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Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha (born 10 April 1973), more commonly known simply as Roberto Carlos, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who now works as a football ambassador.[3] He started his career in Brazil as a forward but spent most of his career as a left back and has been described as the "most offensive-minded left-back in the history of the game".[4] Carlos is also widely considered one of the best left backs in history.[5][6]

At club level, he joined Real Madrid in 1996 where he spent 11 highly successful seasons, playing 584 matches in all competitions and scoring 71 goals. At Real, he won four La Liga titles and the UEFA Champions League three times. In April 2013, he was named by Marca as a member of the "Best Foreign Eleven in Real Madrid's History".[7] In August 2012, he announced his retirement from football at the age of 39.[8]

Roberto Carlos started playing for the Brazil national team in 1992. He played in three World Cups, helping the team reach the final in 1998 in France, and win the 2002 tournament in Korea/Japan. He was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1998 and 2002. With 125 caps he has made the second most appearances for his national team.[9]

Roberto Carlos took up management and was named as the head coach of Sivasspor in the Turkish Süper Lig in June 2013.[10] He resigned as head coach in December 2014.[11] In July 2015, he was appointed player/manager of Indian Super League club Delhi Dynamos.[12]

He was nicknamed El Hombre Bala ("The Bullet Man") due to his powerful bending free kicks, which have been measured at over 105 miles per hour (169 km/h).[13] He is also known for his stamina, running speed, technical skills, crossing ability,[14][15] long throw ins and 24-inch (61 cm) thighs.[13] In 1997, he was runner-up in the FIFA World Player of the Year. He was chosen on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team, and in 2004 was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.[16][17]

Roberto Carlos
Personal information
Full nameRoberto Carlos da Silva Rocha[1]
Date of birth(1973-04-10)10 April 1973
Place of birthGarça, São Paulo, Brazil
Height1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)[1]
Playing positionLeft back
Senior career*
1991–1993União São João0(0)
1992→ Atlético Mineiro (loan)3(0)
1995–1996Inter Milan30(5)
1996–2007Real Madrid370(47)
2011–2012Anzhi Makhachkala25(4)
2015Delhi Dynamos3(0)
National team
Teams managed
2012Anzhi Makhachkala (coach)
2015Akhisar Belediyespor
2015Delhi Dynamos
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Club career

Early years

I owe all clubs for which I worked, even to my little União São João, because we must never forget our origins. But I owe my coming to Spain to Atlético Mineiro, who gave me the opportunity to work on the team in 1992, a trip to the country. So I made a point to make it clear and I thank this important club for me to have opened the doors here in Europe. —Roberto Carlos paying tribute in 2014 to the two Brazilian clubs whom he started his career with.[18]

Roberto Carlos began his professional career playing for União São João, a football club based in Araras in the state of São Paulo. In 1992, despite playing at what was seen as a lesser club and only being 19 years old, he was called up for the Brazil national team. In August 1992, aged 19, he joined Atlético Mineiro on loan and went on the club's tour of Europe.[19][20][21] The tour consisted of the B team, as the club was prioritising the first Copa CONMEBOL in South America at the same time. The tour served as a test for many players, and those who stood out could be integrated definitively to the main group. Roberto Carlos did not participate in the first two games in Italy but played the full match against Lleida in Spain on 27 August in a match for the Ciutat de Lleida Trophy. He remained in the team for the next two games, held in Logroño, against Logroñés and Athletic Bilbao. Before retiring from football in 2014, Roberto Carlos thanked Atlético Mineiro for the opportunity.[18]

In 1993, Roberto Carlos joined Palmeiras, where he played for two seasons, winning two consecutive Brazilian league titles. After almost signing for Aston Villa side in 1995, Roberto Carlos chose a move to Inter Milan, in the Serie A, playing one season for the Nerazzurri. He scored a 30-yard free-kick on his debut in a 1–0 win over Vicenza[22] but his season at Inter was unsuccessful, with the club finishing seventh in Serie A.

