Brazil football legend Zico has accepted an offer to coach the Iraqi national football team. Zico arrived in the Iraqi city of Irbil on Saturday to negotiate the terms of his contract with Najih Hamoud, President of the Iraqi Football Federation. Iraq were drawn in Group A of the Asian qualifying berths for the 2014 World Cup alongside Jordan, China and Singapore.
Zico coached the Japanese national team into qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. He was also assistant coach of the Brazilian national football team under Mario Zagallo for World Cup 1998. In addition to Brazil and Japan, Zico has coached the club teams Fenerbahce, CSKA Moscow and Olympiakos. As coach, Zico is known for creating stylish, attack-oriented teams grounded in the philosophy of his coach and mentor, Tele Santana.
The former Brazilian international has been out of work since October, when he resigned as Executive Director of Flamengo citing difficulties getting along with Flamengo’s management. His resignation was all the more striking because Zico was the poster boy of Flamengo in the early 1980s as a player. He led Flamengo to victory in the 1981 Copa Libertadores, the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, and three national titles in 1980, 1982 and 1983. After a highly successful stint in Italy with Udinese from 1983-1985, Zico returned to Brazil to lead Flamengo to their fourth national title in 1987.
Nicknamed the “White Pele,” Zico ranks as one of the greatest Brazilian strikers of all time. Like Pele, Zico played as a striker from a deep, attacking midfield position and was known for his supreme ball control, clinical finishing and swerving free kicks. Zico wore the number 10 jersey for Brazil in 1982 and 1986 World Cups. He also played in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.