SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Djalma Santos, a trusty right back who won two World Cups with Brazil and was widely considered one of the country’s greatest defenders, has died after a battle with pneumonia. He was 84.
“Brazilian football has lost one of its idols,” said Jose Marin, president of the Brazilian Football Confederation.
“Djalma Santos was an admirable player who was loved by fans of all teams not just for the quality of his football but for his discipline and loyalty.”
The fullback was a contemporary of Pele and Garrincha and played for the Selecao when they won the World Cup for the first time in Sweden in 1958.
Although his only game at that tournament was in the 5-2 win over the hosts in the final, Djalma Santos was still voted the best right back in the tournament and was an ever present in the team that defended the trophy four years later in Chile.
He played 98 full internationals, scoring three goals, having also featured at the 1954 and 1966 World Cups.
Born Dejalma dos Santos in Sao Paulo in 1929, he got his start at local club Portuguesa but after more than 400 appearances he signed for Palmeiras, then one of the most successful teams in the country.
He made his mark and played almost 500 games for the club before moving to Atletico Parana in 1968. He played there for two years before ending his career aged 41.
Djalma Santos was known for his technical skill and crossing ability and Brazilians credit him and his contemporary Nilton Santos with helping create the overlap. Both players got forward when possible, which was a rarity among defenders of the time.
He is one of two players, along with Franz Beckenbauer, to be named in three of FIFA’s World Cup All Star teams for each tournament. He was selected in 1954, 1958 and 1962.
He was on Pele’s list of the world’s greatest living footballers in 2004.
Editing by Ken Ferris