Foreign imports have long been an essential part of the very fabric of the Spanish game and over the decades we’ve seen that certain clubs can show a tendency towards identifying with certain nationalities of player.
Dutch football has long been inextricably entwined in the DNA of Barcelona since the day Johan Cruyff first strutted onto the pitch of the Camp Nou, while Atlético Madrid teams have traditionally fared well when there’s been a strong Argentinian flavour to their team – or indeed their bench.
For much of the 1990s and 2000s the Galician club Deportivo La Coruña was a force in Spanish football and, while foreigners of many nationalities came and went in these years, those fine teams will always be associated with the Brazilians who were instrumental in the progress the club made. Here we take a look back at the most important ones.
Augusto César Lendoiro took over as President in 1988 and the flow of Brazilians signing on at the Riazor started in earnest three seasons later when Deportivo gained promotion back to La Liga and started their ascent towards the summit of the Spanish game.
The first Deportivo Brazilian was the notorious Dinho, a midfield enforcer who went on to have a successful career back home despite his footballing limitations and his propensity for extreme violence. He departed after a single, quarrelsome season and was replaced by the two most seminal figures behind the rise of this provincial club.
The best Deportivo Brazilian, Mauro Silva, arrived from Bragantino for a bargain $1.6m and the World Cup-winning defensive midfielder would be the heart and lungs of the team for the next 12 seasons. At the other end of the pitch the highest-scoring Deportivo Brazilian, Bebeto, brought glamour, skill and goals – lots of them – following his move from Vasco da Gama. He finished top of the scoring charts in his debut season and stayed a further three at the club before returning home.
The most lucrative Deportivo Brazilians were Rivaldo and Flávio Conceição who cost around $5m each and were sold on for for five or six times that amount. Rivaldo spent a single season with Deportivo scoring 21 goals in 41 games, a record that was good enough to convince Barcelona to sign him as a replacement for Ronaldo. Flávio Conceição was yet another deep-lying midfielder who formed a fine partnership with Mauro Silva in the 2000 title-winning team and was sold just after to Real Madrid.
The most skilful Deportivo Brazilian was Djalminha; the creative wide player or forward was signed in 1997 to replace Rivaldo and initially dazzled with his amazing technical qualities, though over time his inconsistency, poor professionalism and violent temper turned him into more of a liability than an asset.
The most disappointing Deportivo Brazilians were Luizāo and César Sampaio. As with the majority of Deportivo’s acquisitions, both were signed from Palmeiras and both failed to settle in their new environment. The pair managed just 23 games between them before returning home and rediscovering their form with Vasco da Gama and Corinthians respectively.
The most contemporary Deportivo Brazilian is Filipe Luís, currently one of the best left backs in the world. Deportivo took the defender on loan as a youngster from Real Madrid Castilla and then signed him permanently. In total he spent four seasons in La Coruña before moving on to fame and fortune with Atlético Madrid.