Diego Ribas da Cunha

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Not to be confused with Diego Sebastián Ribas.
This name uses Portuguese naming customs. The first or maternal family name is Ribas and the second or paternal family name is da Cunha.
Diego on action for Brazil in 2006
Personal information
Full name Diego Ribas da Cunha
Date of birth (1985-02-28) 28 February 1985 (age 30)
Place of birth Ribeirão Preto, Brazil
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)[1]
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 10
Youth career
1996–2001 Santos
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2004 Santos 64 (21)
2004–2006 Porto 48 (4)
2006–2009 Werder Bremen 84 (38)
2009–2010 Juventus 33 (5)
2010–2014 VfL Wolfsburg 76 (19)
2011–2012 Atlético Madrid (loan) 30 (3)
2014 Atlético Madrid 13 (1)
2014– Fenerbahçe 28 (3)
National team
2003–2008 Brazil U23 15 (7)
2003–2008 Brazil 33 (4)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 13 September 2015.
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 20 May 2010

Diego Ribas da Cunha (born 28 February 1985), commonly known as just Diego, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Turkish club Fenerbahçe.

He began his career at Santos, where he won two Campeonato Brasileiro Série A titles before moving to FC Porto in 2004. Despite winning further trophies in Portugal, his personal form dropped. After two seasons, he moved for €6 million to Werder Bremen where his form improved, winning domestic honours and helping them to the 2009 UEFA Cup Final. He also won honours at Atlético Madrid, including the UEFA Europa League in 2012.

A full international for Brazil since 2003, Diego earned 33 caps and scored four international goals. He was part of the Brazilian squads which finished as runners-up at the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup, won the Copa América in 2004 and 2007, and earned a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics.

Club career[edit]


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.[2] 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 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. On 30 October, Diego scored his first goal for Porto in a 2–2 draw against Nacional.

As Porto triumphed in the Intercontinental Cup against Once Caldas via a penalty shootout, Diego was sent off for swearing at goalkeeper Juan Carlos Henao after scoring his effort. Journalist Tim Vickery ascribed this action to Diego's experiences against the team in the previous season's Copa Libertadores, in which the physical Colombian side eliminated Santos in the quarter-finals.[3]

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, he 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[edit]

2006–07 season[edit]

Diego celebrating the DFB-Pokal win along with team-mate Naldo.

In May 2006, Diego signed a contract with Werder Bremen until 2010 for a transfer fee of €6 million.[4]

His first match for Werder Bremen came in the DFB-Ligapokal (League Cup). Werder Bremen won the cup, beating Bayern Munich in the final on 5 August.

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.[5] 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.[6] 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.

Diego in training at Werder Bremen.

2007–08 season[edit]

Diego in 2007.

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.[7]

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.[8]

He then scored two goals on the way to the UEFA Cup quarter-final with Bremen.

2008–09 season[edit]

Diego signing autograph.

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.

Diego playing for Juventus

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.

Without Diego in the 2009 UEFA Cup Final, Bremen lost the game 2–1 in extra time to Ukrainian team Shakhtar Donetsk.

In his last match with Bremen, Diego gave the assist to Mesut Özil's winning goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup final, to win the German Cup for the sixth time.


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.[9]

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.[10] On his Serie A debut, he assisted Vincenzo Iaquinta's goal from a set-piece.[11] 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.[12] 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."[13] and Diego reiterated his desire to stay.[14]


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.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17] He was also informed that he will be removed from the first team for Wolfsburg’s upcoming game against Hamburger SV.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

Loan to Atlético Madrid[edit]

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.[21] On 10 September 2011, he made his debut for Atlético against Valencia CF.[22] 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.[23] 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. But on 19 February 2012 against Sporting Gijón, Diego sustained a hamstring injury in the second half.[24] It would announced that Diego would be out for a month.[25] After a month out, Diego recovered from his injury and made his return to training.[26] Diego made his return against Real Zaragoza on 26 March 2012.[27]

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.[28] 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]."[29]

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.[30] 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."[31] and made a farewell message to the club's fans, telling them about the club will be part of his life.[32] Seven months on, Diego revealed he was unaware over a permanent move to Atlético Madrid as the move never happened.[33]

Return to Wolfsburg[edit]

