Noel Draper doffs his cap to a brilliant but batshit-crazy Brazilian, the glorious ‘King Dadá’.
Can you name a great Brazilian forward without saying the words Ronaldo, Pele or Romario? Oh, or Jairzinho? I bet the name you don’t come up with is Dario Jose dos Santos or Dario for short. I was right, wasn’t I? Go me.
Dario played for some of Brazil’s greatest clubs in the 60’s and 70’s in a career that lasted over 18 years and was famed for his great positioning and finishing which more than made up for his lack of pace. He even made the 1970 World Cup squad due to the Brazilian president asking the then coach to include him but spent most of the tournament on the bench. His ability to seemingly hang in the air led to a nickname being given to him, Dadá Beija-Flor which translates as Dadá the Hummingbird.
This is all well and good but the bio I have just typed would, with a few tweaks, nearly fit anyone of a hundred Brazilian footballers past and present. So what made Dario special? Why am I telling you about him?
He made loads of nicknames up for himself including Rei Dadá which means King Dadá and the best of all, Dadá Maravilha or Wonder Dadá. Dario became known as the king of self promotion and also became famous among journalists because of his insistence to do interviews in the third person and to make up some quiet frankly bizarre quotes. “I can’t give the bread, so I give the circus” was one. Another was “I believe in God but I trust in Dadá”.
He once said that he was so focused on scoring goals that he forgot to learn how to play football
He would also name goals he was going to score in his pre match chat with reporters. That’s naming goals he hadn’t scored yet. Giving goals names is mad enough but naming ones you haven’t scored yet is the work of a genius.
The majority of his quotes though were to try and deflect from his apparent lack of football skills onto his goal scoring ability. He once said that he was so focused on scoring goals that he forgot to learn how to play football and “I do not play football, I score goals”. If only Andy Carroll had the same ethos.
Even at the end of his career, Dadá kept up his fruit loop existence by claiming to have seen a UFO in 1981 which then took the blame for his financial problems and a collapsed marriage. Dario countered this by saying that his sex drive had increased due to his alien encounter, so that’s ok then.
Let’s save the best until last though because Dario is loved for one thing and one thing only…he used to masturbate in the dressing room before games because “it left him as light as the wind” and also “boosted his performance”. There is really no answer to that, is there?