One of Brazil’s finest midfielders of all time, Paulo Roberto Falcão began his career with Sport Club Internacional, breaking through in the early 1970s after appearing for the Brazilian Olympic team in Munich in 1972. With Internacional the dominant club in Rio Grande do Sul state, Falcão’s career began with four consecutive state titles, the last two of which were followed by national titles. His form in those title winning teams saw him break into the national team for the first time at the end of 1976, gaining his first cap against the Soviet Union.
In 1978 Internacional took another state title, and Falcão, reaching the peak of his form, was named Brazilian Footballer of the Year. Twelve months later, that honour was his again as International became Brazilian champions again. He also got his first taste of a major international tournament with two appearances in the Copa América, and was by now attracting the attention of major European clubs.
When he did make the move to Europe, Falcão chose to go to Italy and to AS Roma. In his time in Rome through the early 1980s, the club won two Italian Cups and one league title, and agonisingly lost the European Cup final to Liverpool in a penalty shoot-out in 1984. Whilst with Roma, Falcão had also appeared in the World Cup for the first time in Spain in 1982. An incredibly talented Brazilian side was well fancied to win the cup, but fell in the second group stage to Italy after losing a game they only had to draw to go through. Falcão scored Brazil’s second equaliser, but could not prevent a 3-2 defeat.
In 1985 he moved back to Brazil to wind down his playing career with São Paulo. Although not by then a regular first team player, he appeared in a second World Cup in 1986, but played just twice in Brazil’s run to the quarter finals, both times in the group stage. His appearance against Algeria proved to be his last cap before retirement, and his playing career came to an end at the age of 33.
After Brazil’s second round exit from the World Cup in Italy in 1990, Falcão was appointed as coach of the national team, his first coaching position. Initially, he struggled to win games but at the Copa América of 1991, took the team to second place in the final group with only a defeat by fierce rivals Argentina denying them the title. After leaving the national team in 1991, he later coached Club América in Mexico and the Japanese national team, before ending his coaching career and moving into television work.