While with Corinthians, Socrates spearheaded a movement called the Corinthians Democracy, in which players protested against 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 clever, 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, which is known to have had one of the greatest teams in World Cup history but failed to win the trophy. With players like Zico and Falcao, it fell to Italy 3-2 in the second round despite needing only a draw to advance to the semifinals.
“He was a very dynamic player with a sublime foot but most of all great intelligence,” added Rossi, who scored a memorable hat trick in that match against Brazil. “Along with Zico and Falcao he was the symbol of that Brazil squad.
Zico said he was honored to have been Socrates’ friend and teammate.
“He was a spectacular guy,” Zico told the website GloboEsporte.com. “As a player, there is not much to say, he was one of the best that I ever played with. His intelligence was unique, you always expected something good out of him.”
Dozens of Brazilian footballers expressed their sadness on Twitter moments after Socrates’ death was announced.
“Sad start to the day,” retired Brazil striker Ronaldo wrote. “Rest in peace Dr. Socrates.”
Former Brazil and Barcelona playmaker Rivaldo added on his Twitter page: “Sad to wake up and find out that Socrates has died.”
Reaction came from those outside of football, too, including three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten and three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.
“Great guy,” Castroneves tweeted. “A Brazilian who will be greatly missed.”
NBA player Steve Nash called Socrates a “legend.”
“RIP Socrates,” the Phoenix Suns’ point guard tweeted. “Fascinated by him as a kid. Brazilian World Cup Legend. Playmaker. Goal scorer. Doctor. Philosopher.”
The Brazilian football federation said the final round of the Brazilian league on Sunday will be played in Socrates’ honor. All matches will be preceded by a minute of silence. Corinthians, the team that featured Socrates at the height of his career, needs a draw against rival Palmeiras to win the title. Corinthians’ main fan group said it will honor its former star throughout the day.
Fiorentina, another of Socrates’ former clubs, held a minute of silence and players wore black armbands in his honor in Sunday’s Italian league match with Roma.
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.