Kaiser: The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football review – meet the Brazilian Mr Ripley
This gripping documentary tells an almost unbelievable tale about a man who conned club after club into funding his lifestyle as a football star in Rio
This is a fascinating documentary from British film-maker Louis Myles about someone who in the 80s and 90s became a legend in the world of Brazilian football. Someone whose pure outrageousness was hiding in plain sight. His rackety career tells you a lot about human nature and people’s willingness to be fooled; about a media that saw its job simply as cheerleading; and about the Enronised nature of celebrity. It reminded me weirdly of The Talented Mr Ripley, or Bart Layton’s classic The Imposter, in that it’s about a sociopath and parasite. It is by turns bizarre, funny and desperately sad. It’s also about something too poignant to be toxic masculinity – more like rancid masculinity; masculinity that has gone off, like old milk left out of the fridge.
Our antihero is Carlos “Kaiser” Henrique Raposo, now in his mid-50s, a former footballer from Brazil. He says his nickname is a respectful tribute to his playing resemblance to the German football star Franz “Der Kaiser” Beckenbauer, but it seems more likely that it’s because Kaiser was a brand of beer. For approximately 20 years, in the 1980s and 90s, Kaiser was employed as a footballer by a number of top Rio de Janeiro clubs. But he never actually played a match, never so much as kicked a ball. For all those years, he lived the life: he was a party animal and nightclub king. He was good-looking, a great dancer, a notorious womaniser and an inveterate wearer of tiny Speedos. He did everything footballers were supposed to do – except play football. The one time he was actually forced on to the field during a match, he pretended to have heard an opposing fan shout insults at the chairman, leapt into the crowd to start a fight and was duly sent off.Continue reading...