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'King' Arthur Antunes Coimbra (born in March 3, 1953), better known as Zico ['zi.ku], is a former Brazilian footballer and coach. Often called the White Pelé, he is commonly considered one of the most skilled dribblers and finishers ever and possibly the world's best player of the early 80's[2]. The gifted midfielder was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004. Also according to Pelé, generally considered the best footballer ever, "throughout the years, the one player that came closer to me was Zico"[3].

Zico represented Brazil in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, and scored 66 goals in 88 matches for Brazil but never won it, even though the 1982 squad squad is considered one of the greatest Brazilian national squads ever [4], along with the one that won the 1970 World Cup. He is often considered one of the best players in football history to have never been on a World Cup winning squad. He was chosen 1983 Player of the Year.

Zico has coached the Japanese national team, appearing in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and winning the Asian Cup 2004, and was announced as the head coach of Fenerbahçe of Turkey on July 4, 2006[5].


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Early years

Zico came from a lower-middle-class family, in the suburbs of Quintino, Rio de Janeiro. In common with many Brazilians, he spent much of his youth dreaming of playing professional football. In 1967, while still a teenager, he had a scheduled trial at América, where his brothers Antunes and Edu were playing at the time. But he caught the attention of the radio reporter and friend, Celso Garcia, who asked Zico's father to take him to a trial at Flamengo instead. A Flamengo's fan, Zico had his father approval, beginning his path towards being one of the most admired players in history of the sport.

Physically Zico was not strong, and his history of determination and discipline began with a hard muscle and body development program conducted by physician José Roberto Francalacci. A combination of hard work and also a special diet sponsored by his team enabled him to develop a strong body and become an athlete. This later proved to be essential for his success.[6]

In 1971, he had some appearances in the professional team but only one year later, after 116 matches and 81 goals in the youth team, Zico was promoted to Flamengo's professional squad.

Personal information
Full name Arthur Antunes Coimbra
Date of birth 3 March 1953 (1953-03-03) (age 56)
Place of birth    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current club CSKA Moscow (manager)
Youth career
1967–1971 Flamengo
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
Sumitomo Metals
Kashima Antlers
217 (124)
039 0(22)
037 0(12)
031 0(26)
023 0(14)
347 (198)   
National team
1976–1988 Brazil 088 0(66)[1]
Teams managed
Kashima Antlers
CSKA Moscow
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Playing career

While at Flamengo, Zico was a key player during the most glorious period of the team's history. Along with many other titles, in his first period at Flamengo he led the team to victory in the 1981 Copa Libertadores, the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, and four national titles (1980/82/83/87). On the field, Zico made goals in all imaginable ways, was also a great assister and team organizer, and was known for his excellent vision of the field. He was a two-footed player and an expert at free kicks.[4]

In the 1978 World Cup against Sweden, Zico headed a corner kick into the goal in the final minute of the match, apparently breaking a 1-1 tie. However, in a call that became infamous, the Welsh referee Clive Thomas disallowed the goal, saying that he had blown the whistle to end the match while the ball was still in the air.[7]

In a multi-million dollar transaction, he was hired to play for Udinese, in Italy, from 1983 to 1985. Though leaving some Brazilian fans in sadness, he led Udinese to be among the best Italian teams. In Italy, Zico had personal disputes against Juventus's Michel Platini and Napoli's Diego Maradona. In the 1983-84 Italian League season, Zico scored 19 goals - one less than the championship top scorer Platini, having played 6 matches less than the French footballer.

Ultimately Udinese failed to win any relevant competition and Zico eventually went back to Brazil and Flamengo, sponsored by a group of companies.

On his return, he suffered a knee injury after a violent tackle from Bangu's defender Marcio Nunes, which interrupted his career for several months. He played in the 1986 FIFA World Cup while still injured, and missed a penalty during regular time in the quarter-final match against France. The match ended in a tie which led to a shootout. Zico then scored his goal but after penalties missed by Sócrates and Júlio César, Brazil was knocked out. Recovered from injuries, things improved for Zico in 1987 when he led Flamengo to their fourth national title.[8]

In December 1989 Zico made his last official appearance for Flamengo in a Brazilian National Championship match against rivals Fluminense.

With 731 matches for Flamengo, Zico is the player with the 2nd most appearances for the club. His 508 goals make him the club's top scorer ever.

The achievements of the greatest idol in Flamengo's history[9][10] inspired the Brazilian singer Jorge Benjor to write a song in his honour - Camisa 10 da Gávea - helping create the mystique of the club's number 10.

