Nílton Santos

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Nílton Santos
Nilton Santos - 2004.jpg
Nílton Santos in 2004
Personal information
Full nameNílton dos Santos
Date of birth(1925-05-16)16 May 1925
Place of birth Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of death 27 November 2013(2013-11-27) (aged 88)
Place of death Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 12 in)
Playing position(s) Left back
Youth career
Senior career*
19481964 Botafogo 723 (11)
National team
19491962 Brazil 75 [1] (3)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Nílton dos Santos (Brazilian Portuguese:  [ˈniwtõ ˈsɐ̃tus] ; 16 May 1925 – 27 November 2013) was a Brazilian footballer who primarily played as a wingback. [2] At international level, he was a member of the Brazil squads that won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups.


Regarded as one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game, Nílton Santos is a member of the World Team of the 20th Century, and was named by Pelé one of the top 125 greatest living footballers at a FIFA Awards ceremony in 2004. [3] In 2009, he was the recipient of the Golden Foot Legends Award. [4] He was unrelated to his frequent defensive partner Djalma Santos.

Club career

Born in Rio de Janeiro, he was a pioneering attacking left back, being one of the first full backs to make runs down the wing to participate in the offensive game. Once he said: "I have never envied today's players the money but the freedom they have, to go forward". [5] He played all his professional club career for Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas.

He was called "The Encyclopedia" because of his knowledge of the sport of football. He was world class both at defending and attacking and possessed very good technique.

International career

Nílton was a key player in defence during the 1954, 1958 and 1962 World Cup finals (he was also in the Brazilian squad for the 1950 finals, but made no appearances) and became famous for scoring a magnificent goal in the 1958 tournament when Brazil played Austria. Dribbling his way through the whole field, he finished with a superb shot, driving his coach Vicente Feola crazy (he kept on insisting for Nílton to retreat to the defensive field, but was ignored until the goal was scored). [6]

Nílton Santos played for only two teams in his professional career; Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas and the Brazilian national team collecting 75 caps and scoring 3 goals. [1]


Santos died of a lung infection on 27 November 2013, aged 88, in Rio de Janeiro. [7] He was the fourth 1958 World Cup champion to die in a few months, after Djalma Santos died in July 2013, Gilmar and De Sordi both in August 2013 and all of them within a year of the 2014 World Cup in their native Brazil.







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  1. 1 2 75 days to go. FIFA.com
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Brazil and Botafogo's pioneering wingback". FIFA. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  3. "Pele's list of the greatest". BBC Sport. 4 March 2004. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  4. "Legends". Golden Foot. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  5. "Nilton Santos (1925-2013)". LECHAMPIONS.it. 28 November 2013. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  6. Chiesa, Carlo F. (December 1999). "We are the champions – I 150 fuoriclasse che hanno fatto la storia del calcio," [The 150 champions that made football's history]. Calcio 2000 (in Italian). Action Group S.r.l. p. 62.
  7. "Brazilian World Cup winner Nilton Santos dies aged 88". Chicago Tribune. 27 November 2013. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  8. "ERIC BATTY’S WORLD XI – THE SIXTIES" Retrieved on 26 November 2015
  9. IFFHS' Century Elections
  10. "The Best of The Best" Retrieved on 17 November 2015