You might have heard of him. If you haven’t, Carlos Henrique Raposo was the fake Brazilian striker who “played” for several clubs for about two decades without ever scoring a goal. Well, at least some say he scored one goal.
Growing up, Carlos was probably that Brazilian kid who loved football so much and fantasized about playing the beautiful game, to a point beyond most other Brazilian kids. He went ahead to use deception to become a fake footballer.
But Carlos was not always a fraudster. It is apparent that in his teens, he appeared to have a promising future. At age 16, he caught the eye of some scouts. At least he spent some time in Mexico and the USA with two clubs although he failed to make any appearances for them.
After that, it was becoming clear to Raposo that his young career was not getting off to a great start and his dream of becoming a football star was slowly getting endangered by his lack of play time.
He returned to Brazil but being smart, Carlos Raposo did not give up on football due to his lack of skill and talent. Instead, he rode the status of a footballer by placing himself in the esteemed company of star Brazilian footballers such as Romario, Ricardo Rocha and Renato Gaucho while enjoying the nightlife of a footballer.
And then there were the journalists who he would keep close, to help in writing and publishing fake stories about him.
Raposo’s real footballer friends were instrumental in recommending him and getting him to land short term deals in various football clubs. Once inside the club, he would ask for time to regain top fitness. Then he would get himself into a fake injury on the training pitch. After returning to Brazil from his early travels, he managed to join Botafogo and later Flamengo using this technique.
It is told that Raposo also employed the ploy of using a toy mobile phone on the training pitch. He would create and polish his fake image as a valuable star by pretending to be speaking English and declining offers from other football clubs. Of course, he was found out one day by a club doctor who was fluent in English. That didn’t stop him from moving on to secure other deals.
But his greatest tricks were yet to come. In 1986, Carlos Henrique Raposo was signed by French Division 2 side Gazelec Ajaccio. The story is told that at his presentation, he was to play in a training session with some of the club’s fans who were anticipating at least, some tricks and flicks from their new Brazilian star striker. Afraid of being found out and in need of a new trick, the smart conman carefully fired all the footballs into the cheering crowd and kept kissing the club badge. In the end, the practice match could not happen.
Another great trick is said to have been pulled off by Carlos Henrique Raposo at Brazilian side Bangu. The club president really wanted his newly signed striker to play. Playing would mean that Raposo’s charade will be exposed. When the D-Day came, the fake footballer warming up on the touchline and in need yet again of a new trick apart from a fake injury, saw some angry fans insulting his teammates. So he climbed the fence and went to the fans to rain insults on them. The referee sent Carlos off with a red card before he could come on the pitch.
The club president was not pleased with this incident but the fake Brazilian striker was not a conman only on the pitch. He sweet-talked the club president into forgetting the incident and even giving him more opportunity. Raposo told the club president that he was like a father to him. On that day, he saw the angry fans insulting the club president, calling him a thief, and he just couldn’t allow that to happen.
Without the requisite talent and endurance to make the high rise through the ranks, Carlos Henrique Raposo played the cards well, lived a lie and leading on several football clubs to give him a try, until he eventually hanged his boots without making any serious game time.
A book on him titled “The Greatest Footballer Never to Have Played Football” will be published in 2018.