Brief retirement

After Brazil's first presidential election in many years, the new president Fernando Collor de Mello appointed Zico as his Minister of Sports. Zico stayed at this political assignment for about a year and his most important contribution was a piece of legislation dealing with the business side of sport teams.


Zico interrupted his political assignment to when he accepted the offer to join the Sumitomo Metal Industries Soccer Club in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture to help the club secure a place in Japan's first professional soccer league that was set to launch in 1993. Zico played for Sumitomo in 1992, the last season before the old Japan Soccer League was disbanded and reformed as the fully professional J. League. When the new league launched, the small town club, renamed Kashima Antlers, was not expected to compete with richer, more glamorous clubs like Yokohama Marinos and Verdy Kawasaki. However, Zico helped the Antlers to a runners-up finish in its inaugural season and the club cemented its place among the league's elite.

His discipline, talent and professionalism meshed very well with Japanese culture, and his influence earned him the nickname, "God of Soccer" (サッカーの神様 sakkā no kamisama?) from Japanese soccer fans.[11]

Retirement, Beach Soccer and CFZ

Zico retired from professional football during the 1994 season but received an invitation to play Beach Soccer. He returned to Kashima to become the Antlers' technical adviser in 1995, splitting his time between Japan and Brazil - where he still managed to find time to play Beach Soccer. One year later, in 1996, he founded CFZ (Zico Football Centre) in Rio de Janeiro. By this time, he was a local legend in Japan for having built a contender from almost nothing and putting the city of Kashima on the map. A statue in his honor stands outside Kashima Stadium.[12]


Team Goals Matches Goal average
Flamengo 508 731 0.69
Udinese 56 79 0.69
Sumitomo Metals 27 31 0.87
Kashima Antlers 27 57 0.47
Brazil National Team 66 88 0.75
Brazil Olympic Team 1 8 0.12
Youth years 81 116 0.69
Others 60 70 0.85
Total 826 1180 0.70

Major achievements

Club honours

  • Rio State Championship 1972, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1979 (special), 1981, 1986
  • Brazilian Championship 1980, 1982, 1983, 1987
  • Libertadores Cup 1981
  • Intercontinental Cup 1981
  • J.League 1st Stage Championship 1993

International honours

  • 1978 FIFA World Cup: Third place
  • 1982 FIFA World Cup: Round 2 (5th place)
  • 1986 FIFA World Cup: Quarter-finals (5th place)

Individual honours

  • 1974 Brazilian Footballer of the Year - Placar Magazine (Brazil)
  • 1974 - Set a goal record in a single season as a Flamengo player - 49 goals
  • 1976 - Set a goal record in a single season as a Flamengo player - 56 goals
  • 1977 South American Footballer of the Year - El Mundo (Venezuela)
  • 1980 Brazilian Championship Top Scorer - 21 goals
  • 1981 Libertadores Cup Top Scorer - 11 goals
  • 1981 Intercontinental Cup Best Player
  • 1981 South American Footballer of the Year - El Mundo (Venezuela)
  • 1981 World Footballer of the Year - Guerin Esportivo (Italy), El Balón (Spain), El Mundo (Venezuela), Placar Magazine (Brazil)
  • 1982 World Cup Bronze Boot
  • 1982 World Cup All-Star Team player
  • 1982 Brazilian Championship Top Scorer - 21 goals
  • 1982 Brazilian Top Scorer of the year - 59 goals
  • 1982 Brazilian Footballer of the Year - Placar Magazine (Brazil)
  • 1982 South American Footballer of the Year - El Gráfico (Argentina), El Mundo (Venezuela)
  • 1983 Player of the Year - World Soccer Magazine (England)
  • 1984 Second highest scorer of the Italian League - 19 goals
  • 1984 Italian League Player of the Year
  • 1992 Japan Soccer League record for goals scored in consecutive matches - 11 goals in 10 straight matches
  • 1995 Beach Soccer World Championship Top Scorer - 12 goals
  • 1995 Beach Soccer World Championship Best Player
  • Top Scorer in Flamengo's history - 508 goals
  • Top Scorer in Maracanã Stadium's history - 333 goals
  • World Soccer Players of the 20th century
  • FIFA 100

Beach Soccer

  • World Championship 1995, 1996
  • Copa America 1995, 1996

Coaching Career

After the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Japan Football Association looked for a replacement for the outgoing Philippe Troussier, and chose Zico as his successor. Despite his lack of coaching experience besides his stint as Brazil's technical coordinator during the 1998 World Cup, Zico had great understanding of Japanese soccer from his playing days and his role as Kashima's technical director. In addition, JFA had grown tired of Troussier's clashes with the media while the players were frustrated with his micromanagement. In contrast, Zico commanded respect from reporters and urged players to express themselves on the pitch.[13]

