Soccer's Greatest Con Man Made Millions Without Ever Kicking A Single Ball

Sports fans argue that competition shows the world who you really are. Under enormous pressure from fans and a dwindling clock, athletes either wilt or flourish, proving what they're really made of. One particularly bizarre sportsman, however, managed to hide his true self for decades. No pastime has ever seen an enigma quite like soccer star Carlos Kaiser. This con man managed to earn the devotion of thousands of fans, all while he pulled the wool over their eyes.

Football was life

In 1980s Brazil, soccer was everything. Then and now, soccer was and is the most popular sport in the country. Fans lived and died with every match, which meant that they celebrated their champions and vilified their underachievers. Still, there was one grand exception to that rule.

What he was missing

Enter Carlos Henrique Raposo — better known as Carlos Kaiser. Since he was a boy, he wanted nothing more than to become a professional soccer player. From the dizzying highs of an impressive goal to the crushing lows of an unexpected defeat, everything about the game left Carlos in awe. And with his colorful personality, sleek figure, and full head of hair, Carlos was only missing one crucial characteristic to becoming a soccer star.

His little problem

Carlos couldn't kick a ball to save his life. "I wanted to be among the other players,” The Brazilian explained. “I just didn’t want to play." That's a bit of a conundrum, huh? Carlos was so infatuated with the sport that he tried to incorporate it into every part of his life. He even fashioned himself after other players, taking his new surname from all-time great Franz "Der Kaiser" Beckenbauer.

He talked a big game

And the football fan made it his mission to get as close as he possibly could to the pitch without actually having to play. While still in his teens, Carlos won over a Mexican talent scout — mostly by talking a big game rather than playing one. He then signed with Club Puebla as a striker in 1979. It was his first real contract, though he never actually made it on the field.