The death of the Brazilian who dunked, kicked and smiled his way to fame – the Guardian archive, 27 February 1943

Lourenço Fernandes da Silva, nicknamed “May” (in Portuguese “Funinho”) is one of the best-known figures in America’s futbol history, no doubt because of the Brazilian’s iconic chest-pounding outbursts, the one-armed celebration called “Chicken” and…

The death of the Brazilian who dunked, kicked and smiled his way to fame – the Guardian archive, 27 February 1943

Lourenço Fernandes da Silva, nicknamed “May” (in Portuguese “Funinho”) is one of the best-known figures in America’s futbol history, no doubt because of the Brazilian’s iconic chest-pounding outbursts, the one-armed celebration called “Chicken” and the “Die Ballüi” backflip which earned him a prohibition into US television and one of the most famous images of international football. Born in Saiza, Bahia, at the beginning of the 19th century, Funinho started playing for Bahia and then joined Santos at the age of 19. He remained at the club until his death in 1890. Funinho left Santos for Internazionale in 1892, just in time to play his last match for the team and his last game for football; the match was played at Piazza Navona, Rome, after Funinho was declined a transfer to Milan.

Funinho’s most famous and enduring moment was when he was sent off for a violent reaction to being fouled during a match in 1902. With his mouth wide open in the air, Funinho (who was later quoted as saying “Go ahead, kick me”, to a professional footballer who had broken his ankle) said: “Go ahead. Then it will be my turn and I’ll kick you too!” After that he spent most of his career in Italy and was heavily involved in the Swiss team over a decade, captaining them on occasion.

In 2003 Funinho’s great-grandson, Da Silva Aguiar Campos, joined the local club Curitiba, now part of Corinthians, which is based in an area of São Paulo where Funinho lived in the 1890s.

Family lore states that Funinho loved to ride a horse, and one of his fondest memories remains the time he rode alone up the mountains in front of the La Figueira Velodrome in Curitiba.

Leave a Comment