Diego Ribas da Cunha
Diego in 2010.
|Full name||Diego Ribas da Cunha|
|Date of birth||28 February 1985|
|Place of birth||Ribeirão Preto, Brazil|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder|
|Current club||VfL Wolfsburg|
|2011–2012||→ Atlético Madrid (loan)||30||(3)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 18 May 2013.
† Appearances (Goals).
Diego Ribas da Cunha (born 28 February 1985), commonly known as just Diego, is an international Brazilian footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for VfL Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga. He is a playmaker known for his pinpoint passes, back-heelers, overhead kicks and a whole box of other tricks as well as his scoring abilities.
Club career 
At age six, Diego started to show his talent when training with Comercial FC in Ribeirão Preto. After joining another team, São Carlos, when he was nine, Diego decided to take trials in the hope of impressing a bigger club. Diego was first signed by the São Paulo team Santos FC at the age of 12. Diego developed whilst in the Santos youth system, making his first team debut at the age of 16 in the Rio-São Paulo Championship in 2002 and in the same year he won the domestic Campeonato Brasileiro championship. He, Robinho, Elano and Alex were known as a famous group when they played for Santos.
Diego was then signed by Portuguese club FC Porto in July 2004 as a replacement for the FC Barcelona-bound Deco and was seen as his successor to Deco, but could not produce the same calibre of performances he did at Santos. Diego made his debut for Porto in a 1–1 draw against União de Leiria on 22 August 2004. On 30 October 2004, Diego scored his first goal for Porto in a 2–2 draw against Nacional. In his first season at Porto, Diego made 30 appearances, scoring two goals against Sporting Clube de Portugal and Sporting de Braga. In 2005–06, however, Diego did not maintain a stable place in the Porto team under coach Co Adriaanse and also found life difficult at Porto. He eventually left Porto for Werder Bremen.
Werder Bremen 
2006–07 season 
The 2006–07 Bundesliga season began well for Diego. He scored the first goal and set up two more for Bremen in their 4–2 win over Hannover 96, on 13 August. In his second match in the Bundesliga, he set up both goals in the 2–1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.
Thanks to his good performances in August, both in the Bundesliga and in the Ligapokal, Diego won the August Player of the Month award. As the Bundesliga season went on, Diego made several amazing performances and became one of the most valuable players for Werder Bremen, along with his teammate Torsten Frings. They were called the "two motors of Bremen's midfield." In October 2006, he won a second Player of the Month award and again in December 2006. He was then named as the Best Player of the first half of the Bundesliga.
Werder Bremen finished in third place in Group A in the Champions League group stages, and they moved to the UEFA Cup, where they reached the semi-finals, beating AZ from the Netherlands in the quarter-finals, due in part to Diego's creative play.
On 15 April, Diego again played well, scoring in the 2–0 win over Borussia Dortmund. Five days later, on 20 April, Bremen played against Alemannia Aachen. Although Diego's performance was good, he did not score until stoppage time when he scored from 62.5 metres, which later was elected as goal of the year. Bremen won the game 3–1 and topped the table with 60 points.
Following his good performances in the first half of the Bundesliga, Diego got called up to the Brazilian national football team in November.
After the 2006–07 season ended, Diego won the Bundesliga Player of the Season award organised by popular magazine kicker. He received just over 50 percent of the votes. Unfortunately, his team did not win the Bundesliga after finishing third in the table, behind champions VfB Stuttgart and Schalke 04.
2007–08 season 
Diego started his season well, scoring a penalty on the first matchday. Diego gave many outstanding performances. He was crucial as Bremen got through to the Champions League's group phase. They beat Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb 3–2 in Zagreb, with Diego scoring two penalties.
On the first Champions League Group Stage matchday, Bremen lost 2–1 to Real Madrid, but Diego's performance aroused interest in Real Madrid's coach Bernd Schuster. But the stories were put to an end when Diego signed a new contract which would last until 2011.
After the loss to Real Madrid, Bremen faced VfB Stuttgart, the defending German champions, at home. Werder won 4–1, with Diego leading the midfield. Later on in the season, Bremen achieved a historical 8–1 win over Arminia Bielefeld, with Diego assisting three goals and scoring one himself.
Diego was voted Player of the Month in September.
He then scored two goals on the way to the UEFA Cup quarter-final with Bremen.
