Also known as the ‘White Pele’, Zico scored a record 333 goals at the famed Maracana Stadium but for the Brazilian football legend, a new football challenge awaits as manager of Qatari club Al Gharafa.
“I knew a lot about Qatar before I took the job here,” said Zico during the closing session of Doha GOALS yesterday.
“A lot of effort has gone into making Qatar a great place for football and I am very happy to be here. Al Gharafa have not had the best of starts to the season as we have had a few injuries but we are bringing in some new talent and we have a good chance to build for the future.”
A fanatical Flamengo fan as a boy growing up in Rio, Zico – or Arthur Antunes Coimbra as he is otherwise known as — was soon signed up by his boyhood idols.
“I was blessed to play for Flamengo,” he said. “My dad was a Portuguese who loved football and it was after seeing Flamengo play for the first time that he began to support them mainly because he liked the kit. I played for one club in Brazil and I’m proud to have scored 333 goals at the Maracana, which holds 70,000 people now but which could take 150,000 when I was a player.”
The legendary Brazilian also enjoyed a spell as Minister of Sports in his home country, a role he relished and is proud of.
“I’d like to congratulate Doha on this forum and I am sorry that the Brazilian Sports Minister could not come this time, although I am sure he will be present in the future. I enjoyed my time as a minister and brought in a lot of changes as well as investment in sports such as athletics, basketball and volleyball. I was very proud when Brazil men‘s team won our first volleyball Olympic gold in Barcelona,” he added.
With both the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 heading to Brazil, Zico is hopeful of more glory for the team in yellow and blue. Five World Cups mean Brazil is the most successful country in football’s greatest event but they have yet to win an Olympic gold.
“We all hope we can be Olympic champions,” smiled Zico. “If we win it, we will win it in the Maracana… and everyone in Brazil is waiting for that.”
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