Two Dubliners tell the tale of a famous Brazilian footballer - who never played a match
Two Dubliners have embarked on an epic voyage to Brazil to tell the tale of a unique conman who enjoyed a 26-year football career without having a drop of talent or setting foot on a pitch.
Carlos Henrique Raposo, better known as Kaiser, fooled his way in to a life that eventually saw him appear as a guest on Brazil’s equivalent of Match of the Day. He also signed professional contracts with some of South America’s biggest clubs.
It all stemmed from a lie that he had played for French side Ajaccio in the 1980s.
His story has been captured on film by producer Tom Markham and his friend Rob Fullam in the aptly-named ‘Kaiser: The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football’.
It features the cream of Brazilian football talent: Zico, Bebeto and captain of the 1970 Brazilian World Cup winners Carlos Alberto. All tell tales of not playing alongside Kaiser and how he flattered club chairmen, duped football officials and rubbed shoulders with some of Brazil’s most dangerous gangsters to talk his way in to a football career millions would dream of.
They tell how other players would defend him and attempt to keep him at every club because of his prowess with women and his ability to get unlimited access to Rio’s best bars, restaurants and nightclubs. They would do interviews telling the media he had been unlucky with injury but was destined to become a star.
Dubliner Tom Markham gave up his job as a trader with AIB before the recession to pursue a career in the commercial side of football.
He studied football industries in Liverpool in 2008, has worked on various take over deals at Premier League clubs and is part of the team at computer games company Sport Interactive, creators of the popular Football Manager game.
Along the way he heard about Kaiser and during a 2014 trip to the World Cup in Brazil he heard about trickster again on two separate occasions..
He was Brazilian football’s worst kept secret but the story had never been documented. This planted a seed for Tom.
“In Brazil they call people like him a ‘malandro’ - a chancer or strange character who is usually larger than life but often likeable. Rio is full of them,” explained Tom.
He returned to Brazil late in 2016 this time armed with a film crew and used his various contacts in the football world to track down the film’s anti-hero.
Eventually they were put in touch with Renato Gaucho, a successful manager who has coached some of Brazil’s biggest clubs. As a player he featured for the national side 41 times but was most famous for his dashing looks.
Kaiser, with a mop of dark hair and fit physique, bore a striking resemblance to him and used to impersonate Renato to attract the attention of women.
The pair eventually struck up an unlikely friendship and it was Renato who was able to put Tom in touch with Kaiser.
“You are dealing with a conman so we were very concerned that he would try and tell his story to 10 different people and continue on the same way he operated as a player,” Tom explained.
“He started telling us stories and we brought him down to a nice restaurant. We walked in and were told it was a two hour wait for a table so Kaiser had a word with the manager and five minutes later we were sitting at the best table in the restaurant. His ability to influence people was there for all to see.
“For the next four days he brought us on a wild goose chase and he introduced us to a guy who claimed he was the Brazilian team doctor and used to write up medical certs for Kaiser at times when he was trying to feign injury.
“You look at the famous Catch Me if You Can example but for me it is a lot more difficult to blag your way as a professional footballer in the most difficult place to become a professional than it is to put on a pilot’s outfit and prance around for a while. This is far more extreme and a very different thing.”
Kaiser! The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football is being screened at Vue Liffey Valley, on Sunday, July 29th. For details of further Irish screenings see @kaiserfilm on Twitter.