The 8 Best Brazilian Midfielders of all time

Best Brazilian Midfielders of all time: Brazil is a country that has produced some of the greatest footballers of all time, and the midfield is no exception. From the playmaking genius of Dunga to the defensive steel of Gilberto Silva, Brazilian midfielders have always been a force to be reckoned with.

Best Brazilian Midfielders of all time

In this article, we will take a look at some of the best Brazilian midfielders of all time. We will discuss their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their impact on the game.

8. Toninho Cerezo

  • Date of Birth (Age): 21 April 1955 (68)
  • Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
  • Position(s): Defensive midfielder

Ranked at number 8 among the best Brazilian midfielders is Toninho Cerezo. Known for his tall and robust physique, Cerezo is celebrated as one of Brazil’s finest defensive midfielders. Renowned for his tireless work ethic, stamina, and tactical awareness, he played a key role for clubs like Atlético Mineiro in Brazil and various teams in Italy.

Cerezo showcased not only defensive skills but also elegant and creative skills, earning praise for his technique, vision, and ability to orchestrate attacks. He represented Brazil in international competitions, including the 1978 and 1982 FIFA World Cups, where he won a bronze medal in the former, and the 1979 Copa América, securing a third-place finish.

Throughout his career, Cerezo displayed versatility by often serving as a deep-lying playmaker, contributing significantly to both defensive and attacking aspects of the game.

7. Sócrates

  • Date of Birth (Age): 19 February 1954
  • Height: 1.92 m (6 ft 4 in)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Sócrates holds the 7th spot in our ranking of the best Brazilian midfielders. Nicknamed “Doctor Socrates” for his medical degree and social consciousness, he became an iconic figure known for his distinctive beard and headband, symbolizing coolness for a generation of football fans. He earned the title of South American Footballer of the Year in 1983 and was recognized by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players in 2004.

During his seven-year tenure with the Brazilian national team, Sócrates scored 22 goals and played in two World Cups. Notably, he captained the revered 1982 FIFA World Cup team, featuring football legends Zico, Falcão, Toninho Cerezo, and Éder, considered one of Brazil’s greatest squads.

His club career included stints with Botafogo-SP, Corinthians, and Fiorentina in Italy, concluding with a return to Brazil in 1985.

6. Casemiro

  • Date of Birth (Age): 23 February 1992 (31)
  • Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
  • Position(s): Defensive midfielder

Casemiro claims the 6th spot among the best Brazilian midfielders, recognized for his versatility, particularly as a defensive midfielder. Known for his intelligence, physical strength, and aggressive play, he excels in providing defensive balance while contributing to offensive moves.

Casemiro has been a crucial part of Real Madrid’s success, winning multiple La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles. In 2022, after securing his fifth Champions League title, he moved to Manchester United for a transfer fee of €70.65m. He played in FIFA World Cups and Copa América tournaments, winning the 2019 Copa América with Brazil.

Casemiro’s ability to read the game and contribute both defensively and offensively has solidified his reputation as one of the best defensive midfielders of his generation.

5. Gérson

  • Date of Birth (Age): 11 January 1941 (83)
  • Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Ranked at number 5th in the lineup of the best Brazilian midfielders is Gérson. Although primarily a holding midfielder, he was a pioneering example of a more creative player in this role, emphasizing ball retention and precise passing over defensive duties.

Gérson played a crucial role as the “brain” behind Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning squad, showcasing tactical intelligence and technical brilliance.

Throughout his career, Gérson achieved success with Flamengo, Botafogo, São Paulo, and Fluminense, winning numerous national trophies. Renowned for his exceptional passing skills, he could control the game’s tempo and transition seamlessly from defense to attack with accurate long balls.

Gérson’s precision in passing earned him a reputation as one of the best passers in the history of football, solidifying his status as one of Brazil’s greatest players. His left-footed shots and positional sense led to the nickname “Canhotinha de Ouro” (Golden left foot in Portuguese).

4. Paulo Roberto Falcão

  • Date of Birth (Age): 16 October 1953
  • Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

At number 4th in the ranking of the best Brazilian midfielders is Paulo Roberto Falcão. Recognized for his elegance and technical skills, Falcão was a deep-lying playmaker who could orchestrate attacks and contribute both defensively and offensively. His notable attributes included flair, control, vision, and long-range shooting, showcasing tactical intelligence and leadership on the field.

Universally regarded as one of Brazil’s all-time greats and one of the best defensive midfielders in football history, Falcão had successful stints with Internacional, Roma, and São Paulo. His impact with Roma earned him the title “the eighth King of Rome,” and he was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Falcão’s contributions extended to the Brazil national team, where he played a key role in the 1982 FIFA World Cup alongside Zico, Sócrates, and Éder, considered one of the greatest Brazilian national teams. Pelé named him one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers in 2004, further cementing his legacy in the sport.

3. Zé Roberto

  • Date of birth: 6 July 1974 (49)
  • Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Position(s): Left wing-back, midfielder

Occupying the 3rd position among the “Best Brazilian Midfielders” is Zé Roberto. Known for his versatility, Zé Roberto could adeptly play as a left-sided defender or in various midfield roles.

In his prime, he stood out for his quickness, hard work, and efficient left-footed play, showcasing exceptional technique, vision, dribbling, passing, crossing, and tackling abilities.

Beyond his playing career, Zé Roberto currently serves as a technical advisor to Palmeiras, actively engaging with players and coaching staff, bringing his wealth of experience to the team.

2. Dunga

  • Date of Birth (Age): 31 October 1963 (60)
  • Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Position(s): Defensive midfielder

At the 2nd position among the “Best Brazilian Midfielders” is Dunga. Early in his career, he showcased versatility by alternating between a holding-role midfielder and a box-to-box role, demonstrating mobility, stamina, and all-around skills. As he matured, Dunga specialized in the holding role, excelling in protecting the defensive line with sure-footed tackling.

Under his captaincy, Brazil secured victory in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Dunga is one of only two players, along with Xavi, to have appeared in a World Cup final, an Olympic final, a Confederations Cup final, and a continental championship final. He later served as Brazil’s head coach, winning the 2007 Copa América and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in his first stint.

Known for his exceptional vision, precise long passes, and economy of technique, Dunga is regarded as one of the greatest defensive midfielders of all time. His nickname, derived from the Disney character “Dopey,” was stuck from childhood due to his short height, remaining in use even as he grew taller.

1. Gilberto Silva

  • Date of Birth (Age): 7 October 1976 (47)
  • Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
  • Position(s): Defensive midfielder

Finally the ”Best Brazilian Midfielder” is Gilberto Silva, nicknamed “the invisible wall” in Brazil. Recognized for his defensive skills, Gilberto played a crucial role as a defensive midfielder for Atlético Mineiro, Arsenal in the English Premier League, and the Brazil national team. His unique style involved shadowing opponents rather than tackling directly, earning him an unusually clean record with minimal bookings throughout his career.

Gilberto started his career at América Mineiro before transitioning to Atlético Mineiro, where he thrived as a defensive midfielder under coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. His standout performances at the 2002 FIFA World Cup led to a move to the Premier League with Arsenal, where he became known as one of the world’s best defensive midfielders. He played a key role in Arsenal’s “Invincibles” season, winning the league title unbeaten.

Gilberto enjoyed significant success on the international stage, contributing to Brazil’s victories in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, and the 2007 Copa América. After a successful career spanning nine years, he retired from international football following the 2010 FIFA World Cup, having made 93 appearances for Brazil. Currently, Gilberto serves as an ambassador for both Arsenal and FIFA.

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