Nelson de Jesus Silva
|Full Name:||Nelson de Jesus Silva|
|Date of Birth:||7-Oct-1973|
|Place of Birth:||Irara, Bahia, Brazil|
|Height:||6 ft 5 in(1.96 m)|
|Current Club:||A C Milan|
|1992-1993:||Cruzeiro de Arapiraca|
|1992-1993:||Vitoria Bahia||024 (0)|
|2000-:||A C Milan||172 (0)|
Nélson de Jesus Silva (born October 7, 1973 in Irará, Bahia), best known as Dida, is a Brazilian goalkeeper. He currently plays for Italian Serie A club A.C. Milan, with whom he is a two-time winner of the UEFA Champions League.
Early club career Though he was born in Bahia, Dida was raised in the smaller northern state of Alagoas. His footballing role models included Brazil goalkeeper Valdir Peres and Russian netminder Rinat Dasaev, whom he watched on television during the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Dida had always aspired to become the starting goalie for his country since childhood, which is an anomaly in itself considering that Brazilian keepers traditionally began as, or preferred to be, goalscorers. His club career began in 1990, at the age of 16, with Alagoas team Cruzeiro de Arapiraca (not to be confused with Cruzeiro EC). Two seasons later, he returned to his home state upon being signed by Bahia club Vitória, who would win the 1992 state championship. In 1993, Dida made 24 first-team appearances for Vitória after winning the Under-21 FIFA World Youth Championship as Brazil's first-choice.
Dida was acquired by Cruzeiro in 1994, where, in a span of five seasons, he won three Minas Gerais state titles, the 1996 Copa do Brasil, and the 1997 Copa Libertadores, along with a pair of Placar Bola de Prata awards as the top goalkeeper in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. But with this success soon came a burning desire to ply his trade in Europe, and in January 1999, he announced that he would be leaving Cruzeiro to sign with Italian powerhouse A.C. Milan.
Dida's request to opt out of the remainder of his contract with Cruzeiro in order to go to Europe drew the Raposa management's anger, and thus kicked off an ugly dispute that lasted for five months, during which he suited up for Switzerland club FC Lugano just to keep in game shape. But when the issue was finally resolved and Dida formally joined Milan, playing time was hard to come by as incumbent Christian Abbiati already had a firm grip on the #1 jersey. Not only that, veteran Sebastiano Rossi was not to be counted out, so Dida was third on coach Alberto Zaccheroni's depth chart.
Milan loaned Dida to São Paulo club Corinthians in order to get him some regular first-team action. It was during this time that his renowned penalty-saving skills came to the fore. His saving of two spot-kicks in Corinthians' 3-2 victory over intrastate rivals São Paulo FC - with both penalties taken by Raí - in the semifinal of the 1999 Campeonato Brasileiro created the headline "Dida is God" from sports publication Lance!. In the inaugural FIFA World Club Championship (today the FIFA Club World Cup) in 2000, Dida saved a Nicolas Anelka penalty in a 2-2 draw with Real Madrid, and in the final against Vasco da Gama, Corinthians won the title in a 4-3 penalty shoot-out after Edmundo's shot went wide.
Milan recalled Dida for the 2000-01 season. He leapfrogged past Rossi into the starting lineup, since Abbiati was away with Italy competing at the Sydney Olympics. A 4-1 group stage win over Beşiktaş J.K. on September 13, 2000 marked his official debut for the club, but on September 19, in the 89th minute against Leeds United at a rain-soaked Elland Road, he accidentally dropped the ball into his own goal after catching a Lee Bowyer shot, causing Milan to lose the match 1-0. It was an error of embarrassing proportions and despite a strong performance in a 2-0 Milan victory over FC Barcelona one week later, he was promptly benched following Abbiati's return. He made his first and only Serie A start that season as well, a 2-0 November loss to Parma F.C. in which Patrick Mboma scored both goals. To make matters worse, one month after the Leeds debacle, he was among nearly a dozen Serie A players, among them Inter's Álvaro Recoba and Lazio's Juan Sebastián Verón, who were charged with using fraudulent European passports. Dida confessed to falsifying papers in order to obtain a Portuguese passport, in an attempt to dodge the Italian league's limit on non-EU players so he could sign with Milan. FIGC slapped Milan with a £314,000 fine, and banned Dida from the league for one year, in addition to a FIFA-imposed year-long suspension from national team play. In April 2003, following a court appearance in Milano, he was handed a seven-month suspended prison sentence.
2002-03: Return to Milan
Dida was loaned back to Corinthians for the 2001-02 campaign following the passport flap, then recalled again to Milan the next season, which he began on the bench until Abbiati limped off with a hip injury at halftime of a Champions League qualifying stage match against FC Slovan Liberec on August 14, 2002. Dida took his place for the second half and turned in a solid performance that would result in a new first-choice keeper for Milan. His European career had suddenly taken off and it would soon lead to him writing his name into Milan history after the 2003 Champions League final at Old Trafford against league rivals Juventus. He made three saves against David Trézéguet, Marcelo Zalayeta and Paolo Montero in the penalty shoot-out, helped the Rossoneri win their sixth CL title. The praise also poured in from his home country; he was labelled "Saint Dida" by the Brazilian press, and Folha de São Paulo chipped in with the headline "Dida pushes Milan to the top of Europe."
