This is a tale of the ‘Kaiser’.
Usually when you hear that name you think of the legendary Franz Beckenbauer but this story is not about him. Instead it is about a Brazilian striker named Carlos Henrique Kaiser, or to give him his other title “the biggest conman in Brazilian football”.
There have been many famous examples of ‘fake footballers’, like Ali Dia the man who claimed he was George Weah’s cousin, but this story is different. This is a story about a man who did actually have a bit of talent and was a real footballer. The difference here is that Carlos Henrique wanted the life of a footballer but without the football part.
The ‘Kaiser’ has a fairly impressive footballing CV. He played for Vasco da Gama, Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo all in his native Brazil and then later on in Europe with Ajaccio.
A product of the Botafogo academy system, Carlos signed with Mexican side Puebla as a teenager and then went on to have a career spanning over 20 years in the 80s and 90s.
He played 30 games.
How does a player manage to have such a long career without actually playing? Well Carlos was a master. Not with a football, rather he was a master at manipulation and lying. He managed to duck and dive his way through the game by making contacts, hijacking transfers and befriending powerful people (he names Brazilian legends Romario and Edmundo as close friends)
“I wanted to be a player, without having to play.” Carlos Henrique Kasier
The tales of how Carlos actually pulled off some of these deals are so incredible you would think that they were made up. It was often said that in order to drum up interest in potential clubs he would walk around at training holding a large mobile phone, talking loudly to agents and “interested parties”. Only problem was the phone was a fake. He managed to convince teams (through his contacts) to give him lengthy trials for months on end. He would then claim he was unfit when he arrived. After nursing himself back to full health it was tradition for him to appear at training, kick a ball, and then immediately fall down in agony with a ‘serious’ injury. This was at a time when medical assessments were fairly primitive so nobody really questioned what had happened, and this usually resulted in Carlos extending his stay with whatever club he was at.
This training ground ‘routine’ did not work when he signed for Ajaccio. The fans had been promised a major signing so they all turned up in anticipation of their new Brazilian superstar. Carlos quickly realised that he couldn’t feign injury during this very public training session so instead he decided that every time a ball was kicked in his direction he would immediately thump every ball straight into the fans. They loved it.
From time to time Carlos did actually have to participate in a game, but even then his ability to twist a situation knew no bounds. During one game he was asked to come off the bench as a substitute. Carlos immediately decided that he didn’t really fancy playing so instead he instigated a brawl with some fans behind the dugout and he was sent off before even making an appearance.
He loved wine, women and song and wanted to live the playboy lifestyle only football could bring. Amazingly he achieved this during a career that wouldn’t look out of place as a work of fiction.
Carlos himself admits that many of the stories told about him might not actually be true, but the fact is, that just adds to the mystery of the man they called ‘Kaiser’.