2008–09 season 
Diego's last season in Werder Bremen was his most successful. Diego scored 20 goals in total (more than his two first seasons in the club), although Bremen did finish just 10th in the Bundesliga and were knocked out of the Champions League at the group-stage.
In the UEFA Cup that season, Diego scored six goals, all in the knockout stages.
He scored against Milan the in round of 32, equalizing after 84 minutes, and assisting Claudio Pizarro in the second leg's only goal. He helped his team through the round of 16, and scored four of the six goals, and managed one assist in the quarter-final knockout of Udinese.
In the semi finals, after losing 1–0 in their hometown to "North Derby" rivals Hamburger SV, Diego helped his team back in the second leg with an early equalizer to Ivica Olić's early critical goal. Later on that game, he assisted a corner to Frank Baumann's third Bremen goal. In that game, Diego received an unfortunate yellow card, preventing him from playing in the final, and with a 3–2 away win, he ended his UEFA Cup participation, leading Bremen to their first UEFA Cup final ever.
On 26 May 2009, Diego signed a five-year contract to join Juventus at the end of the season. The fee paid to Bremen by Juventus was worth €24.5 million. The price can rise by a further €2.5 million in case of the fulfillment of established sports objectives in the next five years.
Diego made his Juventus debut against the Korean side Seongnam, in a game they won 3–0. In the first half, Diego made the pass to Mauro Camoranesi, whose pass followed up to a goal. Diego then scored in the second half and was subbed out at the 60th minute. On his Serie A debut, he assisted Vincenzo Iaquinta's goal from a set-piece. In the second fixture of the campaign, Diego recorded his first Serie A goal, scoring twice in Juventus' 3–1 victory against Roma on 30 August 2009. He also scored goals against Bologna, Fiorentina, and also against Napoli. One of his most noted assists was his backheel to Alessandro Del Piero's goal against Genoa. He has also scored in the 2010 Trofeo TIM against Milan. Diego's swaggering displays he produced during his time in Bremen were met with anger and confusion from Juventus' fans; the formation did not suit him and he had a fall-out with then coach Ciro Ferrara. Juventus announced Diego would leave Juventus despite pleading to stay at the club. German clubs like VfL Wolfsburg, Bayern Munich, and his former club Werder Bremen were linked to sign him. But Werder Bremen ruled out signing him due to sporting director Klaus Allofs believing a deal to bring him back to Bremen would be "economically impossible." and Diego reiterated his desire to stay.
Eventually, on 27 August 2010, Diego moved from Juventus to VfL Wolfsburg for a club record transfer fee of €15.5 million, which Juve would only received €14.75 million as 5% of the transfer fee transferred to his youth clubs as solidarity contribution. Following his move to Wolfsburg, Diego criticized Juventus general director Giuseppe Marotta for his exit and is the blame for letting Juventus make huge losses on some high-profile players.
In his first match for VfL Wolfsburg, he scored his debut goal in a game which Wolfsburg lost 3–4 to Mainz. On 5 February 2011, Diego won a penalty for Wolfsburg. Diego took the ball from designated spot-kick taker Patrick Helmes and then hit the woodwork 10 minutes from time. Wolfsburg later lost the match by one goal and Wolfsburg's manager Steve McClaren fined him €100,000 (£86,000) for failing to follow instructions. Diego was defended by Dieter Hoeneß, claiming that Diego does not believe he should be banned for the incident. He was also informed that he will be removed from the first team for Wolfsburg’s upcoming game against Hamburger SV. He once again got in trouble with the management of Wolfsburg, when, on 14 May before a crucial relegation game against Hoffenheim, he left the hotel in which the team was staying when he was informed he would not be starting the game. This left Wolfsburg with only six players on the bench for the game that would determine whether they would play another season in the German Bundesliga or be relegated. Wolfsburg went on to win the game 3–1 without Diego, ensuring another top flight season for the club, though Diego was fined €500,000 for his actions.
Loan to Atlético Madrid 
After the 2010–11 season at Wolfsburg, new manager Felix Magath told Diego in May he had no future with Wolfsburg. On the last day of the transfer season, Diego joined Atlético Madrid in La Liga on a season-long loan. On 10 September 2011, he made his debut for Atlético against Valencia CF. He scored his first goal for Atlético in the 60th minute of a UEFA Europa League game against Celtic to make it 2–0 and made assist to Radamel Falcao in the third minute. The match resulted 2–0 win for Atlético. Diego scored his first league goal in a 3–2 win over Levante UD on 20 November 2011. As a key player for Atlético, Diego provided assists and established himself in the first team.
