A brief history...
The first Brazilian club to win the modern-day version of the Toyota Cup, in 1981, Flamengo are the standard-bearers for the working class of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil as a whole, and according to current coach, Júlio César Leal, are supported by "thirty million paupers."
"In Brazil, our people suffer a great deal and constantly encounter difficulties in daily life. But when you work for a club like Flamengo, supported by over 30 million people, you forget day-to-day difficulties for 90 minutes. This enables us to overcome our own limitations and maintain our will to win, despite the fact that winning one football match after another is far from easy," Cesar Leal explains.
The idea of excelling oneself has always been a key part of the history of Flamengo, a club born into poverty on 17 November 1895 at number 22 da Praia do Flamengo. Since then, it has hauled itself to the summit of the world game through sheer willpower and passion. The house where the club was founded was subsequently re-christened "the republic of peace and love", a fairly radical concept back in 1920.
Founded by fifteen rowers, eight of whom had just miraculously survived a shipwreck, the Club de Régates de Flamengo, to use its official title, only took up football in 1911 and did not play its first official game until 3 May 1912 against the Mangueira sports club (Flamenco won 16- 2).
Since that time, the whole of Brazil grinds to a halt for each "super clasico" between Fla (Flamengo) and Flu (Fluminense), the club of the affluent middle classes, erstwhile friend but now great rival. On derby days, normal life, not merely in Rio but all over Brazil, is put on hold. Everywhere, a real carnival atmosphere prevails as a festival of football unfolds, rich in colour and brimming with passion, as only the Brazilians know how.
Despite losing the first-ever clasico (3-2) on 7 July 1912 in front of 800 spectators at the Gavea stadium, Flamengo have since more than made up for this false start by accumulating an impressive list of honours.