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Andy Golding On February - 12 - 2010

Player Profile: Diego Ribas Da Cunha

Diego Ribas da Cunha, commonly known as Diego started his footballing career at Santos’ youth system, making his first team debut in the Rio-Sao Paulo championships in 2002 at just sixteen. In the same year Diego aided Santos which also comprised of former Manchester City midfielder Elano, Alex and Robinho to win the domestic league championship. Diego was to later state his desire to move to Juventus in the near future “Playing for Juventus would be a great honour as they are a big club and the shirt reminds me a lot like the Santos kit.”

In 2004 after sixty-three appearances and twenty-one goals, Diego earned his move to Europe at Porto, replacing the Barcelona bound Deco, however struggled to adapt to the 4-4-2 system that was implemented under coach Co Adriaanse. Having only made fourty-four appearances and seven goals Diego was given another chance, despite interest from Juventus at the time their relegation to Serie B in 2006 paved way for his move to Werder Bremen.

In May 2006 Werder Bremen snapped Diego up for a mere €6 million, debuted in the German league cup by beating Bayern Munich in the final.
The 2006-07 season started brightly for Diego, scoring and assisting three of the goals in a 4-2 victory over Hannover 96, whilst assisting a further two goals defeating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1.

Diego was to continue his impressive form, which would lead to the August player of the month award, as well as one in October and again in December, thus proving to be an indispensible asset to the club. Diego’s talents clearly showed through the club’s progression in Europe, despite moving to the UEFA Cup following Werder Bremen’s exit in the Champions League, the team reached the Semi-finals largely thanks to the brilliance of Diego.

His consistency showed no signs of slowing down and on April 20th Diego was to score what was elected goal of the year with a stoppage time 62.5 metres shot against Alemannia Aachen, winning the game 3-1 and topping the table.
His consistency didn’t go unnoticed, and was recalled to the Brazilian national side, and later won Bundesliga Player of the season with over 50% of the votes.

Diego picked up from where he left off in the 2007-08 season, guiding Werder Bremen through the Champions League, with an outstanding performance against Bernd Schuster’s Real Madrid despite losing 2-1. Diego was to continue his fine form assisting three and scoring one in an 8-1 victory against Arminia Bielefeld, later went on to pick up September’s Player of the Month award.

The 2008-09 was to be Diego’s last season at Werder Bremen, remembered for guiding them through to the UEFA Cup final, scoring against AC Milan and four goals past Udinese in the quarter finals over the two legs. Diego was to again play a vital role in the Semi finals against Hamburg, assisting Frank Baumann’s goal which ensured Bremen’s safe passage to the final, however Diego was not to participate due to an unfortunate yellow card which was to leave him suspended for the final. Subsequently Werder Bremen lost the final 2-1 in extra time to Ukrainian side, Shakhtar Donestsk. Diego finished the season with twenty goals in total, despite Werder Bremen finishing 10th in the Bundesliga.

In May 2009 Diego was to finally realise his childhood dream of moving to Juventus moving for a fee worth €24.5 million, despite strong interests from Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Juventus had been negotiating his move for nearly three years, a motion that was first put forward by the club’s previous General Manager, Luciano Moggi. Diego impressed in the pre season period, scoring against Seongnam of Korea in the Peace Cup tournament, then later scoring against AC Milan in the Berlusconi Cup.

Diego’s Serie A career started brightly, assisting Vicenzo Iaquinta from a set piece against Chievo, whilst in the second fixture against AS Roma Diego recorded his first Serie A goal, dispossessing Marco Cassetti near the centre spot, running half the length of the pitch whilst out muscling John Arne Riise to poke it past fellow countryman Julio Sergio, later adding a second goal, dazing Philippe Mexes to rifle it into the bottom corner. Juventus went on to win 3-1.

Since then Diego has made his presence felt despite the club’s recent slump in form, though faced with many critics it should be highlighted that he is currently provides the most assists for the team. There is no doubt that Diego will be a huge Serie A star in the near future if he isn’t so already, baring in mind that Pavel Nedved, Zinedine Zidane and even Michel Platini had worse debut seasons for the club, Diego Ribas Da Cunha is sure to be Juventus’ next number 10.

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