Denílson (footballer, born 1977)

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Denílson de Oliveira Araújo 01.jpg
Denilson in 2009
Personal information
Full name Denílson de Oliveira Araújo
Date of birth (1977-08-24) 24 August 1977 (age 45)
Place of birth Diadema, Brazil
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Position(s) Forward
Youth career
São Paulo
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1994–1998 São Paulo 191 (26)
1998–2005 Real Betis 196 (14)
2000Flamengo (loan) 17 (4)
2005–2006 Bordeaux 31 (3)
2006–2007 Al Nassr 15 (3)
2007 FC Dallas 8 (1)
2008 Palmeiras 55 (7)
2009 Itumbiara 1 (0)
2009 Hải Phòng 1 (1)
2010 Kavala 0 (0)
Total 515 (59)
International career
1996–2003 Brazil 61 (8)
Medal record
Representing  Brazil
FIFA World Cup
Winner 2002 Korea & Japan
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Denílson de Oliveira Araújo (born 24 August 1977), known simply as Denílson, is a Brazilian football pundit and former professional player who played as a forward.

In a 17-year career, he played mainly for São Paulo and Real Betis who made him the world's most expensive player in 1998. He also appeared for teams in five other countries during his career.

Denílson gained more than 60 caps for Brazil, making his full debut before his 20th birthday and representing the nation in six international tournaments, including two World Cups (winning the 2002 edition). Denilson was known for his dribbling skills.

Club career[edit]

São Paulo and Betis[edit]

Born in Diadema, São Paulo, Denílson made his senior debuts with local São Paulo at the age of only 17, appearing with the team in the 1994 Copa CONMEBOL and winning the tournament.[1]

In 1998, he broke the world-record transfer fee when Real Betis paid £21.5 million for his services.[2] He made his La Liga debut on 29 August in a 0–0 away draw against Deportivo Alavés,[3] and finished his first season with 35 games and two goals as his team ranked in 11th position; the Andalusians were relegated to Segunda División in 2000.[4]

Denílson spent some months back in his country with Flamengo, on loan, but returned in January 2001 to be a productive attacking unit for Betis as it achieved promotion back (21 games, one goal). He continued to be regularly played in the following top flight campaigns, but more often than not as a substitute.

In 2004–05 Betis finished in fourth position and qualified to the UEFA Champions League, also adding the season's Copa del Rey, but Denílson was only a fringe player now, starting in just three games and playing only 290 minutes.


In the 2005 off-season, Denílson was sold to French club Bordeaux for an undisclosed amount, four years before his Betis contract was due to expire. In his only season in Ligue 1 he appeared regularly to help to a second-place finish, albeit trailing eventual champions Olympique Lyonnais by 15 points.

As the team failed to match Denílson's wage demands, he left and signed for Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr FC, where he played for a couple of months.

FC Dallas[edit]

On 24 August 2007, Denílson joined FC Dallas of Major League Soccer, becoming the team's designated player.[5] he made his league debut on 1 September, entering in the 55th minute against D.C. United, and the following week he made his first start, against Toronto FC at Pizza Hut Park, scoring from the penalty spot in the 36th minute of an eventual 2–0 win.[6]

After only one goal and no assists, Denílson was excluded from Dallas' squad for their appearance in the final of the U.S. Open Cup, raising questions of whether he would remain with the club following the season (even though Open Cup regulations allowed no more than five foreign players on the game-day roster). Further fueling speculation, head coach Steve Morrow said the player would need to "earn a spot in the starting lineup like everybody else"; goalkeeper Darío Sala added the team was having problems adjusting to a change in scheme to accommodate Denílson.[7]

Later years[edit]

At the end of the season, FC Dallas decided not to pick up its option on Denílson, but stated their desire to resign the winger at a lower salary.[8] In February 2008 he signed a one-year performance-based contract with Palmeiras, hoping the club structure and experienced coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo would help him recover his best football. He was unable to make the starting squad, spending most of the season as a bench option; nonetheless, he helped Verdão to the São Paulo State Championship and a berth in the Copa Libertadores after the fourth place in the Série A.

On 6 January 2009, Denílson was taken on trial by Premier League side Bolton Wanderers with a chance to sign a contract until the end of the campaign.[9] He stated: "I want to play in Europe, but I am not in a rush. I have received proposals from England, Greece, Turkey and Germany. I am studying them", further adding: "I understand that this is the time to return to European football, but if I am not convinced by any offer I hope to continue in Brazil, where there are also clubs interested in me";[10] eventually, nothing came of it.[11]

After terminating his contract with Palmeiras, 31-year-old Denílson signed a three-month contract with Itumbiara.[12] On 2 June 2009 he penned a six-month deal with Vietnamese club Hải Phòng F.C. on a pay-as-you-play contract.[13] He made his debut on the 21st against Hoàng Anh Gia Lai, scoring through a free kick just two minutes into the game, but left after only three weeks with the team with only that single appearance to his credit due to injury. Denílson was paid $12,000 for the match and a $5,000 bonus for the goal.[14]

In January 2010, Denílson signed a two-year contract with Kavala in Greece. He was released on 16 April, without having played any games.[15]

International career[edit]

Denílson made his debut for Brazil in November 1996 at the age of 19, against Cameroon. He was called for the squad that competed at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, appearing in all the games for the eventual runners-up; the previous year, he was also selected for the 1997 Copa América and the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup, winning both tournaments and totalling ten appearances (two goals).

