How Diego nearly ditched his Juventus career

Diego Ribas da Cunha, or simply Diego. Today, this football player born in 1985 is well remembered, perhaps, only in Brazil, where the midfielder has been playing since the summer of 2016 with Flamengo. And once this playmaker was considered one of the main talents of his generation, and he started in the club where Pele himself played.

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In the summer of 2004, Diego, who was only 19 at the time, moved from Santos to Porto for 7 million euros. Almost immediately after that, the midfielder received Italian citizenship, as he had ancestors from this country, who at one time emigrated overseas. Surprisingly, in the camp of “dragons” Diego did not manage to reveal his full potential, although usually in Portugal smart Brazilians quickly achieve success.

However, Diego decided he wanted to pursue a career at Juventus. Perhaps the already mentioned Italian roots contributed to this. The deal cost the Turin people 27 million euros, and the photo of Diego with the 28th playing number and a Juventus shirt in his hands became one of the most circulated in the media that summer in Italy. In the pre-season preparation, the Brazilian showed himself quite modestly, which is true, the experts reassured, they say, the midfielder needs to delve into the team’s game, because Serie A is a much more tactically difficult league than the German championship.

Diego made his Serie A debut on 23 August 2009 in Juventus’ home match against Chievo sports. The game ended with a minimal victory for the “old lady” (1: 0), and the only goal was scored by Vincenzo Iaquinta, and it was from Diego’s pass. That Juventus has not yet managed to become a hegemon in Italy, and not so long ago returned from Serie B, where he was exiled as punishment for participating in match fixing. In particular, in the 2008/09 season, Turin finished third, and in the new championship, under the leadership of Ciro Ferrara, they intended to finally give a fight to the roaming Inter and Milan. The arrival of Diego instilled serious optimism in the fans of the “old lady”, and his successful debut and first effective action only confirmed the validity of the high expectations from the newcomer.

August 30, 2009 will forever remain a day of great illusion for Juventus fans. On this day, Ferrara’s team on the road dashingly coped with Roma (3: 1), and Diego scored two goals at once. The very next morning, the famous Turin newspaper Tuttosport came out with a photo of Diego on the editorial and the caption – “MaraDiego”, in which the names of Diego Maradona and his Brazilian, so to speak, namesake were played up. After that triumph, journalists hastened to call Juventus the main opponent for Inter in the fight for the championship, and Diego – potentially the best player of the season in Serie A.

But quite quickly the situation changed to the opposite. Before Juventus, it was as if the lights were turned off: the results of the Ferrara team worsened, and Diego found himself in an extremely difficult situation, since he got a lot of criticism. It seems that the defenders of the opposing teams quickly learned to unravel the ideas of the Brazilian, and he lost his former faith in himself, which he demonstrated at the start of the season.


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