Nílton Santos

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Nílton Santos
Nílton Santos in 1956
Personal information
Full name Nílton 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)
Position(s) Left back
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1948–1964 Botafogo 723 (11)
International career
1949–1962 Brazil 75[1] (3)
Medal record
Men's Football
Representing  Brazil
FIFA World Cup
Winner 1958 Sweden
Winner 1962 Chile
Runner-up 1950 Brazil
South American Championship
Winner 1949 Brazil
Runner-up 1953 Peru
Runner-up 1957 Peru
Runner-up 1959 Argentina
Panamerican Championship
Winner 1952 Chile
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 goal in the 1958 tournament when Brazil played Austria. Dribbling his way through the whole field, he finished with a shot that drove 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 Brazil 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 not only the last surviving member of the Brazil 1950 FIFA World Cup squad, but also 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 FIFA World Cup in their native Brazil.


Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas's home, and 2016 Summer Olympics host stadium, the Estádio Olímpico Nílton Santos, also called Engenhão, is named after him.



Rio de Janeiro State Team



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 75 days to go. FIFA.com
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Brazil and Botafogo's pioneering wingback". FIFA. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. 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

External links[edit]

World Cup-winners status
Preceded by Oldest living player
16 June – 27 November 2013
Succeeded by