In 1922, the idol goalkeeper of the Brazilian team decided to retire from football . An amateur icon during the sport's so-called belle époque, Marcos Carneiro de Mendonça represented an entire football era that symbolically ended that year.
Who was this character? Caucasian and coming from high social segments, he was consecrated in Fluminense, winning three times the Rio de Janeiro football championship in 1917, 18 and 19. He was able to redefine the position, and create an aura of distinction seemingly unattainable for goalkeepers of his generation. Slender and photogenic, he had huge hands, which, according to legend, enabled him to save a penalty with just one of the hands. His “scientific” technique and performance earned him the fame of the “pegada à Marcos” freely translated in English as “Marcos-style save”. He was known in the stadiums as the “Fitinha roxa” (Purple ribbon), due to the ornament on the belt that he tied to his shorts. He had an elegant posture and came from a family that owned plants in the state of Minas Gerais. He married the poetess Anna Amélia, who dedicated Parnassian poems to him.
Parnassianism was precisely the literary style against which the modernists were mobilized in the 1920s, to advocate the replacement of the rhymed structure by free verse. The poetess' classic composition sought to characterize her husband's Apollonian jumps, and the verses had been written at the home of Coelho Neto, a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL), another target of criticism of modernism, in one of the Sunday soirees in which the team's players of Fluminense in the 1910s and 1920s met to discuss the results of the matches.
At the end of his career, engineer Marcos dedicated himself to athletics and History, becoming a member of the Brazilian Historical and Geographic Institute (IHGB). Disenchanted with football that was getting professionalized, the rich son of plant owners from Minas Gerais thus reconverted his investments in other football -unrelated activities that allowed him to cultivate an amateur aura, similar to that of football in the early 1920s.
Anna Amélia de Queiroz (1896-1971) was a Parna
ssian poet. She married the goalkeeper Marcos Carneiro de Mendonça, idol of amateurism, to whom she dedicated poems exhorting her Apollonian style. Photograph: Unknown Author | Família Carneiro de Mendonça Collection.
Fluminense Football Club team, three-time carioca champion (1917-18-19). Standing and in the center, highlighted by the differentiated uniform of goalkeeper, Marcos de Mendonça, recognized for the elegance in the athletic size and in the clothes. Photograph: Unknown Author | Fluminense Football Club Collection.
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Marcos de Mendonça poses for a photo framed by the goal posts, with the General spectators in the background. Photograph: Unknown Author | Fundação Biblioteca Nacional.