Imagine sitting in the dressing room of a football club owned by Brazil’s most dangerous criminal. Time is ticking down to kick off. The owner is very, very anxious to see your football skills. He just signed you to the club after you told him of your extraordinary talent. You were vouched for by some of Brazil’s biggest football stars. The only problem is, you can’t actually play. You’ve gotten by on charm till now. You were out clubbing till 4am last night. You’ve started to sweat. Welcome to the world of Carlos Kaiser Henrique. Football’s greatest conman.
There’s a clinical condition known as ‘Impostor Syndrome’. It’s suffered by a huge volume of people. These people achieve great things but refuse to chalk it down to their own abilities or work. They go about their lives terrified they’re about to be exposed as a fraud. They believe other people are definitely smarter, more professional and certainly more deserving of success. In the case of Carlos Kaiser Henrique, Brazilian football star of the 80s, the feeling was 100% justified.
Here is a man who once started a fist fight with a fan in the stands to avoid being called up to play. Carlos Kaiser Henrique was the Brazilian star footballer who couldn’t actually play football and did anything to get out of being exposed. With a carlos henrique kaiser documentary and a carlos kaiser film both on the way, we look at the legend.
Carlos kaiser football legend was signed by Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminese, Vasco De Gama, and many other luminous South American clubs. But he never got as far as kicking a ball for any of them. The fact was he couldn’t really play at all. He could just talk a good game. Carlos kaiser henrique raposo came from an impoverished background and early on in his life did happen to show a little bit of promise on the pitch. Enough to claim the attention of youth scouts from Botafogo Youth Academy. Like many young Brazilian boys, it seemed football would be a gateway out of the life he grew up with. That of his father and his friends. Great things beckoned. Following a move to Flamengo, Mexican side Puebla took a chance on him when he was 16. But it was all for nought. Carlos just didn’t have what it took to make it in the game. He flew back to Brazil with his dream in tatters. But then something happened.
Carlos Kaiser Henrique realised something about football. It’s the same magical fact that Ali Dia used to persuade Graham Souness that he was George Weah’s cousin to get signed by Southampton in 1996. It’s the same magical fact that superagent Mino Raiola uses to represent all parties in a €100 million transfer deal and make €40 million for himself. Football is above all a talker’s game. What he decided to do next would change his life forever.
Faced with the prospect of returning to the poverty he came from, Carlos decided to make some friends. He hit the clubs in Rio and went out of his way to befriend a slew of famous footballers. Romario, Renato Gaucho, Bebeto, Ricardo Roccha and even Diego Maradona, when he was in town for the carnival. His tactic was simple but mind-bogglingly ballsy. When any of these players were up for a transfer, Carlos would suggest his mates demand that he be included in the deal. Amazingly, this worked time and again. It was usually for a three month contract. Carlos believed the club wouldn’t imagine it a big risk. It was long enough for him to enjoy a footballer’s wage and lifestyle and short enough he wouldn’t ever have to actually play.
Carlos looked every ounce the natural athlete, so, once he’d joined a club, he would insist on committing himself to extra intense training, something with which he was pretty comfortable, to get his fitness up before he made his debut. Following that, he would invent injuries. Hamstring tears, ligaments, you name it. This was the 80s. These clubs hadn’t access to proper x-ray or invasive camera equipment. Carlos would be left alone for weeks, if not months, on end to recover by himself in the treatment room. All the while drawing a star player salary and hitting the clubs by night.
He tried it out first at Botafogo and it worked a treat. For some reason Carlos Kaiser Henrique didn’t think this ruse pushed it far enough and began conducting fake conversations in English on his mobile phone, no small thing in the 80s, supposedly with his agent and European clubs. This all went pretty well until the club’s doctor, who was fluent in English, overheard one of the conversations. It wasn’t English at all. Looking closer at the mobile phone, it became clear it was nothing more than a toy. The time had come for Carlos to move on from Botafogo.
Blessed with an overgenerous helping of charisma and an almost eerie sense for when the jig was about to be up, he kept up his 3 month charade techniques at clubs around Brazil, the USA and even Europe for as long as he could. In 1989 he returned to Brazil, with first division side, Bangu. Bangu was then owned by one Castor de Angrade. Castor was what was called a bichiero, someone who ran a vast, illegal gambling racket. He was quite commonly referred to as the most dangerous man in Brazil. The kind of gentleman who has bigwigs like then FIFA president Joao Havelange in his pocket while chasing referees around pitches with visible firearms. Not the kind of gentleman to cross. This didn’t seem to bother Carlos though. Castor right away fell for his moxy, his lifestyle and his way of looking at the world. He became very interested to see how this was expressed on the pitch too. So, Carlos began his merry dance of injuries and whatnot until Castor finally ran out of patience. On hearing Carlos was out clubbing till 4am, he demanded he be placed on the bench for the game the next day.
The match went pretty badly. Bangu were down 2-0 by half time and the coach, who had no intention of playing Carlos, received a call from the owner’s box to play their new star striker. He kitted up, heart racing, and made his way to the sideline. At this point, once again, destiny intervened. An opposition fan started yelling obscenities at him from the stands. Carlos saw his chance. He broke from the sideline and careered into the stands to fight the fan, raining down punch after punch. He was, of course, immediately sent off before he could even touch a ball. When confronted it afterward he said:
“God has taken both my parents away but gave me another father who they accused of being a crook. So I lost it and went for them. But don’t you worry because my contract is up in a week and I’ll be off.”
He claimed to have defended Castor’s honour. It secured him a pay-rise and new contract. Not that he needed one. Carlos Kaiser Henrique was a scammer at every level. He never seemed to have his wallet handy when people bought meals. The ATM always seemed to destroy his card in a club. But he had the charm, and self-belief that things would turn out okay. And they somehow always did. Carlos famously booked a reservation at Buzos, Brazil’s most luxurious resort, when Carlos Alberto, captain of Brazil’s greatest ever team, had been unable to get one.
Perhaps his most surprising trick was staying at French club, Ajaccio for a number of years. His most famous moment there was surely kicking the training balls at adoring fans so he didn’t have to show any skill with them in training.
Nowadays, Carlos Kaiser Henrique is in his 50s. He works as a women’s fitness trainer. It seems he’s just sold the rights to his story to Hollywood for a carlos kaiser movie. There’s a Carlos kaiser documentary on the way too and no doubt a carlos henrique kaiser book. Carlos kaiser net worth today is unknown but it’s unlikely he’s struggling. There’s even a carlos kaiser gundam, but it seems unlikely the anime character is named for tha man (can it be a coincidence though?). Football is a different place now and stories like this are a romantic throwback to a time less concerned with image rights and shoe sponsorship and statistics. Some would say the game has gained a lot by growing more professional. But the likes of Carlos Kaiser Henrique – will certainly be never seen again.
What do you think? Is Carlos Kaiser Henrique the greatest football con man ever?
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