April 12, 2012 by joshilan14
There are two things that can destroy a footballers’ career; they are failure to meet expectations of them and greed. These two factors destroyed Denilson’s career, as he went from having the world at his feet at a young age to travelling the world as his career stagnated. He could have been remembered as a legend, but the lingering memory football fans have of him now is of a player who could have made it, but failed.
Denilson made his debut for his local club Sao Paulo in 1994 as a 17 year-old, and his impressive form saw him break into the Brazil side in 1996. He became an integral part of the Selecao and he played a key part in their victories in 1997 in both the Copa America and the Confederations Cup. He also started every match for his country at the 1998 World Cup as they finished runners-up to France. This form for his country as well as impressive performances for Sao Paulo saw Denilson attract the interest of Europe’s biggest clubs; this is where Denilson became greedy as he rejected Barcelona to sign for the unfashionable Real Betis for a then world record fee of £21.5million.
Denilson’s seven-year spell at Betis is largely regarded as an aberration. His spell in Seville saw Betis get relegated to the Segunda Division, shipped out on-loan to Flamengo and Betis attempted to offload him on many occasions due to him being a burden to the club due to his enormous wages. He still somehow got a World Cup winners medal when he was included in Brazil’s squad for the 2002 World Cup, in which he was mainly used as a substitute. South American football expert and journalist Tim Vickery says that Denilson failed because “He believed all the hype about himself, thought that he was well on the way to being crowned the world’s best player, and when he saw that it wasn’t going to happen he lost momentum.”
He finally left his Betis nightmare in 2005 when he signed for Ligue 1 side Bordeaux for an undisclosed fee. His spell in France saw him play regularly, but he was inconsistent in terms of his performances.
Greed prevailed again for Denilson as he left Bordeaux for Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr as they could offer the winger the excessive wages that he demanded. This was the beginning of the end of his career as he had left a club in a top league for a club in an inferior league.
FC Dallas was his next port-of-call, with the winger joining the MLS side as their first-ever designated player. This turned out to be yet another uninspiring move, as he scored one goal (from the penalty spot) in eight games, and he left the club at the end of the season.
Vanderlei Luxemburgo decided to sign Denilson for Palmeiras in 2008, hoping that he would recreate his old form. There is no need for me telling you that he failed to impress (again!) as he was mainly used as a substitute for the Brazilian side. After his release from Palmeiras; he was offered the chance to join clubs in England, Germany, Greece and Turkey, with the most notable interest coming from Bolton Wanderers, but he didn’t join any of the clubs he was offered the chance to sign for, presumably due to his wage demands.
Instead of returning to Europe, Denilson signed for the Itambiara, a club in the lower echelons of Brazilian football. He left the club three months later to sign for Xi Mang Hai Phong in the Vietnamese V-League, in which he became the league’s highest paid player of all-time by signing a £4million pound deal. He left after three weeks and one match due to injury. He signed for Kavala in the Greek Super League in 2010, but got released without playing a match.
His ill-fated spell in Greece turned out to be his last club, with Denilson calling an end to a career which was expected to make him a great, but ended up making him a journeyman who failed to live up to expectations. His greed hindered him from becoming a great and he made many wrong career choices. Some would argue that gaining 61 caps for Brazil and winning a World Cup must mean a successful career, but this fact his often overshadowed due to his many failures. He is now working as a sports network on Brazilian TV for Rede Bandeirantes, for whom he is a sports commentator. The enduring legacy of Denilson is underachievement and being unable to fulfil the expectations of him.
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