In an interview with FourFourTwo in a May 2005 issue, Roberto Carlos said that the then-coach of Inter, Roy Hodgson, wanted him to play as a winger, but Carlos wanted to play as a left back. Carlos spoke to Inter owner Massimo Moratti "to see if he could sort things out and it soon became clear that the only solution was to leave".[23]

Real Madrid

Roberto Carlos can cover the entire [left] wing all on his own. —Real Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque on Roberto Carlos having the ability to defend and attack the left side of the field by himself.[24]

Roberto Carlos joined Real Madrid in the year 1996 close season, where he was given the number 3 shirt and held the position as the team's first choice left-back from the 1996–97 season until the 2006–07 season. During his 11 seasons with Madrid, he appeared in 584 matches in all competitions, scoring 71 goals. He is Real Madrid's most capped foreign-born player in La Liga with 370 appearances, after breaking the previous record of 329 held by Alfredo Di Stéfano in January 2006.[25] During his Real Madrid career, Roberto Carlos was, alongside Milan and Italy legend Paolo Maldini, considered the greatest left-back in the world.[26][27][28] As a high-profile player and one of the most influential members of the team,[13] Roberto Carlos was considered one of Madrid's Galácticos during Florentino Pérez's first tenure as club president.[29]

He won four La Liga titles with Madrid, and played in the 1998, 2000 and 2002 UEFA Champions League finals, assisting Zinedine Zidane's winning goal in 2002, considered one of the greatest goals in Champions League history.[30][31] Roberto Carlos was named as Club Defender of the Year and included in the UEFA Team of the Year in 2002 and 2003. In the later part of his Real Madrid career, Carlos was named as one of the club's "three captains" alongside Raúl and Guti.[32] Renowned for getting forward from his left-back position and scoring spectacular goals, in February 1998, he scored arguably his most memorable goal for Real Madrid with a bending volley struck with the outside of his left foot from near the sideline in a Copa del Rey match against Tenerife in what was described as an "impossible goal".[33]

On the final day of the 2002–03 season, with Madrid needing to beat Athletic Bilbao to overtake Real Sociedad and win their 29th La Liga title, Carlos scored from a free-kick in the second minute of first half stoppage time to put los Blancos 2–1 ahead.[34] The team eventually ran out 3–1 winners to wrap up the title.[34] On 6 December 2003, Roberto Carlos scored the opening goal for Madrid as they beat Barcelona in El Clásico at Camp Nou for the first time in a La Liga match in 20 years.[35]

In March 2007, in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 against Bayern Munich, Roberto Carlos failed to control the backpass when Madrid kicked off, allowing Bayern's Hasan Salihamidžić to steal the ball and feed to Roy Makaay, who scored the quickest goal in Champions League history at 10.12 seconds.[36] Roberto Carlos bore the brunt of criticism for that mistake which led to the team's elimination from the Champions League, and, on 9 March 2007, he announced he would leave Real Madrid upon the expiration of his contract at the end of the 2006–07 season.[37] His final goal for Real Madrid was a stoppage time winner against Recreativo de Huelva with three games remaining in the 2006–07 La Liga season.[38] The goal proved to be crucial to Real Madrid winning its 30th league title as they eventually finished level on points with Barcelona, becoming champions via the head-to-head rule. Madrid clinched La Liga in Roberto Carlos' final match, a 3–1 win over Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.[39]


On 19 June 2007, Roberto Carlos signed a two-year contract (with one year optional) with the Turkish Süper Lig champions Fenerbahçe; he was presented at club's home ground, the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, in front of thousands of fans.[40][41] In the first official match he played with the team, Fenerbahçe won the Turkish Super Cup against Beşiktaş by a score of 2–1. During a league match against Sivasspor, he scored his first goal for Fenerbahçe on 25 August 2007 from a diving header, which was only the third headed goal of his career. He was injured during the final period of the same season and missed the title race between Fenerbahçe and rivals Galatasaray.[42] His team eventually lost the title to their rivals, while guaranteeing a place for themselves in Champions League knockouts for the next season. He announced that he was unhappy about the final result and would do his best to carry the domestic trophy back to the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.[43]

On 7 October 2009, Roberto Carlos announced that he would leave Fenerbahçe when his contract expired in December 2009. He offered to return to Real Madrid and play for free, though he also said return to the Brazilian domestic leagues was a possibility,[44] and announced his departure on 25 November. He made his last appearance for Fenerbahçe on 17 December, as a late substitute against Sheriff Tiraspol in the UEFA Europa League.[45]


