Caçapa: Newcastle’s Nightmare Brazilian Car Crash

Harry Burford

The summer of 2007 was one defined by great discouragement and blunder on the transfer front for Newcastle United. Although both Joey Barton and Jose Enrique would admittedly represent rather decent acquisitions for Sam Allardyce’s Magpies that season, the following ensemble of horrendously untested long-shots and criminally overpaid has-beens would prove disastrous for Newcastle further on down the line.

From the largely forgettable David Rozehnal and the equally underwhelming Habib Beye, to the increasingly immobile Geremi Njitap and Manchester United’s injury stricken Alan Smith – the Magpies didn’t exactly help themselves when it came to signing such players for the upcoming 2007/08 campaign under Big Sam.

But this is where the bad decisions surrounding Newcastle United’s questionable transfer policy seemingly failed to reach a desirable end, for in Claudio Roberto da Silva – a little known Brazilian import more commonly associated with the name ‘Caçapa’, the money-men behind the scenes at St. James’ Park clearly failed to shine their club in much of a positive light.

Despite arriving in the Premier League with a relatively well-respected reputation from the French top-flight, and also representing the proud nation of Brazil several times before eventually moving to Tyneside – the name ‘Caçapa’ is sadly greeted with jeers and sighs of disappointment whenever it is mentioned among the Magpies faithful.

Although he wasn’t the worst player to ever wear the famous black & white colours of Newcastle United, his was a fate that would have best been forgotten…

Yet as is often the case with the growing list of horrendously ill-fated signings within the English top-flight, much was arguably expected of Caçapa before he had even kicked a ball in the Premier League. The incoming South American had already received a selection of illustrious call-ups to the Brazilian national side after all, which subsequently raised the collective expectations of the often dubious St. James’ fan-base.

Caçapa represented a physically proficient centre-back who had previously impressed whilst captaining Olympique Lyonnais to numerous title-winning campaigns among the French Ligue 1. On the back of his brute strength and distinct no-nonsense demeanour, the widely experienced defender seemingly portrayed himself as the dream ‘Big Sam’ acquisition.

The former Ligue 1 favourite eventually became the 1,000th senior player to represent the Magpies within a competitive fixture. Although the Newcastle United hierarchy were likely aware of the defender’s obvious technical limitations, Caçapa’s reported ability to keep things nice and tight at the back was supposed to aid Newcastle’s traditionally leaky defence in the run up to yet another important domestic season.

It seemed fate ultimately had other ideas in mind for the well-versed Brazilian, however. Whilst Caçapa struggled to implement his previous form due to several frustrating injuries and a string of further setbacks out on the side-lines, the St. James’ faithful couldn’t quite believe what their club had just sourced after one or two disastrous performances from the hesitant South American.

The former Olympique Lyonnais man turned out to be incredibly slow with the ball at his feet. He lacked mobility all across the park and seemed remarkably cumbersome for someone with so many bouts of top-flight experience residing beneath his name. Although Caçapa indeed represented a rather strong defender, the Brazilian’s alarming lack of pace and painfully ponderous nature ultimately made his position on Tyneside somewhat untenable.

The struggling centre-back’s apparent inability to defend subsequently came to light in a 1-4 home defeat to Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth back in 2007. After being at fault for several of the goals and failing to assert his so-called physical dominance in spectacular fashion on Tyneside, Caçapa’s reputation as an earnest top-flight defensive stalwart was shattered beyond all standard recognition.

In the end – the often testing nature of the English game simply proved too much for the experienced South American to handle, regardless of those illustrious call-ups to the Brazilian national team several seasons prior.

Today, the Tyneside faithful have thankfully moved on from the underperforming Brazilian, thanks in part to the further succession of equally hazardous centre-backs who also failed to make the grade at St. James’ in rather an unfortunate style.

From the scarily carefree Jean-Alain Boumsong and the strikingly ineffective defensive capture of Lamine Diatta, to an ageing Sol Campbell and the now notorious blunder-fiend that was Titus Bramble – Newcastle United have had more than their fair share of calamitous centre-backs to keep them occupied over the years.

Caçapa, therefore, finds himself in good company, yet as the defender was nonetheless acquired as a 31-year-old free agent with little significant interest circling from fellow top-flight outfits, perhaps the signing of this ill-fated Brazilian ultimately says more about Newcastle United’s prior transfer policy than it does about the player himself.

Perhaps the impending threat of relegation was always on the cards for the determined Magpies, as long as they continued to deploy the haphazard and increasingly disorganised services of players such as Caçapa at their club.

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