Nílton Santos in 2004
|Full name||Nílton dos Santos|
|Date of birth||16 May 1925|
|Place of birth||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Date of death||27 November 2013(aged 88)|
|Place of death||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Nílton dos Santos (Brazilian Portuguese: ['niwtõ 'stus]; 16 May 1925 - 27 November 2013) was a Brazilian footballer who primarily played as a wingback. At international level, he was a member of the Brazil squads that won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups.
Regarded as one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game, Nílton Santos is a member of the World Team of the 20th Century, and was named by Pelé one of the top 125 greatest living footballers at a FIFA Awards ceremony in 2004. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Golden Foot Legends Award. He was unrelated to his frequent defensive partner Djalma Santos.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, he was a pioneering attacking left back, being one of the first full backs to make runs down the wing to participate in the offensive game. Once he said: "I have never envied today's players the money but the freedom they have, to go forward". He played all his professional club career for Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas.
He was called "The Encyclopedia" because of his knowledge of the sport of football. He was world class both at defending and attacking and possessed very good technique.
Nílton was a key player in defence during the 1954, 1958 and 1962 World Cup finals (he was also in the Brazilian squad for the 1950 finals, but made no appearances) and became famous for scoring a magnificent goal in the 1958 tournament when Brazil played Austria. Dribbling his way through the whole field, he finished with a superb shot, driving his coach Vicente Feola crazy (he kept on insisting for Nílton to retreat to the defensive field, but was ignored until the goal was scored).
Santos died of a lung infection on 27 November 2013, aged 88, in Rio de Janeiro. He was the fourth 1958 World Cup champion to die in a few months, after Djalma Santos died in July 2013, Gilmar and De Sordi both in August 2013 and all of them within a year of the 2014 World Cup in their native Brazil.