On 9 May 2012, Diego scored the third goal on Atlético's win over Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League Final, assuring the capital side won the title for the second time in three years. After the match, Diego told UEFA’s official website, "We played against a tough rival like Athletic, but we played an almost perfect match, it was a difficult match, we never said it was going to be easy. I have to thank God for this [victory]."
Fellow midfielder Juanfran revealed that Diego wants to stay at Madrid rather than go back to Germany but confessed that it would be tough for the club to buy him outright. Diego admitted that his time with Atlético has been "magical," stating that his time in Spain was more than what he could have hoped for: "This season was positive on both an individual and collective level and I'm delighted." and made a farewell message to the club's fans, telling them about the club will be part of his life. Seven months on, Diego revealed he was unaware over a permanent move to Atlético Madrid as the move never happened.
Return to Wolfsburg 
Diego returned to Wolfsburg following the end of his loan spell in Madrid. Upon his return, his relationship with manager Magath continued to deteriorate, by placing him to the reserve side after Magath criticised his attitude on his first training session back. Despite the strained relationship between the two, he was selected by Magath in a series of pre-season friendlies in a tour of China. He was told by Magath he has no future in Wolfsburg, nevertheless Diego announced that he would stay at the club, as clubs oversea had no interests signing him.
Diego played his first game for the club in a 1–0 victory over Stuttgart on the opening game of the Bundesliga. In the club's first game without Magath after being sacked with only five points in eight matches (and no goals and points in the last four games), he scored his first goal and provided his first assist of the Bundesliga season in Wolfsburg's 4–1 defeat of Fortuna Düsseldorf on 27 October 2012 that ended a run of four straight defeats. Following the match, Diego stated that the club are enjoying their football again. Four days later in the DFB-Pokal, Diego opened the scoring before providing an assist for Bas Dost as Wolfsburg defeated FSV Frankfurt 2–0. He netted a brace in Wolfsburg's 3–1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen on 11 November, bringing to an end Bayer's 11-game unbeaten run and giving Wolfsburg their first home win of the Bundesliga season.
International career 
Diego made his international debut in April 2003 in a friendly match against Mexico. He was later included in Brazil U-23 team that competed in 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup alongside Santos' teammate Robinho. Although Brazil compete as an under-23 team, the international appearances and goals were recorded as FIFA acknowledge the tournament as senior-team matches. He appeared five times and scored two goals as Brazil U-23 lost out to Mexico senior-team in the final.
In 2004, Diego was called up for the Brazil national squad for the Copa América 2004, and he was instrumental in securing the tournament victory for Brazil when he scored in the penalty shootout against Argentina in the final.
However, due to his decline in performance with FC Porto between 2004 and 2006, he was often left out of the Brazil squad. He was mostly playing as deputy to Kaká and was also left out of the Brazil squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
After a move to Werder Bremen, he regained his form and subsequently recalled to the Brazil squad for a in November 2006. He was then included in Brazil's squad for Copa América 2007, which Brazil went on to win, once again defeating Argentina in the final.
Diego also participated with Brazil U-23 team for 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Brazil went on to achieve Bronze medal with a third place finish in the tournament.
- Portuguese Supercup: 2004
- Intercontinental Cup: 2004
- Portuguese Liga: 2005–06
- Taça de Portugal: 2006
- Werder Bremen
- Atlético Madrid
- Salerno Mundialito: 2000
- South American Under 17 Championship: 2001
- Toulon Tournament: 2002
- Copa América: 2004, 2007
- Olympic Bronze Medalist: 2008
Club statistics 
- (correct as of 18 May 2013)
International career 
Personal life 
Diego is of Italian ancestry with both of his paternal great grandparents emigrating from Italy to Brazil. His paternal great grandfather, Carlo Lazzari, came from Ferrara, Italy, and his paternal great grandmother, Maria Concetta Viola, came from Naples, Italy. As a result of his Italian ancestry, Diego received his Italian passport in 2004.
