RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s old hero Zico hopes to persuade the United States to endorse his bid for the presidency of world football federation FIFA writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Zico, who scored 48 goals in 71 games for Brazil between 1976 and 1986,  was one of the first contenders to announce his ambition of succeeding Sepp Blatter after the 79-year-old Swiss decided to step down at an extraordinary election congress next February 26.

Despite his playing fame and career as a manager and even briefly Sports Minister since retiring from playing, Zico is a rank outsider who needs all the help he can get.

Even his own Brazilian confederation offered to support him only if he could obtain the necessary nomination endorsements from other countries.

The registration deadline for candidacy hopefuls is October 26 by which time each challenger must have the written support of at least five national associations.

Zico continues his attempt to try to win over more support when he meets Sunil Gulati, president of the United States Soccer Federation, later this month.  Later he is reported to have further meetings planned with other heads of the federations of central and north America  (CONCACAF).

The only two heavyweights to have declared themselves so far are Michel Platini, the French president of European federation UEFA, and Chung Mong-joon, the South Korean billionaire who is a former Asian vice-president of FIFA.

Other rank outsiders include former Trinidad and Tobago international David Nakhid, Liberian FA president Musa Bility and former Nigeria captain Segun Odegbami.