Denílson was picked by manager Luiz Felipe Scolari for his 2002 World Cup squad in Japan and South Korea. Always as a substitute, he played in five matches as the Seleção won its fifth World Cup, appearing one minute in the final against Germany.

After Carlos Alberto Parreira returned for his third spell as national team boss, Denílson was not called again. He gained a total of 61 caps.[16]

Style of play[edit]

A creative and technically gifted left-footed player, Denilson was mainly known for his dribbling skills, in particular for his use of several feints to beat opponents such as the step over, which he frequently employed,[17] though infamous for his inability in front of goal. Despite his talent, he was considered by most to not have fulfilled the potential he showed at the start of his career.[18]


Denílson was sponsored by sportswear company Nike, and appeared in commercials for the brand. In a global advertising campaign in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, he starred in a "Secret Tournament" commercial (branded "Scorpion KO") directed by Terry Gilliam, appearing alongside football players such as Fabio Cannavaro, Hernán Crespo, Edgar Davids, Rio Ferdinand, Luís Figo, Paul Scholes, Thierry Henry, Gaizka Mendieta, Hidetoshi Nakata, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Francesco Totti among others, with former player Eric Cantona the tournament "referee".[19][20] In March 2017 Denilson signed with 888poker as a brand ambassador.[21][22]


After retiring, Denílson worked as a sports commentator for Rede Bandeirantes.


São Paulo






  1. ^ "Biografía de Denílson" [Denílson biography] (in Spanish). Futbol 91. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  2. ^ "World beater Denilson on Bolton trial". FIFA. 6 January 2009. Archived from the original on 30 January 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  3. ^ "El Betis no demostró en la catedral su deseo de consagrarse como candidato" [Betis did not show candidate-like will at cathedral]. ABC (in Spanish). 30 August 1998. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Denilson arremete contra la hinchada del Betis" [Denilson blasts Betis supporters]. El País (in Spanish). 6 May 2000. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  5. ^ "Soccer – Brazilian Denilson signs for FC Dallas". Reuters. 24 August 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  6. ^ "Denilson collects first MLS goal". Denton Record-Chronicle. 9 September 2007. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  7. ^ "Equal to the English Premier League?". Yahoo Sports. 25 March 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  8. ^ "FCD opt not to retain Denílson for '08". MLS Net. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2007.
  9. ^ Bolton move for Denilson; Sky Sports, 6 January 2009
  10. ^ Trotters to try out Denilson;, 7 January 2009
  11. ^ Trotters end Denilson interest; Sky Sports, 15 January 2009
  12. ^ Na estreia de Denílson, Itumbiara goleia com três gols de Túlio Maravilha (In Denílson's debut, Itumbiara dominates with three goals by Túlio Maravilha); Globo Esporte, 4 February 2009 (in Portuguese)
  13. ^ "Denilson to leave Vietnam after one goal in half a game". Reuters. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  14. ^ "Denilson to leave Vietnam after one goal in half a game". Reuters. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  15. ^ Denilson cut by Kavala Archived 11 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine; Greek Soccer, 16 April 2010
  16. ^ "Brazil – Record International Players". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  17. ^ "E Denilson in piena area lancia il samba dribbling" [And Denilson brings samba dribbling forth in the box]. Corriere dello Sport (in Italian). 9 July 1998. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  18. ^ "Sono tutti i nipotini di Zagallo" [All of Zagallo's grandchildren]. La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). 11 April 2003. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  19. ^ "A lighter shoe, cooler kits, a faster ball, a Secret Tournament – every touch counts". Nike. Archived from the original on 2 June 2002. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  20. ^ Cozens, Claire (3 April 2002). "Cantona hosts World Cup with a difference". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  21. ^ Jennifer Newell (26 March 2016). "Soccer legend Denilson prepares for poker; signs sponsorship deal". USA Today.
  22. ^ Chad Holloway (31 March 2016). "Team888 & Brazilian Footy Legend - Denílson". 888poker.
  23. ^ "Copa Conmebol 1994: San Pablo Campeón" on Historias Coperas blogsite, 25 Oct 2016
  24. ^ "Championship of Sao Paulo 1998". Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  25. ^ "La 'Grama' firma un histórico pase a cuartos de final-Fútbol".
  26. ^ "Artilheiros da história" (in Portuguese). Folha Online. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2008.
  27. ^ "Brazil crowned world champions". BBC Sport. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  28. ^ Lacey, David (13 July 1998). "Zidane's double leads the rout as hosts put paid to below-par Brazil". The Guardian. p. 23. Archived from the original on 31 October 2021. Retrieved 31 October 2021 – via
  29. ^ "Brazil 6 Australia 0". Football Database. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  30. ^ "Bolivia - Brazil 1:3 (Copa America 1997 Bolivia, Final)". Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  31. ^ "CONCACAF Championship, Gold Cup 1998". RSSSF.
  32. ^ "South American Team of the Year". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. 16 January 2009. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.

External links[edit]