The idea to found the football team now known as Botafogo emerged during a mathematics class at a Rio de Janeiro school, and their 104-year existence has certainly borne some striking statistics: a 24-0 victory, a 42-match unbeaten run in the Brasileirao and 46 representatives in the Seleção's FIFA World Cup™ squads - all records for a Brazilian side.
Based in front of the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain, the appeal of O Fogão nonetheless stretches far and wide, having adopted their black-and-white stripes in tribute to Italian giants Juventus, played in over 100 cities across five continents, and had over 60 clubs, from the Cape Verde Islands to the Czech Republic, named in their honour. FIFA.com brings you the story of Botafogo, to whom a plethora of Brazilian legends are most associated.
Birth of an institution
Flavio Ramos and Emmanuel Sodre were studying together when, during an algebra lesson, they decided to found a football team. The pair quickly assembled a group of friends, all aged 14 or 15, and together they incepted Electro Club on 12 August 1904. This name was quickly changed to Botafogo Football Club, which remained until they merged with Club de Regatas Botafogo to form Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas.
O Fogão participated in the inaugural Campeonato Carioca in 1906 and, one year later, finished the competition level on points with Fluminense at the summit. Following an 89-year dispute, the Clássico Vovô (Grandfather Derby) rivals were declared joint-champions.
Making of a legend
Botafogo swiftly developed a taste for emphatic victories, and their 24-0 defeat of Sport Club Mangueira during the Campeonato Carioca 1909 remains a Brazilian record. After losing their opener 4-1 to America the following year, O Glorioso (The Glorious), inspired by Mimi Sodre and Abelardo de Lamare, won their remaining nine games, scoring 65 goals in the process, to become state kings.
Botafogo seized five Carioca golds between 1930 and 1935, scoring 320 times in 113 outings during these triumphant campaigns. Dashing left-winger Patesko and forward Nilo made handsome contributions to these figures, but the side's chief headliner was Carvalho Leite. The striker arrived at the club as an 18-year-old, and struck 275 goals over 11 seasons before injury put paid to his career.
He was not the only competitor to devote his entire playing career to Botafogo. After Heleno had thrilled the Botafoguenses between 1940 and 1947, a 22-year-old by the name of Nilton Santos turned up for a trial. Although an aspiring forward, he was deployed at left-back, where he made a club-record 718 appearances over the ensuing 16 years.
Crucially, Nilton Santos persuaded Botafogo to gamble on a young winger with crooked legs, and they truly hit the jackpot by signing Garrincha. The pair became the Rio heavyweights' greatest all-time players, and together with luminaries such as Didi, Quarentinha, Zagallo, Amarildo and Paulinho Valentim, they composed the most vigorous symphony in the club's history, winning, in style, the Campeonato Carioca in 1957, 1961 and 1962, when they also brought home the Rio-Sao Paulo Tournament prize. To Botafogo's misfortune, they shared their peak with Pele's Santos, who, in 1962, beat them in the final of the Taca Brasil and the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores.
Another exhilarating side, one comprising Gerson, Paulo Cesar Caju, Rogerio, Jairzinho and Roberto Miranda, propelled them to Taca Brasil glory in 1968, before Botafogo suffered the longest wait for silverware in their history. Notwithstanding, an Alvinegro outfit with an emerging Osmar as its rock, and Mendonca as its fulcrum, went 42 games without defeat from October 1977 to July 1978 to set a Brasileirao record. This remains, incredibly, 24 matches more than any other Rio side have stayed unbeaten in the competition.
Botafogo finally ended an exhaustive, 21-year barren period in 1989, when a solitary Mauricio goal proved enough to sink Flamengo in the Campeonato Carioca final, and grander conquests were soon to follow: the Copa Conmebol in 1993 and, two years later, their maiden and only Brasileirao crown.
The indubitable star of the latter conquest was striker Tulio, who was the latest in A Estrela Solitária's long line on heroic No7s. Supporters of Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco may prefer to don replica No10 jerseys in tribute to Zico, Rivelino and Roberto Dinamite respectively, but to the Botafoguenses, nothing compares to the hallowed No7 carried so memorably by Paraguaio, Garrincha, Jairzinho, Rogerio, Zequinha, Maurício and Túlio Maravilha.
It is just another ingredient that adds to the seductive individuality of Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas.
The recent years
Botafogo flirted with relegation in 1999, 2000 and 2001, before eventually succumbing to the drop the following year. However, they overcame a series of hurdles to bounce back at the first attempt, and, inspired by playmaker Lucio Flavio and goal-getter Dodo, won the Campeonato Carioca in 2006.
Botafogo play their home games at the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange. One of the most impressive stadiums in South America, the Engenhão, as it is commonly known, opened last year with a capacity of 45,000. The club preiously called a number of venues home, including the General Severiano and the Caio Martins.