This World Cup, «Dida», 33-years-old, will be out to prove that Brazil can also produce great goalkeepers, besides fantastic attacking players. Having earned a regular spot in the national team following great performances with Italian giants, AC Milan, Dida has since established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
A substitute in the last World Cup, Dida is reputed for saving penalties after his blazing performance during a shoot-out in the 2003 Champions League final between Juventus and AC Milan.
Dida’s penalty-stopping mastery and his blend of uncanny agility helped Milan lift their sixth European Cup. Even the Juventus players could not hold back their praises and after the game, many having described Dida as a specialist at penalties and one who could rise to the occasion during dead-ball situations.
Born in Irara on 7 October 1973, Dida has achieved something few other Brazilian goalkeepers ever managed, and that is to be the unanimous first choice for his country. Voted the world’s third best goalkeeper in 2004, behind Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon and
Czech Republic’s Petr Cech, Dida said he has undergone plenty of physical and mental training to effectively be the last man standing in the Brazilian line-up.
However, on April 12, 2005, during a UEFA Champions League game against bitter local rivals Inter Milan, Dida was hit and injured by a flare thrown from the crowd and subsequently received treatment for minor injuries. Fans believed that the event shook Dida and he suffered some kind of mental stress each time he took to the pitch. Some say that he had to undergo a series of mental training before he was able to regain his form.
«Everything I have achieved in the game has been the fruit of my efforts. When things go against me, I find a way to overcome the disappointment through hard work and self-belief,» Dida was quoted as saying.
While the physical scars from the flare healed quick, the mental scars remained and Dida faced an uphill battle to regain his mental form.
Fortunately, the unfortunate incident is now behind him and Dida has since regained both his mental and physical form and looks set to assist the star-studded Brazilian team to World Cup glory. Brazil is the only team to qualify for every World Cup since the championship started in 1930 and has won the tournament a record five times, including the last in 2002.
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