Yet, every week about 100 Brazilian boys knock on the doors of the club from Rio, the majority from the poorest neighbourhoods, looking for a place in the academy of the club that boast former Netherlands midfielder Clarence Seedorf as their top player.
"Our players are already born with that technique and that dream of becoming footballers. We have hundreds of players coming in all the time for trials, between 100 and 150 players turn up for trials every week," academy coordinator Ney Junior told Reuters.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Botafogo were a top Brazilian team with Pele's Santos. Two outstanding players who emerged at the club went on to win the World Cup twice with Brazil in 1958 and 1962 - Garrincha and Nilton Santos.
But since the 1970s generation of world champions Jairzinho and Paulo Cesar Lima, who also came through Botafogo's junior ranks, the team stopped producing their own talent and this was reflected in a drop in the club's standing on the national scene.
In contrast, Flamengo, Internacional, Sao Paulo and more recently Santos invested in their academies and became purveyors of the biggest names in Brazilian football right up to the emergence of Neymar at Santos.
SOUTH AMERICAN TREND
Given the poor financial state of most of Brazil's clubs, who have accumulated years of debts, academies have become a key source of income for the teams who sell off young talent as soon as there is an offer from abroad, not just from rich western European clubs but also eastern Europe and Asia.
This trend, which has grown over the last decade as club costs have soared throughout South America, has also taken root in Argentina where teams have tended to sell teenage players well before most have developed their talent enough to succeed abroad.
"We lose our players very early on. When talking about Brazil's national team, the player leaves the country at 16, 17, 18, so we lose a player, an athlete, who doesn't develop a relationship with his own country and the national team, and then he rarely comes back to play any games because his club becomes a priority," Junior said.
Obliged by market conditions and poor results to search again for young talent, Botafogo's plan has begun to bear fruit.
The Botafogo team who this month won the regional Guanabara Cup, led by Seedorf, included three players from the club's juniors in the final against Vasco da Gama.
Central defender Doria, 18, stood out and media reports say he is a target for Italy's Juventus.
Doria, who entered the Botafogo academy at 14, is though a rare success story among the hundreds of boys who try their luck at the club every week.
Among the few who make it, even getting to the professional first team is a struggle that demands staying power amid poor quality training facilities, lodgings and family money problems.
"The thing (that hurts us) is the infrastructure and the family support which is not adequate. Also when it comes to nutrition and to general knowledge, (our) kids are much less well rounded than (young Europeans). In those things we also lag behind," said Junior.