Roberto Carlos in Corinthians signing ceremony

Roberto Carlos in Corinthians signing ceremony

After 15 years away from Brazil, Roberto Carlos returned to his country in 2010 to play for Corinthians, joining his friend and former Real Madrid teammate Ronaldo. On 4 June 2010, Roberto Carlos scored a goal against Internacional and helped Corinthians to move to the top of the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A table. The Timão won the game 2–0.[46] On 16 January 2011, Roberto Carlos scored an impressive goal directly from a corner kick against Portuguesa. Concerned with his safety after being threatened by fans after the Copa Libertadores da América defeat to Colombian club Tolima, Roberto Carlos requested his release by the club, which promptly facilitated by Corinthians.[47]

Anzhi Makhachkala

Roberto Carlos in August 2011

Roberto Carlos in August 2011

On 12 February 2011, Roberto Carlos signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Russian Premier League club Anzhi Makhachkala,[48] worth approximately €10 million.[49] Playing in a defensive midfield position, Roberto Carlos was named captain of Anzhi on 8 March. On 25 April, he scored his first goal for Anzhi in a 2–2 draw with Dynamo Moscow, converting a 58th minute penalty.[50] On 30 April, he scored his second goal, converting a penalty in a 1–0 win over Rostov, and on 10 June, he then scored his third goal on a 20th minute in a 2–0 win over Spartak Nalchik.

On 11 September 2011, Roberto Carlos scored his fourth goal in a 2–1 win over Volga Nizhny Novgorod. As of his first season for Anzhi, Roberto Carlos made 28 appearances and scored five goals. On 30 September, he became the caretaker coach of Anzhi following the sacking of Gadzhi Gadzhiyev, before Andrei Gordeyev assumed the role also in a caretaker capacity.[51] Roberto Carlos announced his plans to retire at the end of 2012, but continued to work behind the scenes at Anzhi.[52] In August 2012, Anzhi coach Guus Hiddink confirmed his retirement at a news conference in Moscow, also stating, "Roberto was a world class football player. Every master's career ends at some point."[8]

Racism in Russia

In March 2011, during a game away at Zenit Saint Petersburg, a banana was held near Carlos by one of the fans as the footballer was taking part in a flag-raising ceremony.[53] In June, in a match away at Krylia Sovetov Samara, Roberto Carlos received a pass from the goalkeeper and was about to pass it when a banana was thrown onto the pitch, landing nearby. The 38-year-old Brazilian picked it up and threw it by the sidelines, walking off the field before the final whistle and raising two fingers at the stands, indicating this was the second such incident since March.[54][55]

International career

Roberto Carlos in 2006 with the Brazil national football team

Roberto Carlos in 2006 with the Brazil national football team

Roberto Carlos's 'banana shot' against France in 1997 Tournoi de France

Roberto Carlos's 'banana shot' against France in 1997 Tournoi de France

Roberto Carlos amassed 125 caps, scoring 11 goals for the Brazilian national team.[56] He represented Brazil at three FIFA World Cups, four Copa América tournaments, the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 1996 Olympic Games.

He is especially famous for a free kick against France in the inaugural match of Tournoi de France 1997 on 3 June 1997. The ball curled so much that the ball boy ten yards to the right ducked instinctively, thinking that the ball would hit him. Instead, it eventually curled back on target, much to the surprise of goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, who just stood in place. That particular attempt is considered by some to be the greatest free kick of all time.[57] In 2010, a team of French scientists produced a paper explaining the trajectory of the ball.[58]

At the 1998 World Cup, he played seven matches, including the final loss to France. After a qualifying game for the 2002 World Cup which was held in South Korea/Japan, Paraguay goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert spat on Roberto Carlos, an action which caused FIFA to give Chilavert a three-match suspension and forced him to watch the first game of the World Cup from the stands. Roberto Carlos played six matches in the finals, scoring a goal from a free kick against China, and was a starter in the final against Germany, with Brazil winning 2–0. After the tournament, he was also included in the World Cup All-Star Team.[59]

Roberto Carlos' next international tournament was the 2006 World Cup. In July 2006, after Brazil's 1–0 defeat to France in the quarter-finals, he announced his retirement from the national team, saying, "I've stopped with the national team. It was my last game."[60] He said he no longer wanted to play for Brazil because of the criticism he faced from fans and Brazilian media for his failure to mark goalscorer Thierry Henry on France's winning goal.[61]

