Nílton Santos

Brazilian association football player (1925-2013)

Nílton Santos (16 May 1925 – 27 November 2013) was a Brazilian football player. He has played for Brazil national team. Considered as one of the best defenders of all time. He was a pioneering left-back "The Encyclopedia" was world class at both defending and attacking and possessed excessive technique. Nílton Santos is a member of the World Team of the 20th Century, and was named by Pelé one of the top 125 greatest living footballers at a FIFA Awards ceremony in 2004. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Golden Foot Legends Award. He was unrelated to his frequent defensive partner Djalma Santos.

Nílton Santos
Nílton Santos in 2004
Personal information
Full name Nílton Reis dos Santos
Date of birth (1925-05-16)16 May 1925
Place of birth Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of death November 27, 2013(2013-11-27) (aged 88)
Place of death Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 12 in)
Position(s) Defender (retired)
Youth career
1940–1948 Botafogo
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1948–1964 Botafogo 723 (11)
National team
1949–1962 Brazil 75 (3)
Men's Football
Representing  Brazil
FIFA World Cup
Winner 1958 Sweden
Winner 1962 Chile
Runner-up 1950 Brazil
South American Championship
Winner 1949 Brazil
Runner-up 1953 Peru
Runner-up 1957 Peru
Runner-up 1959 Argentina
Panamerican Championship
Winner 1952 Chile
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Club career


Nílton Santos made his debut for Botafogo in 1948, he only left General Severiano in 1964 when he left the pitch. He only wore two shirts throughout his career: that of Botafogo and that of the Brazilian national team. His debut in the shirt of the Lone Star club took place against América Mineiro. In the Carioca Championship of 1948, played his first game against Canto do Rio in Caio Martins. Botafogo won by 4 to 2. General Severiano's Alvinegro was the 1948 carioca champion. However, in the carioca's first game against São Cristóvão, Nílton Barbosa played for the main team.

Nílton Santos played his entire career at Botafogo. Where he won the state championship four times (1948, 1957, 1961 and 1962), twice the Torneio Rio–São Paulo (1962 and 1964), in addition to several of the Paris Tournament in 1963 — in addition to other international titles. Nílton Santos participated in 718 matches for the club, being the record holder and scoring eleven goals between 1948 and 1964.

International career

Nílton Santos in 1956

Nílton debuted in the national team in the South American of 1949, the competition was held in Brazil, which ended up champion. He participated in the 1950 World Cup where he was runner-up without playing a single match. He was still champion with the 1952 Pan American team, twice world champion in 1958 in Sweden and 1962 in Chile. He played in 75 official and 10 unofficial matches. His farewell to the national team took place in the 1962 Cup final. He scored two goals with the national team's shirt. 

In the Brazilian national football team, Nílton was a key player in defense during the world championships in which he participated and became internationally famous for scoring a magnificent goal in the 1958 tournament, when Brazil played Austria. Bringing the ball from the defense field and dribbling the entire opposing team (and driving coach Vicente Feola crazy ), he finished with a great shot.

Another play he always remembers is the penalty he committed against striker Enrique Collar in the game against Spain in the 1962 World Cup, considered the most difficult match of that campaign. The referee called the foul, but when he got close to check the shot, he placed the ball outside the area, as he did not realize that Nílton, without despairing and gesturing his arms as other players would, had cunningly taken two steps and left the area, deceiving the referee.

Santos died from respiratory failure caused by a lung infection on 27 November 2013, aged 88, in Rio de Janeiro.[1]

International career statistics



Brazil national team
1949 1 0
1950 4 0
1951 0 0
1952 5 0
1953 6 1
1954 7 0
1955 2 0
1956 11 0
1957 8 0
1958 8 1
1959 2 0
1960 8 0
1961 3 0
1962 10 1
Total 75 3









  1. "Brazilian World Cup winner Nilton Santos dies aged 88". Chicago Tribune. 27 November 2013. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  2. "Nilton Reis dos Santos - International Appearances". www.rsssf.com.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Brazil and Botafogo's pioneering wingback". FIFA. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  4. "ERIC BATTY’S WORLD XI – THE SIXTIES" Retrieved on 26 November 2015
  5. IFFHS' Century Elections
  6. "IFFHS' Century Elections". www.rsssf.com.
  7. "The Best of The Best" Retrieved on 17 November 2015