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Leônidas da Silva (September 6, 1913 – January 24, 2004) was a Brazilianmarker football player and commentator. He played for Brazil in two World Cups. He was the top scorer of the 1938 World Cup.

He was known as the "Black Diamond", and as the "Rubber Man" – due to his elasticity. He was one of the pioneers of the bicycle kick.

Club career

Leônidas, born in Rio de Janeiromarker, started his career at São Cristóvão. In 1931 and in 1932, he played for Bonsucesso.

He joined Peñarol in Uruguaymarker in 1933. After one year, he came back to Brazil to play for Vasco da Gama. He helped them win the Rio State Championship. After playing in the World Cup in 1934 he joined Botafogo and won another Rio State Championship in 1935. On the following year, he joined Flamengo, where he stayed until 1941. Once again, in 1939, he won Rio State Championship. He also fought prejudice, being one of the first black players to join the then-elitist Flamengo team.

Leonidas joined São Paulo in 1942 and stayed at the club until his retirement from playing in 1950.

National team

He played 19 times for the Brazilian national team, scoring 21 goals. He scored twice on his debut for the Brazilian national team. In 1938, he was the World Cup's top scorer with 7 goals, scoring at least three times in the 6-5 extra time win over Poland. Brazil manager Ademar Pimenta decided to rest him for the semi-final against Italy. The Italians won the game 2-1.

After retirement

He joined São Paulo as manager in 1953, before leaving football to become a radio reporter and then the owner of a furniture store in São Paulo. Leônidas died in 2004 in Cotiamarker, São Paulomarker, because of complications due to Alzheimer's disease, from which he had been suffering since 1974. He is buried in the Cemitério Morada da Paz of São Paulo.

Trivia

  • A chocolate manufacturer in Brazil created the bar Diamante Negro (Black Diamond) in his honor. The chocolate is still produced as of 2009.


  • He is credited with inventing the bicycle kick. However, he himself attributed the invention of this move to another Brazilian player, Petronilho de Brito, claiming he only perfected it.


  • Leônidas was popular by playing some of his games barefeet, in which he scored with long range shots.


Quotes

"He was a rigorously Brazilian player. Had the fantasy, childhoodness, improvisation and the sensuality from the best Brazilian players" -- (Nelson Rodrigues, playwright)


References

  1. Some sources claimed that Leonidas scored only three goals in the victory over Poland instead of the often quoted four. According to Polish experts, Brazil's six goals were scored by: Leonidas (18th, 93rd and 104th minutes), Romeu (25th minute) and Perácio (44th and 71st minute). This is now recognised by the RSSSF (see RSSSF page on 1938 tournament) and also FIFA itself (see match data at official FIFA World Cup site). In November 2006, FIFA also confirmed that he scored only once in the quarter-final replay against Czechoslovakia, not twice as FIFA had originally recorded (see media release by FIFA). This means he finished as the top goalscorer of the tournament with an official tally of 7 goals.


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Honours


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