Marcos Evangelista de Morais, universally known as Cafu, played more international matches for Brazil than any other player. Over a period of 16 years, he played a record 142 games and played in three World Cup Finals – winning in 1994 and 2002 and losing in 1998.
Raised in the Jardim Irene favela of São Paulo, at the age of seven he went to a local football academy. After being rejected by many clubs, in 1988 he was accepted by the youth squad of his hometown club Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo coach Tele Santana suggested he move from midfield to full-back, a position he was to make his own as the club won back-to-back Copa Libertadores in 1992 and 1993. In 1994 he was named South American Footballer of the Year.
He spent some of the 1994/95 season with Real Zaragoza in Spain and, after a brief return to Brazil, signed for Roma in 1997, where he enjoyed six happy years, playing 163 games and winning the Serie A title in 2001.
Cafu moved to AC Milan in 2003, where he won his second Serie A title the following year. While he was at the San Siro, the UEFA Champions League brought him one of the worst, then one of the best moments in his club career.
First he played in the Milan team which gave away a 3-0 first half lead in the Champions League final to Liverpool in Istanbul in 2005, and eventually lost on penalties.
Then two years later he was able to celebrate when Milan gained some revenge by winning a repeat Champions League final 2-1 against Liverpool in Athens. That year Milan also won the FIFA World Club Cup, defeating Boca Juniors in Yokohama. Cafu retired in May 2008. In his very last game, he scored a rare goal in Milan’s 4–1 victory over Udinese.
He was inducted into the Laureus Academy in 2015, the ceremony taking place at his own community sports programme, the Fundação Cafu – motto ‘Feeding Dreams’. The project was established in 2004 by Cafu as a safe, inspirational environment to help the younger generation to achieve their dreams, in Jardim Irene.
There 950 children from 3 to 17 and 300 adults are supported and encouraged to develop through pre- and post- school education, sports, and community activities such as choir, hairdressers’ school, graffiti, urban dances, basketball, football, capoeira, arts and crafts, as well as psychological counseling, health and awarness campaigns.
Cafu said: “I have always admired the work that Laureus does to help young people around the world. Using sport to help improve the fairness in our society is something that I believe in profoundly. I was really happy on my first day as an Academy Member that I was able to show the important work that we are doing at Fundação Cafu where you can see so clearly the impact that sport can have.”