On and off the field, former Brazilian soccer star Socrates stood out. His elegant style and deep involvement in politics set him apart from the players of his time and of today.
He was mostly known for his performance during the 1982 World Cup, when he captained Brazil — regarded by many as the best team ever not to win the sport’s showcase tournament.
He was also widely known for his drinking, which he publicly admitted caused the health problems that helped lead to his death on Dec. 4 at age 57. According to a statement from a hospital in Sao Paolo, the cause was septic shock.
After retiring from soccer, Socrates became a doctor and, later, a popular TV commentator and columnist.
Since his playing days, Socrates never kept his politics to himself and often wrote about the subject in his columns. Known as “Dr. Socrates” because of his practice of medicine, he was constantly in demand among local media for interviews.
While with Corinthians, Socrates spearheaded a movement called the Corinthians Democracy, in which players protested the long periods of confinement required by the club before matches. It quickly became a broader protest that coincided with Brazil’s fight to overturn a military regime in the 1980s.
The tall, full-bearded playmaker also was a member of the Brazilian squad in 1986 in Mexico, but it was in 1982 in Spain that he made history with Brazil. The team is considered one of the greatest in World Cup history, but fell to Italy 3-2 in the second round, despite needing only a draw to advance to the semifinals.
Socrates wrote a series of columns for the Associated Press during the 2011 Copa America in Argentina, expressing his views on all aspects of the tournament, including economic and political issues in Latin America.
“It’s not just about the game itself,” Socrates said before the competition began. “Before anything, [football] is a psychological battle, the human aspect plays a significant role.”
Socrates, whose full name was Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, also played for Flamengo and Santos.
He was included in FIFA’s list of the best 125 living soccer players in the world, a list compiled by countryman Pele. Socrates played 63 matches with the national team, scoring 25 goals.
Always clever with the ball at his feet, Socrates had a trademark move — the back-heel pass — and he set up and scored many goals with it throughout his career.
Survivors include his wife and six children. Socrates’s younger brother Rai, another Brazilian midfielder, helped Brazil win the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
Associated Press sports writer Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed to this report.