Brazilian legend wraps up for non-league debut

It was a far cry from the carnival atmosphere and soaring temperatures of Rio for Brazilian football legend Socrates, who stepped out today at the freezing and tiny non-league ground of Garforth Town.

It was a far cry from the carnival atmosphere and soaring temperatures of Rio for Brazilian football legend Socrates, who stepped out today at the freezing and tiny non-league ground of Garforth Town.

Still sporting a greying version of his trademark beard, but with a noticeable girth, the 50-year-old delighted a record crowd with a cameo appearance at the club’s Wheatley Park ground, in west Yorkshire.

With temperatures hovering around zero, the midfielder peeled off his tracksuit 33 minutes into the second half as the Northern Counties East League First Division side were drawing 2-2 with Tadcaster Albion in the top of the table clash.

Wearing the Garforth Town Brazil-style strip of yellow shirt and blue shorts, Socrates announced his arrival with a thundering 20-yard attempt within a minute of taking the field. But the attempt was stopped by Tadcaster keeper Tom Ryder.

As captain of the 1982 Brazil World Cup side, which is widely regarded as the greatest team never to win the World Cup, he was well known for his shock of black hair, his beard and his tall gangly frame.

More than a few pounds heavier today, he played up front, and, while he had a number of touches within the first few minutes of his substitute appearance, he was largely anonymous for the last 10 minutes of the match, which ended 2-2.

Despite the disappearance of last week’s snow which fell in the area, Socrates accepted a series of body-warming garments as he sat through most of the game on the bench.

Garforth Town coach and owner Simon Clifford, who brought him to the club, gave him his overcoat, which the legend accepted with some protest.

One member of the ground staff then shouted: “Does he want a cup of tea, Simon?”

As the game wore on, Socrates accepted a woolly hat and a pair of sheepskin gloves as he shivered in the dug-out.

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