Dida was named the 2003-04 Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year as he conceded only 20 goals in 32 appearances, thus becoming the first and only non-Italian goalkeeper to win the award. Despite being hit and felled twice by foreign objects hurled from the crowd by opposing fans, he kept a clean sheet as Milan clinched their 17th Scudetto in club history with a 1-0 win over AS Roma on May 3, 2004.
2004-05: A Night of shame Dida continued his solid form through the first half of the 2004-05 campaign, posting Champions League clean sheets against the likes of Celtic FC and Manchester United, but he would ultimately be remembered that season for the infamy of the second leg of the CL quarterfinal derby between bitter crosstown rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan on April 12, 2005.
With Milan leading 1-0 (and 3-0 on aggregate) thanks to an early Andriy Shevchenko goal, Inter's hardcore supporters became infuriated after a second-half Esteban Cambiasso goal was controversially nullified by referee Markus Merk - who, moments later, booked Cambiasso for dissent - due to the fact that he had just whistled Inter forward Julio Cruz for a foul on Dida in the six-yard box as players were jockeying for position inside the penalty area following an Inter corner kick. Bottles and various debris were subsequently thrown onto the pitch, but the projectiles soon escalated to lit flares. As Dida attempted to clear bottles in order to take a goal kick, a flare hurtled down from the upper deck and struck the keeper on the back of his right shoulder. Merk halted the match in the 74th minute. After a thirty-minute delay in which firefighters were called in to remove the burning flares from the pitch, the match was restarted. Dida, however, was unable to continue, and was substituted by Abbiati. Less than a minute later, though, Merk finally abandoned the match after more flares and debris rained down. The match was awarded as a 3-0 victory, totaling a 5-0 aggregate, to Milan.
Dida suffered bruising and first-degree burns to his shoulder, but did not miss any game time, as he was back between the posts for Milan's Serie A match on April 17 against A.C. Siena. Meanwhile, Inter were fined just over €200,000 - the largest fine ever imposed by UEFA - and were ordered to play their first four 2005-06 Champions League home matches behind closed doors as punishment.
Despite his claims that the incident had not affected him, his form began to decline thereafter. He struggled in the semifinals against PSV Eindhoven and in the infamous loss in the final to Liverpool F.C. in Istanbul, in which Milan blew a 3-0 halftime lead in a span of six minutes late in the second half and the match ended 3-3 after extra time. Dida was only able to save John Arne Riise's penalty as Liverpool triumphed 3-2 in the ensuing shoot-out. Lost in the disappointment was the fact that he had set a CL record for consecutive clean sheets with seven clean sheets, which was surpassed by Arsenal's Jens Lehmann the next season. On April 12, 2006, the first anniversary of the flare incident, PTI replayed the clip of Dida being hit as the program went to a commercial break.
Dida's rough patch continued as he slogged through a mistake-riddled 2005-06 season, leading to speculation that he was in danger of being dropped from the starting lineup, while Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira publicly declared that his starting position for the upcoming World Cup was not secure. However, he missed only two Serie A matches not to benching, but to a midseason ankle injury. Though Milan's drive to return to the Champions League final fell short after a 1-0 semifinal aggregate loss to Barcelona, that series began a revival of his form with stops against Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Henrik Larsson over the course of both legs.
2006-07: Return to success Dida got off to a strong start in 2006-07; following a strike by Lazio's Stephen Makinwa in Milan's 2-1 season-opener victory on September 10, 2006, he did not allow a Serie A goal for the next 446 minutes of play, and he conceded only two goals in five of Milan's six Champions League group stage matches. He made his 200th appearance for Milan in a 1-0 defeat of Ascoli on September 20, 2006, and on January 28, 2007, he played his 150th career Serie A match in a 1-0 win over Parma. Dida also signed a three-year contract extension with Milan on March 10, 2007, and said afterwards in a Milan Channel interview, "It took six months to reach this agreement and now it's finally done. I'm extremely happy."
However, '06-07 was also the first injury-plagued season of Dida's long career. He wound up missing 11 Serie A matches due to knee and shoulder problems; he had missed 10 Serie A games in the previous three seasons combined. As a result, his play had consequently suffered again by the start of 2007: he notably came under heavy criticism after Milan's 3-2 CL quarterfinal first-leg loss to Manchester United on April 23, but then played a role in Milan's decisive 3-0 second-leg victory on May 3, which sent the Rossoneri back into the Champions League final on a 5-3 aggregate. His form subsequently rebounded again and it continued into the long-awaited rematch with Liverpool in Athens on May 23. That night, Dida exorcised his Istanbul ghosts with three saves from Jermaine Pennant, Steven Gerrard, and Peter Crouch, which complemented Filippo Inzaghi's scoring touch as Milan won 2-1 and raised its seventh Champions League trophy.