Often called the "White Pelé", Zico was gifted with excellent technical ability and vision and was arguably the world's best player of the late 1970s and early 80s.
Having spent 12 seasons at boyhood club Flamengo, during which time he inspired them to a world club title, Zico was a wanted man in Europe.
After receiving offers from AS Roma and AC Milan, moving to Italy seemed right and a four-million dollar proposal from Udinese was on the table. Such amount of money made bigger clubs pressure the FIGC that blocked the transfer expecting financial guarantees. This caused a commotion in Udine as enraged Friulians flocked to the streets in protest against the Italian federation and government. At the end of the controversy, the deal went through and though leaving Flamengo fans in sadness, Zico made the Friulians fans finally dream of better days.
During his first season in Serie A, Zico delivered exactly what he had promised scoring 19 goals. He played flamboyantly, captivating the supporters of his new club. His partnership with World Cup winner, Franco Causio, threatened to take Udinese to the next level yet the team failed to truly deliver and could only manage ninth in the table.
The following season consisted of injuries and suspensions for Zico, the latter for openly attacking referees.
To add to Zico's woes, he was also having legal problems and was charged with tax evasion, which included a hefty fine and jail time. Unsurprisingly instead of serving his prison sentence, Zico decided to leave Italy and return to Brazil.
It was a sour end to a magical stay on the peninsula. However, to this day Udinese fans still fly Zico banners as a tribute to one of the most beloved 'Little Zebra’s' in the clubs history.