Socrates, in 1986

A few years ago, Time magazine had me call Socrates to ask him if he would pen a short piece on Kaka.

The magazine’s editors – perhaps the same ones who suggested last month that Lionel Messi was better than Pele – had chosen Kaka as one of the 100 most influential people on the planet and they wanted Socrates to write an eulogy.

Socrates had one question for me. Is this about Kaka the footballer or Kaka the man, he asked. Kaka, the man, I replied.

To my delight, Socrates dismissed the idea out of hand. He had great respect for Kaka with a ball at his feet but not with a bible in his hand.

Time got Casey Keller to write the piece instead.

I thought of this last night when I saw that Neymar had described Ricardo Teixeira as “an excellent president” of the CBF. The young Santos star made the comments on the same day that Edmundo declared that he “loved” Ricardo Teixeira and a few days after Ronaldo and Bebeto both lauded Teixeira’s work.

(See the Neymar comments in Portuguese here, and details of Ronaldo and Bebeto’s nonsense here in my Reuters piece from last week.)

Socrates was not just a brilliant footballer. He was an intelligent and highly  principled man who fought hard so that players like Neymar could have more of a voice, both inside and outside the game.

He must be rolling in his grave.