Getting to Know Flamengo: Brazil's Most Popular Club

Since facing Liverpool in the Club World Cup final back in December, Clube de Regatas do Flamengo – more commonly known as simply Flamengo – has gained interest from football fans around the world. Sitting comfortably at the peak of Brazil’s top division, Flamengo is a club with a long and rich history of close calls as well as success stories.


Found in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, playing at the world-famous Maracanã Stadium, the Brazilian giants are an essential part of the Latin American sporting culture and stand as a hub for budding talent that the football world cannot ignore.


With renewed fan engagement and worldwide interest peaking, getting to know Flamengo is essential for any sports fan following, watching or betting on any football club from leagues around the globe.


A short history lesson

Flamengo was first founded in 1895 during the proclamation of the Brazilian republic, not as a footballing team – but as a rowing club. They didn’t play their first official match until 1912 where they beat the now non-existent club Mangueira 16-2. That remains Flamengo’s largest numerical victory in their history.


Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Flamengo wasn’t particularly successful in terms of trophies and accolades but garnered more and more fans as the Brazilian leagues were merged and they participated in international tournaments around South America and Europe. It wasn’t until 1961 when Flamengo won the prestigious Rio-São Paulo State Champions’ Cup – a tournament which would go on to form the basis of the famous Copa Libertadores.


The ’70s would prove to be the club’s golden era as they won multiple league campaigns and domestic championships. They were crowned both champions of South America and the world in 1981 after the legendary match against Liverpool in Tokyo, which Flamengo won 3-0.


Following this era of success, the club’s trajectory slowly nosedived following financial problems and lack of star power. From 2001 to 2005, the club narrowly avoided relegation multiple times.


Newfound glory

Since the troubled mid-noughties, Flamengo has seen slow growth but is just recently rediscovering the sort of success the club enjoyed half a century ago. Despite a tragic start to the year which saw 10 teenagers killed at a training ground fire, 2019 would go on to be a successful period for the club after some shrewd player recruitment and the appointment of Rodolfo Landim as club president.


Reaching and winning the Copa Libertadores final, the first time they’d achieved this since 1981, Flamengo once again showed that they are a powerhouse in South American football – reinforcing this by winning the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A the same year.


The 2019 campaign broke a number of records in the league’s history, including most points (90) most goals scored (86) and longest undefeated streak the country had seen with 24 matches.


Home of legends

Flamengo is currently managed by Jorge Jesus, an icon of Brazilian football with 17 years as a player and 30 years as a coach. Like Jorge Jesus, there have been many legendary figures associated with the famous black, red and white of the Rio club.


From classical icons of the last century such as Júnior and Bebeto to more modern legends of the 2000s like Ronaldinho and Adriano, Flamengo has always had players who were established names or would go on to become them.


No one is more famous in the halls of both Flamengo and Brazil than the legendary Zico, however. After coming up through the ranks of Flamengo’s academy, he spent 12 years at the club before going on to represent the Brazilian national team – scoring 48 goals in 71 appearances.


Image: PA Images