Upon signing with Corinthians in January 2010, Roberto Carlos told TV Globo that he hoped to play at the 2010 World Cup and believed his return to Brazilian football may help him return to the national team, as manager Dunga had yet to settle on a left back.[61] However, he was left off the 30-man provisional squad that was submitted to FIFA on 11 May 2010, along with Ronaldinho and Ronaldo.[62] Despite his deep desire to do so, Roberto Carlos was ultimately not named in Dunga's final squad of 23 for the Brazilian squad for the World Cup. Instead, Brazil newcomer Michel Bastos earned a spot for the left back position.[63]

International goals

Roberto Carlos – goals for Brazil

16 June 1995Goodison Park, Liverpool, EnglandJapan3–03–0Umbro Cup
23 June 1997Stade de Gerland, Lyon, FranceFrance0–11–1Tournoi de France
38 June 1997Stade de Gerland, Lyon, FranceItaly2–13–3Tournoi de France
426 June 1999Arena da Baixada, Curitiba, BrazilLatvia2–03–0International Friendly
59 October 1999Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, NetherlandsNetherlands1–02–2International Friendly
69 August 2001Arena da Baixada, Curitiba, BrazilPanama5–05–0International Friendly
78 June 2002Jeju World Cup Stadium, Seogwipo, South KoreaChina PR1–04–02002 FIFA World Cup
812 October 2003Walkers Stadium, Leicester, EnglandJamaica1–01–0International Friendly
99 February 2005Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong, Hong KongHong Kong2–07–12005 Carlsberg Cup
108 June 2005El Monumental, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaArgentina3–13–1World Cup Qualifying
1112 October 2005Mangueirão, Belém, BrazilVenezuela2–03–0World Cup Qualifying


Roberto Carlos has appeared in commercials for the American sportswear company Nike.[64][65] In 1998, he starred in a Nike commercial set in an airport in the buildup to the 1998 World Cup alongside a number of stars from the Brazil national team, including Ronaldo and Romário.[64]

In a worldwide Nike advertising campaign in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, Roberto Carlos starred in a "Secret Tournament" commercial (branded "Scopion KO") directed by Terry Gilliam, appearing alongside other star footballers, including Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Francesco Totti, Ronaldinho, Luís Figo and the Japanese Hidetoshi Nakata, with former player Eric Cantona the tournament's "referee".[66][67]

Roberto Carlos has also starred in Pepsi commercials, including a 2002 World Cup Pepsi advertisement where he lined up alongside David Beckham, Raúl and Gianluigi Buffon in taking on a team of Sumo players.[68]

Roberto Carlos features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series, and was selected to appear on the cover of FIFA Football 2003 alongside Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs and Juventus midfielder Edgar Davids.[69] He was named in the Ultimate Team Legends in FIFA 15.[70] In 2015, the arcade game company Konami announced that Roberto Carlos would feature in their football video game Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 as one of the new myClub Legends.[71]

In 2016, Roberto Carlos launched a software called Ginga Scout that connects players with coaches across the globe.[72] In April 2018, Carlos was announced as ambassador of Morocco's candidature of the 2026 FIFA World Cup.[73]


On 16 June 2019, Roberto Carlos took part in Soccer Aid at Stamford Bridge, London.[74] He played for the World XI team which was captained by Usain Bolt and they beat the England XI on penalties.[75]

Managerial career

Anzhi Makhachkala

Roberto Carlos in 2012

Roberto Carlos in 2012

Roberto Carlos had a brief spell as interim manager at Anzhi Makhachkala in early 2012. He later criticised the club upon resigning alongside manager Guus Hiddink.[76]


Roberto Carlos was appointed manager of Turkish Süper Lig team Sivasspor in June 2013.[77] On 21 December 2014, he left the club following a defeat to İstanbul BB.[78]

Akhisar Belediyespor

On 2 January 2015, Roberto Carlos was appointed as manager of Akhisar Belediyespor.[79]

Delhi Dynamos

After finishing his season in Turkey, Roberto Carlos signed for Al-Arabi of the Qatari Stars League, but due to talks breaking down, he did not join the Qatari club.[80] Then, on 5 July 2015, it was announced that he had signed to be the head coach of the Delhi Dynamos of the Indian Super League for the 2015 season.[81]

