The story of Carlos Henrique Raposo is a truly unique one and worthy of the feature-length documentary brought to life by filmmaker Louis Myles.
First uncovered by the film’s producers while researching for a documentary focused on one-time Southampton star Ali Dia, it has parallels with that particular Premier League cult legend, albeit on a far bigger scale.
Dia famously tricked Graeme Souness into believing he was the footballing cousin of George Weah and even managed to get on the pitch for Southampton before his lack of talent was revealed and he was quietly binned off.
Carlos Henrique Raposo or Kaiser as he became known, went one better – he managed to bluff an entire 26-year football career in his native Brazil.
Having apparently started out with French side Ajaccio, Kaiser took in spells with Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo and Vasco da Grama – Rio-s four biggest clubs – despite rarely if ever kicking a ball.
Along the way he encountered and befriended some of the country’s biggest names with everyone from Renato Gaucho to Bebeto among his friends with Kaiser’s reign straddling the Brazilian legends of the 1980s and 1990s.
The greatest of footballing con-men, Kaiser’s story plays out like a sporting version of the Steven Spielberg/Leonardo DiCaprio classic ‘Catch Me If You Can’ but on an almost unimaginable level.
Crime, sex and the occasional bit of pitch-side skulduggery all feature as part of a dizzying mix that sees the forward embroiled with gangsters, dodgy chairman, and even dodgier prosthetics.
An engaging interview subject, he’s full of stories about his football exploits – all away from the pitch of course – while his fellow pros (Zico aside) have nothing but kind words to say about him.
Kaiser is no fool though, proving as unreliable a narrator as Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects. The producers reckon around 60% of what he says is true. That figure might be more or it might be less but there’s a kernel of truth to his fantastical tales and it’s that balance that makes his story such an extraordinary one.
Myles and the team behind the film, to their credit, excel in reflecting this with Kaiser’s story coming off like the most fantastical of footballing rollercoaster rides, full of memorable stories and larger-than-life characters.
Blending honest interviews, dramatisations and stock footage, Myles successfully imbues proceedings with a uniquely Brazilian flavour.
It’s a film that transports viewers back to a time when Brazil’s biggest and best star lived a care-free existence in their homeland that featured plenty in the way of football, nightlife and scoring both on and off the pitch. No wonder Kaiser was so desperate to get a taste.
But like any rollercoaster ride, these things must come to an end and it’s only as the film progresses and the public persona Kaiser has worked so hard to cultivate slips that the documentary takes its most fascinating turn.
Gone is the bravado of the first half, giving way to a frank and surprisingly human portrait of the fragile masculinity that exists within so many of us.
We’ve all known someone who has blagged their way into a position beyond their talents.
Someone who has talked a good game but rarely delivered it. More often than not, it’s masking some secret or insecurity that would otherwise leave them vulnerable.
This story is no different. In a film where we are reminded again and again that nothing is what it seems, Kaiser is a complex character study that invites multiple interpretations.
Some will see him as a liar and a crook. Others might be more sympathetic. A few might simply enjoy the joyful madness of it all.
Whatever your perspective, one thing is undeniable: Kaiser is essential viewing whether you love football or loathe it. Go and see it as soon as you can.
Book your ticket at http://kaiserthefilm.co.uk/
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.