by Tom Stewart
Born: Santos, Brazil (9/12/70)
Clubs: Flamengo, Guarani, Shimizu S-Pulse, Palmeiras, Deportivo La Coruna, Austria Vienna, Club America
International: Brazil (14 caps, 5 goals)
When you look back down the years and think of great Brazilian playmakers, you may immediately think of Zico, Ronaldinho, Kaka or maybe Rivaldo. But here I present to you a player whose natural ability could have seen him become one of the games greatest ever players- Djalma Feitosa Dias, aka Djalminha.
If you’re unaware of this genius then shame on you, where have you been?! I urge you to get yourself onto youtube now and watch one of many compilations of Djalminha’s outrageous skills.
Born in Santos, Brazil, Djalminha was quickly spotted by Flamengo and made his senior debut aged 18. However it wasn’t until he moved to Palmeiras eight years later that his career really took off, scoring 12 goals in 22 games for the Brazilian giants. It was here that he was awarded the 1996 Bola de Ouro (given to the Brazilian championship’s best player) as well as being handed his first cap for the national team.
In 1997 a move to Europe beckoned, and Deportivo La Coruna, then managed by Brazilian Carlos Alberto Silva, took Djalminha to North-West Spain for 10 million Euro’s.
He quickly became a hero in Galicia, wowing fans with his outrageous skills and deadly set-piece ability. He was an instrumental part of the team that pulled off the ‘Depor Miracle’ in the 1999/2000 season where the relatively small provincial club won the La Liga title. That season he scored an impressive 10 goals from midfield.
Here was a man who possessed the cockiness and self assurance to try literally anything on the pitch. From slapping an opponent while the referee wasn’t looking, to blind sided passes, to rainbow kicks, to flicking the ball over an entire defence into the path of a team mate. You may be wondering why, with all the ability in the world, is this man not considered one of the greatest ever?
The obvious answer is that Djalminha had an absolutely awful temper and an equally awful attitude. He would constantly fall out with team mates and managers and showed minuscule respect for authority.
His career at Depor was ended when, during a bust-up with manager Javier Irureta, Djalminha head-butted his manager. He was rapidly loaned out to Austria Vienna and because of this missed out on Brazil’s 2002 World Cup squad.
After his spell in Austria he moved to Mexican side Club America in 2004, playing just 5 games before retiring aged 34.
He has now moved back to Spain where he spends much of his time playing indoor football with his former Depor team mates.
My gift from me to you- Djalminha