Art and Culture  Obituaries 

João Filgueiras Lima ‘Lelé’, 1932-2014

Techniques and Commitment

Fernando Serapiao 

A little more than a decade before the Brazilian national football team embroidered its first star on the yellow shirt, the Vasco da Gama club had a right winger named Manuel Passanha. Though slow, he was the star of the Portuguese colony of Rio de Janeiro: the top goal-scorer, counting 13, of Rio’s 1945 championship. His weapon was a powerful right-foot shot that led him to play four football matches with the national team. His being the central figure of a carnival marchinha did not prevent football giants like Pelé, Garrincha, Zico, and Ronaldo from making Pessanha a dwarf in the history of the national sport. Even the experts don’t know who he was. He will nevertheless be remembered indirectly, outside the football stadiums and close to the drawing boards: the nickname he was known by, Lelé, was appropriated by a boy who played like him at 13, and who almost half a century later would be one of the giants of Brazilian architecture. João da Gama Filgueiras Lima, who died at 82 last May, was, simply, Lelé...

Included Tags: