When Socrates left Brazil for Fiorentina in the summer of 1984, this was not purely a footballing decision. As was often the case, “Magrão,” had other motivating factors at play.
His move to Italy was the eventual result of a promise he made to the people of Brazil. Socrates was not only a captain on the field but a leader in the fight to end the military dictatorship that plagued Brazilian politics at the time. To this end, he declared publicly that if Brazil did not oversee democratic elections in 1984 that he would reluctantly leave for Europe.
Unfortunately for Brazil, and indeed Socrates, the wish of millions across the country was not met and Socrates endured a year away from Brazil. He described an acute homesickness that struck him shortly after arriving in Italy. His lifestyle of partying and drinking was not in step with Italian football and he felt out of place.
Never the less, as he did everywhere he played, he was still able to produced moments of characteristic style and grace. His public image of elegance and intellect also endeared him to the locals and his colleagues. The coach of Fiorentina at Socrates’ time there would remark, “Socrates was a very intelligent man, he had great class.”
There is a sparse amount of footage of his time in Italy but thankfully the kind people at Football History produced a compilation video of his time in Tuscany. Though relatively brief at just over 2 minutes, the video provides some of the fantastic goals and skills he produced for Fiorentina.