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The World Cup Winner You Don't Remember

Written By Justin on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 10:41:00 PM

It's too bad none of these guys were any good.

Quick - who was in goal for Brazil when they won the 2002 World Cup?

Because I know my readers are smart, I have no doubt that you know the answer is Marcos. But ask the casual fan and, if they can think of any name at all, it will likely be "Dida." In fact, I've even heard television commentators refer to the AC Milan keeper, now on the downside of an inconsistent but trophy-laden career, as having "led" Brazil to the 2002 World Cup. Now, he was indeed on Brazil's bench and got himself a winner's medal, but it was Marcos Roberto Silveira Reis who did the dirty work.

It's easy to dismiss Marcos's contributions to that team, given the surfeit of talent on display: Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Cafu, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, and Kaka are just the most prominent names. Nobody would claim Brazil won the trophy because of Marcos, but he more than played his part, keeping his cool in a nervy final and making a terrific reflex save in the dying moments. It's worth remembering, too, that equally talented Brazilian squads have been scuppered due to substandard goalkeeping.

Marcos is a bit of an unusual story because he has stayed with one club, Palmeiras, for his entire career, consistently spurning big money moves to Europe. Following Brazil's 2002 triumph, he attracted attention from Arsenal, at that stage presumably interested in finding the successor to David Seaman. According to one story, Marcos traveled to London to meet with the club, but turned around and went home before doing so, leaving his Brazil teammate Edu, then playing for the north London club, scratching his head in bemusement. Marcos later claimed that he would simply rather continue playing in Brazil, and would even prefer to drop down to Brazil's second division before taking the money to play in Europe. Who says they're all greedy?

Despite his impressive performances in Japan/South Korea in 2002, Marcos did not last long as Brazil's number one. His insistence on remaining in Brazil cost him not only money, but caps. As Dida began winning medals with Milan, he became too high-profile to ignore, and reclaimed his spot in the national team.

Marcos has won the lot at Palmeiras, including the 1999 Copa Libertadores, and at age 37, he's still going strong today. In an era when Brazil has exported goalkeepers as soon as they grow a soul patch - Dida, Julio Cesar, Gomes, Doni, Helton, and Julio Sergio, among others - he's a throwback to a different time, before European money started a talent drain from South America. Palmeiras fans revere him as 'Saint Marcos' - have a look why.