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Leonidas da Silva, 90; Invented Soccer's Bicycle Kick

January 25, 2004|From Associated Press

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Soccer great Leonidas da Silva, credited with inventing the bicycle kick, died Saturday from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 90.

His bicycle kick, which requires the player to flip over to kick the ball from an upside down position, made him the first superstar of professional soccer in Brazil.

His elasticity and acrobatic kicks earned him the nickname "Rubber Man."

Da Silva later came to be known as the "Black Diamond," and was the top scorer, with eight goals, at the 1938 World Cup, where Brazil came in third.

He also played for Brazil in the 1934 World Cup, where he scored the team's only goal before it was eliminated in the first round by Spain.

In total, he played 26 games with the national team and scored 25 goals.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Da Silva played for Flamengo, Vasco, Sao Paulo and Botafogo. He also played for Uruguay's Penarol.

He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease since 1974.

He will be buried today in Sao Paulo.

It was not immediately known whether he left any survivors.

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