At the end of the season, it was announced that he would not return to Delhi Dynamos in 2016.[82]

Doping accusations

In 2017, a report of investigative journalists of German broadcasting station ARD revealed doping practices in Brazil, including physician Júlio César Alves who claims to have treated Carlos for many years. Carlos denied the allegations.[83][84]

Personal life

  • Giovanna da Silva Rocha

  • Luca da Silva Rocha

  • Roberto Carlos Júnior da Silva Rocha

  • Christopher da Silva Rocha

  • Carlos Eduardo da Silva Rocha

  • Manuela da Silva Rocha

  • Rebeca da Silva Rocha

  • Roberta da Silva Rocha

  • Marina

On 24 June 2005, Roberto Carlos was robbed by two gunmen while doing a live radio interview. He was not hurt but they took his watch and the interviewer's cellular phone.[85]

On 2 August 2005, he received dual Spanish and Brazilian citizenship. This proved important for Real Madrid, as it meant that he now counted as a European Union player, opening up one of the club's allowed three slots for non-EU players and enabling Real Madrid to sign fellow Brazilian star Robinho. Roberto Carlos has a son named João Afonso. For his 38th birthday, it was reported that Anzhi Makhachkala owner Suleyman Kerimov bought him a Bugatti Veyron.[86] Roberto Carlos has 9 children.[87] In October 2017, at age 44, he became a grandfather when his daughter Giovanna gave birth to a son.[88]

Career statistics


Club performanceLeagueCupContinentalTotal
BrazilLeagueCopa do BrasilSouth AmericaTotal
1993PalmeirasSérie A201503211
ItalyLeagueCoppa ItaliaEuropeTotal
1995–96Inter MilanSerie A3052121347
SpainLeagueCopa del ReyEuropeTotal
1996–97Real MadridLa Liga37550425
TurkeyLeagueTurkish CupEuropeTotal
2007–08FenerbahçeSüper Lig2223090342
BrazilLeagueCopa do BrasilSouth AmericaTotal
2010CorinthiansSérie A3518057242
RussiaLeagueRussian CupEuropeTotal
2011–12AnzhiRussian Premier League29431325
2015Delhi DynamosIndian Super League2020
Career total5736661916223820102
  • Also played 6 (1997, 2001, 2003) Supercopa de España matches.

  • Also played 3 (1998, 2000, 2002) UEFA Super Cup matches where he scored 1 goal (2002).

  • Also played 3 (1998, 2000, 2002) Intercontinental Cup matches where he scored 1 goal (2000).

  • Also played 1 (2007) Turkish Super Cup match.

1includes 7 matches and 0 goals in 1993 Torneio Rio – São Paulo.

2includes 14 matches and 3 goals in 2010 Campeonato Paulista.

3includes 3 matches and 1 goal in 2011 Campeonato Paulista.


Brazil national team

Managerial statistics

As of 20 December 2015
Managerial record by team and tenure
Sivasspor3 June 201321 December 201459239279094−4038.98
Akhisar Belediyespor11 January 20151 June 2015205782528−3025.00
Delhi Dynamos3 July 201520 December 2015167451923−4043.75
Career totals95352040134145−11036.84



  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (2): 1993, 1994

  • Campeonato Paulista (2): 1993, 1994

  • Torneio Rio-São Paulo: 1993

Real Madrid
  • Turkish Super Cup (2): 2007, 2009




  • Bola de Prata (3): 1993, 1994, 2010

  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 1997 (Silver Award)

  • ESM Team of the Year (7): 1996–97, 1997–98, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04

  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (2): 1998, 2002

  • Trofeo EFE: 1997–98

  • UEFA Club Defender of the Year (2): 2002, 2003

  • UEFA Team of the Year (2): 2002, 2003

  • Ballon d'Or: 2002 (Runner-up)

  • Golden Foot: 2008

  • Sports Illustrated Team of the Decade: 2009[95]

  • ESPN World Team of the Decade: 2009[96]

  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Team of the Year: 2010[97]

  • FIFA 100

  • Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame

See also

  • List of footballers with 100 or more caps


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