International goals 
- Scores and results list Brazil's goal tally first.
|1.||1 June 2007||Emirates Stadium, London||England||1–0||1–1||Friendly|
|2.||31 May 2008||CenturyLink Field, Seattle||Canada||2–1||3–1||Friendly|
|3.||12 October 2008||Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Center Stadium||China PR||2–0||3–0||2008 Summer Olympics|
- "Player Profile". Atletico Madrid.[dead link]
- "Vier Abgänge / Diego zu Atletico Madrid" [Four losses / Diego to Atlético] (in German). 31 August 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- "Diego making his mark in Bremen". fifa.com. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
- "Diego Ribas da Cunha Biography". World Soccer. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- "Diego making his mark in Bremen". 25 October 2006. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "Fußballer des Monats – August 2006" (in German). Retrieved 6 October 2007.
- "Bundesliga – Diego crowned Bundesliga's best". Eurosport.com. 29 May 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007.[dead link]
- "Diego Extends Until 2011". werder.de. 22 September 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007.
- "Fußballer des Monats – September 2007" (in German). Retrieved 6 October 2007.
- "Diego is officially a Juventus player". Juventus Football Club. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
- "Diego Scores A Cheeky Goal In Juventus Debut". totalprosports.com. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "Diego's idea, Iaquinta's header Juve down Chievo". La Gazzetta dello Sport. 23 August 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "Serie A: Diego double spells trouble for Roma". ESPN. 30 August 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "Bremen rule out Diego return". Sky Sports. 18 August 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- "Diego confirms Juve desire". Sky Sports. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- "Half-yearly Financial Report at 31 December 10". Juventus. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
- "Diego blames Marotta for exit". Sky Sports. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- "Hoeness defends Diego". Sky Sports. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Wright, Chris. "Diego Fined €100k For Penalty Miss, Steve McClaren Then Sacked By Wolfsburg (Video)". whoateallthepies.tv. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
- Edwards, Daniel (14 May 2011). "Diego storms out after being omitted from Wolfsburg squad for Hoffenheim clash". goal.com. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
- Matthews, Luke (22 June 2011). "Wolfsburg's Diego fined €500,000 for abandoning team-mates – report". goal.com. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
- Redshaw, David (1 September 2011). "Atlético Madrid snare Wolfsburg’s Diego on season-long loan". adifferentleague.co.uk. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "Valencia CF 1 – 0 Atlético Madrid". eurosport.yahoo.com. 10 September 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "Europa League: Atletico Madrid 2 Celtic 0". Daily Record. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- "Falcao inspires Atletico". ESPN Soccernet. 9 May 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- "Atletico Madrid's Diego: We played an almost perfect game". Goal.com. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- Mira, Luis (8 May 2012). "Juanfran: Diego wants Atletico Madrid stay". goal.com. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Butt, Ali (20 May 2012). "Diego: Atletico Madrid loan spell 'a pleasure'". sportsmole.co.uk. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- "Diego: Atletico Madrid will always be a part of me". Goal.com. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- "Diego: I have not been approached by Atletico Madrid". Goal.com. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- "Diego may be banished to Wolfsburg II in German fourth tier". Goal.com. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 2012.
- "Magath unimpressed by Diego workrate in training". Goal.com. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- "Wolfsburg take Diego on pre-season tour of China". Goal.com. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- "Magath: Diego will stay at Wolfsburg if nothing happens in the next few days". Goal.com. 31 July 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- "F Düsseldorf 1 – 4 Wolfsburg". ESPNFC. 27 October 2012.
- "Wolfsburg have rediscovered their freedom after Magath's exit, hints Diego". Goal.com. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- "VfL Wolfsburg 2 – 0 FSV Frankfurt". ESPNFC. 31 October 2012.
- "VfL Wolfsburg 3–1 Bayer Leverkusen". ESPNFC. 11 November 2012.
- "Seleção Brasileira (Brazilian National Team) 2002–2003". rsssfbrasil.com. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "Seleção Brasileira (Brazilian National Team) 2004–2005". rsssfbrasil.com. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "Seleção Brasileira (Brazilian National Team) 2006–2007". rsssfbrasil.com. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "Seleção Brasileira (Brazilian National Team) 2008–2009". rsssfbrasil.com. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "Seleção Brasileira Restritiva (Brazilian National Restrictive Team) 2004–2008". rsssfbrasil.com. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "ESCLUSIVA CALCIOMERCATO/ Juventus, avvocato Basile: io interista, ho dato a Diego la cittadinanza italiana" (in Italian). ilsussidiario.net. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Diego Ribas da Cunha|
- Atlético Madrid official profile
- Diego at fussballdaten.de (German)
- Diego at Transfermarkt
- Diego at National-Football-Teams.com
- Diego – FIFA competition record
- Official website (German) (Portuguese) (English)