Written by Jordan Cirocco

Known as one of the greatest mid-fielders of all time, Paulo Roberto Falcão did not experience the same widespread success on the international stage as other fellow Brazilian greats. However, Falcão is celebrated for his brilliance at the club level, leading Internacional to three Brazilian National championships, as well as bringing Roma its first Seria A championship in over forty years[1].

Falcão began his professional career at Internacional at the age of 19 in 1973 [2]. He quickly moved up the ranks as an elite midfielder of Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, who was praised for his ability to control the flow of the game with his accurate passes and strength in marking. He led Internacional to its greatest period of success, leading the club to its three Série A championships in 1975, 1976, and 1979 [3]. At the height of his dominance, the manager of Palmiera was quoted after their defeat to Internacional in the semifinals of the 1979 championship as saying “We did not lose to a team. [We] lost to the greatest player in the world” [2]. The 1979 Inernacional team finished the season undefeated, a feat still unmatched by any Brazilian club in Série A. During this period of brilliance, Falcão did not receive a call up to be a part of the Brazilian squad for the 1978 World Cup, despite being named part of the pre-tournament 40.

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In 1980, Falcão transferred to the Italian club Roma, where he immediately became regarded as one of the top foreign stars of Serie A [2]. His first season with Roma saw the club rise up the ranks to a second place finish in the league, and the capturing of the Coppa Italia, with Falcão delivering the decisive penalty kick. His stellar play in his second season with the club earned Falcão a spot on the 1982 World cup squad for Brazil, where he became a part of a dominant midfield known as “the magic square”.

Following the World Cup, Falcão led Roma to their first league title in over forty years. His seven goals and stellar play was enough for him to be recognized as the star player in Serie A. After leading the team to a quarterfinal finish in the UEFA cup, Roma fans started referring to Falcão as “the 8th King of Rome” [2].  With next season’s European cup final set to occur in Roma’s Olympic Stadium, hopes were high that Falcão would lead the team to a European championship[1]. After injuring his knee and missing the first leg of the European Cup semi-final against Dundee United, Falcão was able to return and lead Roma to a 3-0 victory in the second leg, securing a spot in the final against Liverpool. With his knee still bothering him in the final, Falcão turned in a poor performance, with Roma ultimately losing in penalty kicks. Falcão lost favor with the fans after refusing a spot during the penalty kicks.

The following season, Falcão was only able to play in four games due to knee troubles, resulting in an 8th place finish for Roma in the league [1]. At the end of the season, Falcão flew to New York for an unauthorized surgery, causing Roma to terminate his contract. Throughout his tenure in Italy, Falcão appeared in 107 games and scored 22 goals – all of which can be seen in the video below. Despite his off the field antics in his final season with Roma, Falcão is one of only eleven players memorialized in Roma’s hall of fame [2].

Falcão return to Brazil, signing a contract with São Paulo in 1986, only to appear in ten games with the club [2]. He received a call-up to the 1986 Brazilian national team, but was only used as a late game substitute in two of the games. Following Brazil’s loss to France in the quarterfinals, Falcão officially retired from soccer.

Following his announced retirement from his playing career, Falcão has served as coach for several teams, highlighted by being named manager of the Brazilian national team from 1990 to 1991 [1]. Following a stint with the Japanese national team in 1994, Falcão retired from coaching due to his teams’ lack of success. However, after a sixteen year hiatus, Falcão returned to coaching, signing a contract with his former club, Internacional [4]. Unfortunately, his return was not successful, as he was fired that same year for poor performance [6]. Currently, Falcão is under contract as the manager of the Brazilian club, Bahia [7].

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[1] “Paulo Roberto Falcão,” Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. Web. Oct 21, 2013.

[2] “Falcão será apresentado nesta segunda à tarde” (in Portuguese). Internacional Official website. 10 April 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2011.

[3] “Sport Club Internacional” Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. Web. Oct 21, 2013.

[4] “Falcao, l’idillio è finito L’Internacional lo caccia” (in Italian). La Repubblica. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2012.

[5] “A.S. Roma” Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia. Wev. Oct. 21, 2013.

[6] “Internacional sacked Falcao”. Sambafoot. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2012.

[7] “Falcão confirmed as new Bahia coach”. Sambafoot. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2012.


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