Socrates was always special. A hugely talented athlete who graduated in medicine yet drank and smoked to excess, he captained the 1982 Brazil team, one of the greatest sides never to win the World Cup. The attacking midfielder stood out - and t just because of his 6'4 frame. Fans were enthralled by his inch-perfect passes, his coolness in front of goal and his back heel, the trademark move that singled him out as the most unique footballer of his generation. Off the pitch, he was just as original, with a dedication to politics and social causes that player has ever emulated. His biggest impact came as leader of Corinthians Democracy - a movement that gave everyone from the kitman to the president an equal say in the running of the club. At a time when Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship, it was truly revolutionary. Passionate and principled, entertaining and erudite, Socrates was as contradictory as he was complex. He was a socialist who voted for a return of Brazil's monarchy, a fiercely independent individual who was the ultimate team player, and a romantic who married four times and fathered six children. Armed with Socrates unpublished memoir and hours of newly discovered interviews, Andrew Downie has put together the most comprehensive and compelling account of this iconic figure. Based on conversations with family members, close friends and former team-mates, this is a brilliant biography of a man who always stood up for what he believed in, whatever the cost.
Andrew Downie is the Brazilian football correspondent for Reuters, and has lived in the country for 15 years. He has written on football for GQ, the Economist, the New York Times and the Guardian among others. He lives in Sao Paulo.