RIO DE JANEIRO: Socrates, Brazil’s iconic captain and playmaker at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, has lost a long battle with illness, aged 57, He had been ill, on and off, for several years.

Last Thursday he was taken ill and admitted to the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo suffering from a suspected case of food poisoning. He later suffered septic shock from infection and was placed in intensive care before being pronmounced dead in the early hours of this/Sunday Sunday morning.

It was the third time in four months that Socrates, who leaves a wife and six sons, had been treated at an intensive care unit since alcohol abuse caused his stomach to haemorrhage in August. He spent 17 days in hospital in September but had been hoping his health would stabilise ahead of a liver transplant.

Tall and languid but marvellously skilled, Socrates enjoyed a distinguished playing career, playing his club football for Corinthians, Botafogo, Italy’s Fiorentina, Flamengo and Santos. He scored 22 goals in 60 games for Brazil but was never a World Cup-winner.

Socrates – full name Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Sousa Vieira de Oliveira – scored 172 goals in 297 games for Corinthians, his main club. He won three state championships and was a founder of the Democracia Corinthians political movement in the days of military dictatorship.

In 2004, more than a decade after retiring, Socrates made one shock substitute’s appearance for part-time Garforth Town in the English minor Northern Counties East Football League against Tadcaster Albion.