Although Zico attempted to instill a free-flowing, attacking mentality to the team, his regime got off to an uneven start, which included a 4-1 loss to Argentina in 2003. Japan had a respectable showing at that year's Confederations Cup but struggled again in the beginning of 2004, only narrowly beating Oman in the first stage of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and several players were suspended after a drinking incident.[14] Although Japan had not lost in its nine previous matches, he was rumored to be on the verge of resigning and a small group of fans marched in the streets of Tokyo demanding his firing.[15]

He stayed on, however, and won the 2004 Asian Cup despite intimidation from Chinese fans and a team that featured just one European-based player, Shunsuke Nakamura.[16] He then helped Japan qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup with just one loss.

Despite the rocky start, injuries to key players and even a bizarre offer from Garforth Town,[17] Zico has led Japan to its third World Cup finals appearance and the third Asian Cup title in four tries. His Japanese team is heavily influenced by Brazil's short passing style, but he has been flexible enough to switch between 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 formations. In addition, he has had a respectable record on European soil, beating Czech Republic and Greece and drawing with England, Brazil and most recently Germany.

However, Japan failed to win a single match at the Finals, losing twice (to Australia and Brazil) and drawing once (to Croatia), and scoring just two goals while conceding seven. He resigned from Japan at the end of the World Cup campaign. British writer and Japanese soccer observer Jeremy Walker criticized Zico for his coaching decisions in the Australia match[18] and for his player selection, writing, "Zico did nothing to bolster his defence, instead staying loyal to the players who had been around for some time."[19]

In July 2006, signed a two-year deal with Fenerbahçe.[5] He won the league title in 2007 and won Turkish Super Cup on the first year of his job. Under his command Fenerbahçe has qualified from UEFA Champions League's groups stage for the first time of club's history in 2007-08 season. So far, he also is the most successful manager of team's history in the European arena.

After successful scores both in the local league of Turkey and international matches, he gained a new nickname from Fenerbahçe fans: Kral Arthur (means "King Arthur" in Turkish).

Honours as a Manager

  • 2004 Asian Cup - Cup Winner with Japan
  • 2007 Turkish Super League - National Champions with Fenerbahçe
  • 2007 Turkish Super Cup - Cup Winner with Fenerbahçe


  • Zico has appeared on the cover of the Japanese releases of Winning Eleven video games between 2003 and 2006 (Winning Eleven 7 - Winning Eleven 10).
  • Kiatisuk Senamuang, the most capped player in Thailand national football team, has been named "Zico" adapted from his since-born nickname, "Ko".
  • He was featured in the FIFA 07 Classic XI team.
  • He has assembled a veteran team in Turkey which has as members Roberto Carlos's father Oscar Silva, Zico's brother and Fenerbahçe Assistant Manager Edu and Fenerbahçe Conditioner Moraci Vasconcelos Sant'anna (who has won 3 world cups as coach of Brazil).
  • He lists 1981 Copa Libertadores final vs Cobreloa, and winning the 2004 AFC Asian Cup as hist most memorable moments as a player and as a coach, respectively.[20]
  • When he was still a kid in the youth team of Flamengo, he was chosen to receive the shoes from the famous Flamengo midfield player Carlinhos in his farewell match. Some years later, Carlinhos would become Zico's coach in the campaign of his fourth and last Brazilian Championship title, in 1987. [21]
  • He, his brother Edu and his son Thiago Coimbra all played for Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo.
  • His son, Thiago Coimbra currently plays for Portuguese Liga Vitalis team Portimonense S.C..

References and Notes

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Best Footballer in the world

Top Five Players

1. Ronaldo 2. Messi
3. Ronaldinho  4. Pele
5. Gerrard

Vote for the best football player on the planet

stevie gerrard is the best because he can do everything whereas other good players specialise in a few things. Also he works hard and is loyal to club and country.

C.ronaldo is d best footballer

mi jugador es iniesta de espana

I think c ronaldo is the best

ronaldinho he's the master

Christino Ronaldo is the best player of the world. In 47 matches he scored 48 goals in only one year compared to messi who only scored 106 in 159 matches in 6 years. The ballon d'or earned.

my vote is with xavi of barcelona technically he is brilliant. his control vision and touch is first class i hope he wins fifa world player of the year in a week or sos time
Lionel messi is the best playeq in the world by yinkusengine

torres,messi,kaka,cristiono ronaldo,villa and xavi