Friedenreich, Pele, Dario, Claudio Adao, Roberto Dinamite, Zico... Brazil has produced a number of the world's all-time leading marksmen. One of them, despite his 39 years, is still going strong.
Tulio's inimitable career incorporates a catalogue of honours, ten goals in eight starts and six substitute appearances for Brazil, and the distinction of being one of only three players to have finished as top scorer in three editions of the Brasileirao. It would be enough to convince most players to luxuriate in retirement.
Tulio Maravilha, however, is as far from your average Joe as his strike rate is from standard. As he revealed to FIFA.com, football's foremost active scorer, who has netted 859 goals by his personal count, is driven by an insatiable desire to realise three towering aspirations.
"I have enjoyed a great career," he said. "My greatest moment was winning the Campeonato Brasileiro with Botafogo in 1995, but
Tulio is certainly doing his utmost to accomplish the former of these objectives; one which appeared improbable at the start of 2008. Vila Nova only achieved promotion into Serie B on the final day of last season, when the veteran goianiense's double earned them a 3-0 victory over Nacional-PB and made him the division's 25-goal top scorer.
He has picked up from where he left off, impelling O Tigre's challenge with 23 goals in 30 games - an incredible 13 more than his nearest rivals; Nunes, Pedrao and Corinthians sharpshooter Dentinho, one of the brightest prospects in Brazilian football who is 20 years his junior.
After a moderate start, Vila Nova won eight games in nine attempts to go second. However, three straight defeats have dropped them to fifth, behind fourth-placed Barueri on matches won. The Goiania outfit will attempt to arrest this sequence when fellow promotion hopefuls Ponte Preta visit the Serra Dourada on Friday. "It's a very important game for both sides," affirmed Tulio. "Ponte Preta are fighting for promotion, but I'm very confident we will win."
With, on paper at least, a favourable run-in, victory would leave Vila Nova in a strong position to finish in the top four, and Tulio is convinced he will resume the quest for his milésimo gol among the Brazilian elite next year. "We've had an excellent campaign and we deserve promotion," he affirmed. "I'm sure we will go up. We have a good team and a lot of experience."
Indeed, with five of the starting XI against Santo Andre last time out the wrong side of their 33rd birthday, Givanildo Oliveira's team resembles a waxwork museum. It is, nevertheless, one that continues to profit, with its most antique sculpture continuing to find the target with military regularity. So, what is the secret of Tulio's success?
"A lot of love, dedication, passion, determination and experience," he explained. "Football has been a big part of my life for so long, and I won't be finished until I fulfill my great ambitions.