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Waldyr Pereira (October 8, 1929 – May 12, 2001), nicknamed Didi, was a Brazilianmarker football midfield player who played in three World Cups: 1954, 1958, and 1962, winning the latter two. He is considered to be one of the greatest midfielders ever. He had incredibly accurate passing, great stamina and strength and he scored many goals.

Born in Rio de Janeiromarker, he nearly had his right leg amputated when he was 14 due to a severe infection. He recovered and played for some clubs in Campos dos Goytacazesmarker. He became professional playing for Americano de Campos. He came to prominence when he joined Fluminense in 1949. During seven seasons with the club he won the Campeonato carioca in 1951 and Copa de Rio in 1952. He became famous for being an intelligent player and for his "folha seca" ("falling leaf") kicks, where the ball would swerve seemingly downwards at the right time resulting in a goal.

During the 1954 World Cup he scored goals against Mexico and Yugoslavia, before Brazil's defeat to the favorites Hungary. This match was infamously known as the Battle of Berne; Didi was involved with the brawl that followed this bad-tempered match.

At club level, he moved to Botafogo, winning the Campeonato Carioca (Rio state championship) in 1957. Didi had previously promised to walk from the Maracanãmarker to Botafogo's clubhouse in his kit if Botafogo won the championship; 5,000 Botafogo fans joined him as he did so.

His greatest achievement came at the 1958 World Cup where he was player of the tournament. From midfield, he masterminded the first of his two World Cup successes for Brazil. In 68 international matches he scored 20 goals, including a dozen using his trademark free-kicks.

In 1959 he was signed by Real Madrid of Spainmarker. Despite his great reputation after the 1958 World Cup he played only 19 matches (6 goals) for the Spaniards and often clashed with the team leader Alfredo Di Stéfano, who felt offended by the divide in the fan’s attention with this newcomer; this situation precipitated his exit from the club. After success at the 1962 World Cup, he decided to become a coach.

Playing Honours





Coach/Manager Career

After retiring as player he began a coach career with Sporting Cristal, and was called to manage the Peru national team in the 1970 World Cup. That team included stars like Teófilo Cubillas and Héctor Chumpitaz were eventually defeated in the quarter finals by Brazil. In 1971 he managed the top Argentinemarker club, River Plate, when he accepted a lucrative position, and had his apex in his coaching career with Fenerbahçemarker, guiding the team to two consecutive Turkish First Division (later named Turkish Premier Super League) titles in 1973-1974 and later in 1974-1975.

He also coached important Brazilian clubs like Bangu, Fluminense, Botafogo, Cruzeiromarker, Peruvian club Alianza Lima, Kuwaiti and Saudi national teams.

In October 2000, he was inducted into the FIFA Hall of Champions. By this time he was quite ill and died the following year in Rio de Janeiro from complications arising from intestinal cancer.

Trivia

On June 16, 1950 in a friendly match involving Rio de Janeiromarker and São Paulomarker youth state teams, Didi (aged 20), playing for Rio de Janeiro, scored the first ever goal at the Maracanã Stadiummarker.. He is also known as the first person to call the game The Beautiful Game.

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