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Arthur Antunes Coimbra ( ; born 3 March 1953 in Rio de Janeiromarker), better known as Zico ( ), is a Brazilianmarker coach and former footballer. 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. He was also known as one of history's greatest free kick specialists, able to bend the ball with pace and accuracy as well as having an extremely powerful shot. 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 closest to me was Zico".

Zico scored 52 goals in 72 international matches for Brazil, and represented them in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups. They did not win any of those tournaments, even though the 1982 squad is considered one of the greatest Brazilian national squads ever . Zico is often considered one of the best players in football history not to have 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 Fenerbahcemarker, who were a quarter-finalist in 2007-08 in the Champions League under his command. He was announced as the head coach of CSKA Moscow in January 2009. On September 16, 2009, Zico was signed by Greek side Olympiacos F.C. for a two-year contract after the club's previous coach, Temuri Ketsbaia, was sacked.

Playing career

Zico came from a lower-middle-class family, in the neighborhood of Quintinomarker, Rio de Janeiromarker. 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. Being a fan of Flamengo, 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 the Physical Education teacher 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.

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.

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 kick.

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 Welshmarker 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.

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 SĂłcrates and JĂşlio CĂ©sar, Brazil was knocked out. Recovered from injuries, things improved for Zico in 1987 when he led Flamengo to their fourth national title.

In December 1989 Zico made his last official appearance for Flamengo in a Brazilian National Championship match against rivals Fluminense. Zico made the first goal and Flamengo won the match by 5-0.

Two months later, he would play his last match as a Flamengo player facing a World Cup Masters team composed of names like Gerets, Gentile, Causio, Tarantini, Valdano, Kempes, Breitner, Rummenigge and FalcĂŁo.

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 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.

Zico also represented Brazilmarker in the World Cup of Masters, scoring in the final of the 1990 and 1991 editions.

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 when he accepted the offer to join the Sumitomo Metal Industries Soccer Club in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecturemarker 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, from Japanese soccer fans.

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 Stadiummarker.


  • This information includes Zico's official, friendly, and exhibition games.

Team Matches Goals Goal average
Flamengo 731 508 0.69
Udinese 79 56 0.69
Sumitomo Metals 31 27 0.87
Kashima Antlers 57 27 0.47
Brazil National Team 88 66 0.75
Brazil Olympic Team 8 1 0.12
Youth Teams 116 81 0.69
Various Select Teams 70 60 0.85
Total 1,180 826 0.70
  • This information is based on Zico's senior career totals.

Club Season Domestic
Regional League
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Flamengo 1971 15 2 - - - - - - 15 2
1972 4 0 2 0 - - - - 6 0
1973 26 8 9 0 - - - - 35 8
1974 19 12 31 20 - - - - 50 32
1975 27 10 28 30 - - - - 55 40
1976 20 14 27 18 - - - - 47 32
1977 18 10 29 27 - - - - 47 37
1978 0 0 22 19 - - - - 22 19
1979 8 5 17 + 26 (43) 26 + 34 (60) - - - - 51 65
1980 19 21 26 19 - - - - 45 40
1981 8 3 33 25 - - 13 11 54 + 13 39
1982 23 21 21 21 - - 4 2 48 44
1983 25 17 - - - - 3 3 28 20
Total 212 123 271 239 - - 20 16 504 378
Udinese 1983-84 24 19 - - 9 5 - - 33 24
1984-85 15 3 - - 5 3 - - 20 6
Total 39 22 - - 14 8 - - 53 30
1985 3 1 3 2 - - - - 6 3
1986 0 0 4 3 - - - - 4 3
1987 12 5 5 1 - - - - 17 6
1988 14 4 6 0 - - - - 20 4
1989 8 2 11 2 7 2 1 0 27 6
Total 37 12 29 8 7 2 1 0 74 22
Sumitomo Metals
1991-92 22 21 - - - - - - 22 21
Kashima Antlers
1992 - - - - 12 7 - - 12 7
1993 17 10 - - 7 3 - - 24 13
1994 7 5 - - - - - - 7 5
Total 46 36 - - 19 10 - - 65 46
Career Totals 334 193 300 247 40 20 21 16 696 476
1Domestic Cups include Copa do Brasil, Coppa Italia, J. League Cup and Emperor's Cup

2Continental competitions include Copa Libertadores and Supercopa Sudamericana

3Include Intercontinental Cup

Major achievements

Club honours

International honours

Individual honours

Beach Soccer

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.

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. 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.

He stayed on, however, and won the 2004 Asian Cup despite intimidation from Chinesemarker fans and a team that featured just one European-based player, Shunsuke Nakamura. 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, 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.


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

Zico was given a new nickname by Fenerbahçe fans: Kral Arthur (meaning "King Arthur" in Turkish). For the team's nickname King Arthur and his Knights. In a chat hosted by he pointed out that it is unlikely he will sign a contract extension with Fenerbahçemarker. This was confirmed on 10 June 2008 when he resigned as Fenerbahce manager.

On 8 September 2008, Zico revealed that he would be interested taking over the vacant managers position at Newcastle United following the resignation of Kevin Keegan. He is quoted saying "The Newcastle job is one that I would be very interested in taking. It would be a privilege and an honour, I've always wanted to experience the Premier League as I believe I could enjoy much success coaching in England." He also commented that he isn't bothered about the structure of the board at Newcastle United, "I am used to working alongside technical directors so this isn't an issue for me. It's normal for me to work in those conditions."


In 2008, he coached FC Bunyodkor in Uzbekistanmarker, where he won the Uzbekistani Cup and the Uzbek League.

CSKA Moscow

He has last coaching CSKA Moscow and was fired on 10 September 2009

Olympiakos C.F.P

He signed a 2-year contract with Greek side Olympiacos F.C. on September 16, 2009.

Honours as a manager



  1. Oswaldo TinhorĂŁo
  2. (See match 62: C.R. Flamengo 5 x 0 Fluminense (RJ)
  3. According to data from, and

External links

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