|Full name||Valdir Pereira|
|Date of birth||8 October 1928|
|Place of birth||Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil|
|Date of death||12 May 2001(aged 72)|
|1944||São Cristóvão FC|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Valdir Pereira (8 October 1928 – 12 May 2001), was a former Brazilian football player. He has played for the Brazil national team. Together with Pelé, Vavá, Garrincha and Mário Zagallo, he formed the attack of the Brazilian team that became world champions in 1958 and 1962. Considered as one of the greatest midfielders of all time. Didi was a very gifted playmaker known for his long balls and free kicks. He was the inventor of the folha seca ("dry leaf") with which he gave the ball such an effect that it seemed as if it would disappear over the goal but at the last moment disappeared between the posts like a dry leaf falling from the tree had fallen.
Early life[change | change source]
Didi was born in Campos dos Goytacazes, located 200 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro. There he learned to play football in the street in barefoot matches. At the age of 14, Didi almost had to give up after he was injured and an infection developed on his right knee. It looked like his leg would have to be amputated, but Didi recovered after spending six months in a wheelchair. Two years later, he signed his first contract in his hometown with the club of the same name.
Club career[change | change source]
Didi started playing football for Madureira in 1947. In 1949 he transferred to Fluminense, one of Rio's biggest clubs. There, Didi impressed, but in 1950 he was still too young to participate in the World Cup in his own country. That same year he was part of a representative team from Rio that opened the Maracanã against a team from São Paulo. In the game, Didi scored the first ever goal in one of the largest stadiums in the world. A year later he won the Rio de Janeiro State Championship with his club and the Copa Rio the following year. However, Didi ran into trouble at the time when Fluminense's arch-rival Botafogo, tried to get him in. The relationship between Fluminense and Didi deteriorated as a result, also because he was criticized after he left his wife and young daughter for the actress Guiomar Batista. Finally, in 1956, after seven years, Didi made the switch to Botafogo for two million cruzeiro, a record amount at the time. At Botafogo, he immediately bonded with Nílton Santos and Garrincha, with whom he would celebrate the State Championship together a year later. In 1959, the playmaker made the move to Real Madrid , where he became the first black player in club history. Real were one of the best clubs in the world at the time, but Didi had a frustrating period there. Didi was unable to force a starting spot and ran into problems with Alfredo Di Stéfano , who did not want to share his star status. The Brazilian therefore decided to return to Botafogo after two seasons. With that club he again won the State Championship in 1961 and 1962. The playmaker went on to play for several other clubs before ending his active career in 1966.
International career[change | change source]
Didi made his debut for the Brazilian national team in 1952. Two years later he made his appearance at the World Cup in Switzerland. There, Brazil was sent home to Hungary in the quarter-finals after a match that would go down in history as the Battle of Bern. It was one of the most unsportsmanlike matches in World Cup history. By 1958 Didi had become one of the key figures of the Brazilian national team that traveled to the World Cup in Sweden with a revolutionary 4-2-4 formation. At the time, it was Didi who gave confidence to 17-year-old PeléThe team eventually took home the title. After Brazil fell 1-0 behind Sweden in the final, Didi turned things around and went on to win 5-2. Didi was subsequently voted the best player of the World Cup.
Didi wanted to participate but the Brazilian press complained that the 33-year-old playmaker would be too old for it. Didi countered: "it's the ball that has to do the work, not the player". Brazil again reached the final, beating Czechoslovakia 3-1. It was Didi's last international match.
Managerial career[change | change source]
After his active career, Didi was active as a trainer in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Didi had his greatest success in 1970 when he guided Peru to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. It eventually lost to the later world champion Brazil. In addition, he won the double with Fenerbahçe in 1974 and managed to extend the national championship a year later.
Club career statistics[change | change source]
|1959/60||Real Madrid||La Liga||19||6|
International career statistics[change | change source]
|Brazil national team|
References[change | change source]
- "Jornal dos Sports". Biblioteca Nacional Digital (in Portuguese).
- "الشباب يلغي معسكره فالشرقية".
- Strack-Zimmermann, Benjamin. "Didi". www.national-football-teams.com.
- "Waldir Pereira "Didi" - International Appearances and Goals". www.rsssf.com.