Evaristo de Macedo Filho, the first Brazilian striker in Barcelona’s history, achieved remarkable success throughout his career. He surpassed the combined goal tally of Ronaldo and Romario, had a higher average goals per match than Neymar and Rivaldo, and scored the goal that eliminated Real Madrid from the Copa del Rey. However, after two years, he made a move from Catalonia to the capital and joined Real Madrid. Evaristo holds a record for Brazil that even Pelé cannot surpass and has had a successful coaching career. Now, at 87 years old, he reflects on his life.
Born in 1933, Evaristo grew up in northern Rio de Janeiro and discovered his passion for football while playing on the streets. His journey took a turning point when he impressed coaches during trials at the local club, Madureira. Despite wearing shoes that were too small, Evaristo’s talent earned him a spot in the team. Over the next two years, he showcased his skills and scored 18 goals in 35 matches, including one against Fluminense at Maracanã.
Evaristo’s outstanding performances for the amateur club caught the attention of national selectors, and he received a call-up to represent Brazil at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. Playing alongside future World Cup champions Vavá and Zózimo, he made a name for himself. Following the Games, Evaristo, Vavá, and Zózimo received offers from various Brazilian clubs. Evaristo was delighted when his beloved Flamengo expressed interest, and he later won three consecutive state championships with them.
As a physically relentless striker, Evaristo achieved numerous records that remain unmatched. He scored 103 goals in 191 matches for Flamengo, including five goals in a historic 12-2 victory over São Cristóvão at Maracanã.
Evaristo also made his mark internationally, scoring five goals for Brazil in a resounding 9-0 victory against Colombia in the 1957 Copa America. Even the legendary Pelé couldn’t replicate this achievement. However, his journey with Flamengo diverged during the qualification campaign for the 1958 World Cup.
Barcelona made an irresistible offer to Evaristo’s father, prompting his move to the Spanish club. He quickly adapted to life in Barcelona and made an immediate impact, scoring in his first match and becoming the first player to score a hat-trick at Camp Nou. Under the guidance of coach Helenio Herrera, Evaristo won two league titles, one cup, and the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. He scored a total of 181 goals in 237 matches for Barcelona, with 105 goals coming in official matches.
Evaristo’s most memorable goal came in a Copa del Rey match against Real Madrid, where he scored a diving header that ended Real Madrid’s five-year reign in the competition. Barcelona reached the final that year but narrowly lost to Benfica in a match remembered as the “Final of the Square Goalposts.”
In 1961, Evaristo shocked the football world by joining Real Madrid. However, his time with the club was limited due to a serious injury. He played 19 matches and scored six goals, helping Real Madrid win two titles before retiring at the age of 33.
Following his playing career, Evaristo embarked on a successful coaching journey, winning trophies with Santa Cruz, Gremio, and Bahia. He also coached the Brazilian national team for a brief period but left due to disagreements with the Brazilian Football Federation. Evaristo later coached the national team of Iraq, which participated in the 1986 World Cup.
After retiring as a coach in 2005, Evaristo focused on his family and remains a dedicated Flamengo supporter. He cherishes his lifelong involvement in football and considers it a source of pride and success in his life.
Although Barcelona prevented Evaristo from participating in the 1958 World Cup, he still followed the tournament closely and celebrated Brazil’s victory. He believes that his contributions during the qualification stage played a part in their success, considering himself a champion in his own right.