Carlos Kaiser is Soccer’s Most Famous Con Man

Carlos Kaiser is a former Brazilian soccer player who had a career that spanned over 13 years and included stints with more than 10 clubs. But during that time, Kaiser never actually made it to the pitch and became known as soccer’s most famous con man.

Kaiser had the looks of a soccer player but lacked the skills to actually become one. However, this didn’t stop him from having a semi-successful career, thanks to the use of various deceiving tactics and cons.

Kaiser started his career in his native Brazil in the youth ranks of Botafogo and Flamengo before signing a professional deal with Mexico’s Puebla in 1979. He only spent several months with Puebla before being released by the club, most likely due to his lack of soccer skills.

After he returned to his native Brazil, Kaiser devised a daring scheme. He became friends with professional soccer players, coaches, and journalists so he would have a large network of those who could recommend him to a new club. Being in great physical shape, he would excel in physical training, making clubs more open to signing him without actually seeing him play.

Once he signed with a new club, Kaiser would say he lacked match fitness and would spend several weeks just training. Then, he would make up some injury that would sideline him for an extended period of time. These were mostly injuries that were hard to detect with the technology at the time, like hamstring injuries.

Kaiser built up his resume with a combination of fake stops and real clubs but didn’t mention that he never played. He also had journalists publish fake stories about his previous successes, accomplishments, and clubs interested in him.

He also had creative solutions for situations that threatened to expose his scam. For example, when he signed with the French club Ajaccio, the club organized a training session with fans to allow him to demonstrate his skills. Kaiser countered by kicking all the balls in the stands and then kissing a club badge on his jersey.

On another occasion, Kaiser was in danger of getting sent to the pitch while playing with Brazilian side Bangu. Being tired of never seeing him play, the head coach told him to start warming up. However, during warm-ups, Kaiser got into a physical confrontation with opposing fans and received a red card before managing to make it to the pitch.

Kaiser retired in 1992 after a stint with Botafogo. He now works as a personal trainer and has been the subject of a documentary called Kaiser! The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football, which came out in 2016.

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