Felix, goalkeeper with Brazil’s lauded 1970 World Cup-winning side, has died aged 74 from a lung complaint, local media reported on Saturday.
Felix Mieli Venerando was born in Caratinga in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais and played for his country between 1965 and 1970.
He was the last line of defence in the great Brazil team spearheaded by Pele, which saw off Italy 4-1 in the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico City.
Carlos Alberto captained the team, scoring a famous goal in the final, and he said that Felix had been plagued by ill health for a while.
“He smoked a lot. The other day, I was aware he was not well,” Carlos Alberto told O Globo daily.
“I am very sorry. It was thanks to him we won the title in Mexico.”
Felix, who was known as a smoker during his playing days -- even taking a crafty drag during matches on occasion -- died of pulmonary emphysema complicated by pneumonia.
“He told me that when the ball was up the other end, he would take advantage and light up a cigarette from one of the reporters stationed behind the goal,” niece Juliana Venerando told Folha de Sao Paulo.
Felix was on occasion dubbed the weak link in a team better known for its glorious creative attacking talents, and his daughter, Ligia Cardoso, said he took the criticism to heart.
She said that, following the win over Italy, he called her to say: “Now you can tell everyone that dad is not a ‘frangueiro’!” -- a pejorative slang term used to describe a keeper who regularly leaks goals.
The chairman of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Jose Maria Marin, said: “Brazil fans should be eternally grateful for Felix’s contribution to the Brazilian team. He is an idol who will leave a great void.”
Felix, who won 39 caps, played successively at club level for Juventus (1953-1955), Portuguesa (1955-1957), Nacional (1957-1960), Portuguesa again (1961-1968), and Fluminense (1968-1976).
A minute’s silence is to be held in his memory at the next round of Brazilian league games.