LaLiga Former teammates discuss ex-Deportivo maestro
There is one word which comes to mind when you recall the career of Djalminha, and it is fun. The Brazilian was sensational during his spell with Deportivo La Coruna and his former teammates remember him fondly.
He started to draw attention when he was just 18, representing Flamengo’s senior team, however it was to be in Spain where he played his best football, winning a LaLiga title, a Copa del Rey and a Supercopa de Espana.
Though, with most geniuses, there was a flaw within the Brazilian’s sporting makeup and it would cost him perhaps the biggest moment of his career.
An incident involving Jabo Irureta, in which Djalminha headbutted his then coach at Depor, saw him lose his place at the 2002 World Cup, which Brazil would win, and it also led to his departure from Spain.
“It wasn’t as bad as the images made it look, it was a coming together which happen a lot in training, however this was an open session so everybody saw it,” explained former Depor teammate Fran.
“I’m convinced now that worse things happen but they just aren’t seen by the public.
“We have to judge it by assessing many factors, we’re all human beings and we can all make mistakes.”
It was an episode which showed just how much the Brazilian hated losing, even in training, which another unnamed teammate acknowledged.
“He was always involved in training, he showed his personality whenever he had the chance,” he confirmed.
“I remember that he once played with his ankle in a protective boot.
“He was injured, but his commitment was very high, he never hid in bad times and always wanted to get the team out of trouble.”
Pablo Pinillos was equally as complimentary, suggesting that he was one of the very few players who can truly influence results on their own.
“Sometimes there are footballers who do beautiful things with the ball that don’t really do any damage or carry any influence,” he said.
“However, everything [Djalminha] did was measured, he didn’t do a bicycle kick for no reason, anything he created was intended to hurt the opposition.
“He’s probably the best footballer I have ever played with and the one who had the highest creative ability.”
Donato was also amongst Djalminha‘s close circle and he brings a different insight into the midfielder.
“He was crazy, someone different, but he always brought his best to matches against the big teams,” he added.
“You knew that if he was on the pitch, you were going to enjoy seeing something.
“When he got the ball, you had no idea what he was going to do, when you remember how he played you can’t help but smile.”
Portuguese legend Pauleta also held him in the highest regard.
“Against Real Madrid, Barcelona or Celta Vigo, you knew he would win the game on his own,” admits Pauleta.
“In my career I played with icons like Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Djalma had a great impact on me.
“In his time he wasn’t protected like he would be now, defenders kicked him everywhere and this provoked him.
“However, he wasn’t innocent and he did a lot of tricks which wound defenders up, from time to time Irureta would put him in the substitute team in our training matches, and they would always win with him.”