Carlos Kaiser: The Farce Footballer Who Never Played A Match
At first glance, it may seem like Carlos Kaiser had an impressive career. Over ten years, he was on the books at some top clubs across the world, including Flamengo, six-time winners of the Brazilian top league, Mexican giants Puebla and French side Gazelec Ajaccio.
But Kaiser was a scam artist. Having realized himself that he simply did not have the skills to make it at the top levels of the professional game, he had come up with an unorthodox method of enjoying the life of a footballer.
Kaiser created a network, befriending players at top Brazilian clubs who could recommend him to their managers. He also formed close ties with sports journalists, who could write articles about his "ability" and "achievements".
Once he had successfully duped a club into signing him, Kaiser put the next stage of his plan into operation.
Arriving at his new club's training ground, he would feign muscle pain, claiming he needed time to build up his fitness before taking part in games. Then, in physical training, he would impress coaches with his pace and fitness. It was another part of the deception; the Brazilian kept himself in peak physical fitness so that he could impress coaches with his speed and stamina.
He also made extensive use of a fake mobile phone, pretending to take calls from his agent offering transfers to foreign clubs.
Once or twice, Kaiser's scam was nearly exposed. After signing for second division French side Gazelec Ajaccio, the club organised an open training session to show off their new acquisition. Fearing he would be exposed, the conman fired each ball that came to him into the crowd whilst kissing the club's badge.
Kaiser only spent a few months in France, but one of his journalists wrote an article claiming he had spent eight years with the club.
Back in Brazil with Rio de Janiero-based Bangu, Kaiser was ordered onto the pitch during a match after the club's chairman grew tired of their star man never actually taking to the field. In a panic, Kaiser saved himself by diving into a fight with opposition fans, earning himself a red card before he had to enter the field.
It was a scam that would go on for more than a decade, earning Kaiser money, fame and adulation. But this wasn't Kaiser's only scam. When he wasn't scamming clubs, he was stealing the identity of real Brazilian superstars, like Renato Gaucho.
As it happened, Kaiser's deception wasn't revealed until 2011, years after he had stopped masquerading as a footballer. Even then, he turned the situation to his advantage, cashing in on his "football career" by selling the rights to a film of his life which was released in 2018.