Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | Brazil

Mirandinha © Reuters Images

Mirandinha comes full circle

Not too many Brazilians speak English with as passable a Newcastle accent as Mirandinha, the first Brazilian to play in the English top flight.

Nowadays more than two thirds of the players in the Premier League are foreigners, with South Americans commonplace at many of the leading clubs.

But when the 26-year-old striker arrived in England in 1987, the only South Americans to have made an impact there were the Argentine pair of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa who enjoyed success with Tottenham Hotspur a decade before Mirandinha rolled into the Geordie heartland.

Mirandinha, now 53 and heavily involved in the seaside city of Fortaleza's World Cup preparations, is still proud to have been a trailblazer for players of the five-time world champion nation.

"It was an unknown journey for Brazilians then and for me too," he told Reuters during a tour of the 65 000-seater Arena Castelao, the first of Brazil's 12 World Cup stadiums to be completed.

"I had a fantastic time at Newcastle and still follow them very closely.

"What I now want from the World Cup more than anything, besides Brazil winning it of course, is for Brazil to play England here in Fortaleza.

"This is my home town, this is where I was born and where my whole journey started. I played here, in the old stadium before it was knocked down when I was 16. It has changed quite a bit since then."

As he stands in the scorching sun, workmen swarm around Mirandinha with the detonations of drills and jack-hammers, and the rumble of forklift trucks, filling the air.

But he insists everything that needs to be ready for Sunday's formal opening by President Dilma Rousseff will be ready.

Mirandinha had spells at Palmeiras, Botafogo, Nautico and Portuguesa before arriving at Newcastle where he stayed for two years, scoring 19 goals in 54 games in the old First Division.

Out of the sun, and in the new stadium's museum, he points to old English newspaper cuttings displayed in a cabinet highlighting his career. He laughs at one headline "This One's For You, Boss," with his beaming photo alongside it.

"That was my first goal for Newcastle, I had not scored for a few games. I said to the manager Willie McFaul afterwards, "this one's for you boss," and after that, it was fine.

"I had a fantastic time at Newcastle, it was my best football experience - and I played in Brazil, Portugal, Japan - but the Newcastle fans are passionate, they are like Brazilians.

"They love their football like we do here, it is a very special place and I loved it there."


He was also hugely impressed with one talented youngster and was keen to learn how that young man was doing today.

"Paul Gascoigne was the outstanding player there. I loved him so much, but he was so crazy," he laughed.

"He was brilliant on the field, mad off it, and of course we became close and he taught me every English swear word I know. But how is he now? I know he has had problems and I wish him well."

Mirandinha's journey has, in a sense, come full circle.

He left Fortaleza to discover the world - and now the world is coming to discover Fortaleza, which is hosting matches in next year's Confederations Cup as well as the World Cup in 2014.

"It is wonderful for my city which, we must admit, is not all that well known internationally. But the name will go around the world over the next year or so.

"The state government, the workers, the politicians - everyone has done a marvellous job in getting this stadium ready on schedule and on budget.

"The stadium will act as a catalyst for the city's development too. It is a world-class stadium, and it will change how this city thinks of itself.

"I was lucky to play in some great stadiums around the world, and that includes St James' Park, and although I won't play here, my hope is that Brazil play England here in the World Cup.

"Of course I want Brazil to win and now with (Luis Felipe) Scolari back in charge and with (Carlos Alberto) Parreira helping him, I think we have a very good chance. But there is always pressure on Brazil, and more with a World Cup at home."

Even more pressure than playing at St James' Park?

"Definitely yes, but the Geordie fans will appreciate that, because after the Brazilians, they are the best fans in the world."


Gerrard: My Autobiography
Steven Gerrard is a hero to millions, not only as the inspirational captain of Liverpool FC, but as a key member of the England team.
Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.
Mitre Monde Soccer Ball - White
Voted as one of the UK's favourite match balls


More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Other Live Streaming

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Sports Talk

Neil Tovey
Bafana train on track but…
Qualifying for their first major tournament since 2008 is a tremendous feat for Bafana Bafana.

John Dykes
Hero worship from Bollywood to Bayern
A truly hectic travel schedule provided a timely reminder of the way football lights up people’s...

Dr Errol Sweeney
Refereeing cowardice or good player management?
Was this good refereeing or refereeing cowardice? The incident highlighted in the picture again...

Chima Emmanuel Aguma
Is this the turning point for Man United?
Before the season started, if anyone told Manchester United’s new boss Louis Van Gaal that at...

Carol Radull
No mystery why Arsenal can't beat United
I am a little delusional. When it comes to Arsenal, I always am. To say that I am a frustrated...

Sunday Oliseh
The Super Eagles' only way out
For some people in Nigeria, football is no longer a sport, but rather it is all about money,...