With anni 80, outskirts of Bassano del Grappa. Kids swarm dressed as soccer players, joke, laugh; await training. A little farther on, solitary, a middle-aged man – black skin, long legs, veiled plumpness in the belly – strolls on the lawn of the slightly bald football field. He is holding a wooden box. He folds up, picks up a pebble, gets up, puts it back in the box. And so on. Certainly not a madman: We must remove the stones from the field; boys can get hurt. Besides, you can’t control the ball like this … he says with exotic inflection. Then he brings the whistle to his mouth. And the session can begin.
Lui Dejalma dos Santos and, in the world of football already a legend for decades. Known as Djalma Santos (1929-2013) from Sao Paulo of Brazil. Two world titles won as an absolute protagonist of one of the strongest teams of all time (Brazil of 1958 and that of 1962), but not only: as right-back now an absolute reference for contemporaries and future interpreters of the role. Fast and technical. Deadly Crosser; correct defender; pearl among the pearls of a green-gold national team that – Didi, Vav, Zagalo, Garrincha, Zito, captain Bellini … – perhaps the strongest of every era. Amazing condensation of champions, where (in Sweden, at the World Cup) a thin boy emerged: Edson Arantes do Nascimiento, Pel.
Djalma, on that Bassano meadow, has long had him too. And much more: over 1,000 appearances as pro in club teams (434 with 11 goals in Portuguesa; 498 with 10 goals in Palmeiras; 32 and 2 goals in Athletico Paranaense); 98 caps in the national team (3 goals). With an almost namesake friend-colleague – Nilton Santos – he essentially innovated football and its role. The two play on the flanks of the verdoro national team (Djalma on the right; Nilton on the left) but, instead of thinking only about the defensive phase, they run with a higher pace; they stretch, dribble, climb over and offer assists. They are the first attacking full-backs in the history of the kick. Ess: on the right or on the left, the various Facchetti, Cabrini, the first Paolo Maldini, Kaltz, Roberto Carlos, Caf and many others – in the following decades – owe them a lot. Unknowingly? It does not matter. Skilled in marking and aerial tackling thanks to a responsive body, Djalma had been nicknamed muralha by Edoardo Galeano. Over the years, then, his reputation had been engraved: a loyal, generous and disciplined player. A fact above all: never expelled. Playing as a defender in South America.
Thing of the past? Over the age of 55, Djalma only knows that he stopped playing pro in 1970, loaded with glory, drained of money, of the not many he has earned in a thrilling career. The world of football in its heyday was that: you could have been a god of football, but if you were not more than acute, you would accumulate little money. And back to Bassano del Grappa, a few months earlier … Agonistic year (Italian) 1985-86. Away from the big stages, in the Interregional championship (then fifth series) there is a proud Bassano who, in group C, fights to go to C2 with Campedelli-father’s Chievo Verona. coached by the former Brazilian mezzala from Modena, Catania, Juve and Vicenza: Sidney Colnia Cunha, noto ea Chinesinho (1935-2011) because of vaguely almond-shaped eyes. The ambitious owner of the club, Renato Sonda, would like to create a model club for the youth sector too: We have many kids who want to learn to play football – he complains to Chinesinho – and no one can teach them to make a straight pass. The Brazilian looks at him and says: We could call Djalma. Djalma Santos ?. Yes, him. If I ask him, he is sure. And the former champion will really come.
But not only that: he will stay for three years. Every day Djalma Santos – like the most willing of the after-workers – will go to the field of Bassano del Grappa. From 1985 to 1987 he trained local children, also opening a football school with his colleague. First stake: no pressure on the little ones; no exasperation. Real football, in short: to learn while having fun. And have fun. In various interviews, his baby-pupil of those years will tell: Massimiliano Sambugaro (born in 1972 then hundreds of appearances and goals as a striker between fourth and fifth series). … His Brazil played with Ginga (basic Capoeira movement adapted to football, to make the ball circulate without letting it touch the ground, ed). At the time, I saw him do things that Ronaldinho later did. She taught me how to hit from the heel at a time when coaches would kick you out if you hit her like that. But he taught a thousand ways of hitting with the heel, not just one way. A manager from Bassano, after training, took us around the Vicenza fields. We gave demonstrations. Djalma explained, I performed … He was an exquisite person, of a rare humility.
Among his students, many children who would then play, at various levels, even among professionals. One even up to the national team: Carlo Nervo. Djalma, meanwhile, had integrated himself with the Bassano microcosm and with the club: he attended the training sessions of the first team, followed them away, remained silent. His but could have influenced weeks of work: but he remained silent; he let the friend-colleague do it. Then he would go back to his kids, teaching crazy heel strokes. A good gentleman, with a still responsive physique. So much so that in his spare time, to have fun, he went down to Vicenza and – always together with Chinesinho – accepted to play in summer bar tournaments. Around the province. To dodge kicks and dispense a good game; and fun.
After that three years, the return to Brazil to live a dignified life as a football hero. In the gratitude of his compatriots and of the whole world of the kick. O ‘external side he took leave of earthly life at the age of 84, in July 2013, due to pneumonia. His teachings will remain. As a footballer; for men. And that memory of Bassano del Grappa. Football stories, hidden in the folds of our Hundred Cities.
Put away the box with the collected stones, the training has begun: a little boy kicks the ball badly and justifies his fault: old and worn …. That Brazilian gentleman with a good look It is never the fault of the ball – he tells him – but always of the shooter. Remember: there is no ball that is not beautiful.
February 9, 2021 (change February 9, 2021 | 16:43)
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