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[34] after Magath criticised his attitude on his first training session back.[35] Despite the strained relationship between the two, he was selected by Magath in a series of pre-season friendlies in a tour of China.[36] He was told by Magath he has no future in Wolfsburg, nevertheless Diego announced that he would stay at the club, as clubs overseas had no interest signing him.[37]

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.[38] Following the match, Diego stated that the club are enjoying their football again and he had given a chance under new interim manager Lorenz-Günther Köstner.[39][40] 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.[41] 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.[42] Then, on 8 December 2012, Diego scored and set up the second and third goal in match, in a 3–2 win over Borussia Dortmund.[43] Throughout the 2012–13 season, Diego continued to make an impressive display for the club, scoring ten goals in thirty-seven appearance in all competitions, making him the club's top-scorer.

Ahead and ongoing of the 2013–14 season, Diego was linked back to Santos[44] and Arsenal.[45] Diego stayed in the first half of the season and scored three times in fifteen appearances. During the first half of the season, Diego's future at Wolfsburg was uncertain after he disagreed with the sporting director Klaus Allofs.[46] At this time, Diego earned the highest wages at the club.[47] The club was keen to extend Diego's contract.[48]

Atlético Madrid[edit]

On 31 January 2014, Diego moved back from Wolfsburg to Atlético Madrid. He signed a contract for the rest of the 2013–14 season.[49] Prior the move, Diego desired to leave Wolfsburg in order to play in the Champions League.[50]

Diego debuted on 2 February on Atlético's victory 4–0 against Real Sociedad, scoring the match's fourth and final goal.[51] On 1 April, Diego scored from a long-range shot against FC Barcelona in the Champions League,[52] as Atlético reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1974. Atlético Madrid would reach the final of the Champions League for the second time since 1974. after beating Chelsea 3–1 to face their rival Real Madrid in their first ever Madrid derby in the Champions League final. Unfortunately for him, Diego was an unused substitute in the final, as Atlético Madrid lost 4–1.[53] Nevertheless, Diego helped the club win the La Liga to earn his team its first league title in 18 years.[54]

After being linked a move away, Diego wrote on his Instagram account, giving the Atlético Madrid supporters a farewell message, as he left the club for the second time.[55]


Upon his contract expiring at the end of the 2013–14 season, Diego was linked with a move to both Premier League side Arsenal and Turkish Süper Lig side Fenerbahçe,[56] and on 11 July 2014, Fenerbahçe confirmed a three-year deal after a medical.[57] The next day, Diego was presented with number ten shirt.[58]

Diego made his Fenerbahçe debut in the opening game of the season, coming on as a substitute for Emmanuel Emenike in the 62nd minutes, in a 3-2 win over Karabükspor.[59] Diego continued to be in the first team by the first half of the season until he suffered a partial muscle tear, during a 1-1 draw against Bursaspor on 24 November 2014.[60] After being on the sidelined for three weeks, Diego made his first team return against Altınordu in the Groupstage of Turkish Cup, which he scored in a 1-1 draw on 23 December 2014.[61] On 24 January 2015, Diego played a vital role when he provided two assist for Dirk Kuyt and Caner Erkin, in a 3-0 win over Kasımpaşa SK on 24 January 2015.[62] Diego's second goal then came four months later on 3 April 2015, in the quarter-final of Turkish Cup, in a 2-1 win over Mersin İdmanyurdu.[63] Soon after, Diego soon made complaint, claiming he hadn't been paid by the club.[64] Diego scored his first league goal for the club in a 4-3 win over Balıkesirspor on 2 May 2015[65] after making his first team from the previous game as a substitute.[66] This was followed up his second league goal seven days later, in a 3-2 win over Sivasspor[67] Diego's third goal later came in a 2-2 draw against İstanbul Başakşehir.[68] In his first season at Fenerbahçe, Diego made thirty appearance and scoring five times in all competitions.

International career[edit]

Diego with the Brazilian national team.

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.

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.

Playing style[edit]

Diego is a creative attacking midfielder and playmaker known for his technique, dribbling ability, vision, and accurate passing; he is also capable of playing as a supporting forward or on the wing on occasion.[69] As well as being an effective assist provider, he is also known for his goalscoring ability,[4] and he is an accurate set-piece taker.[69] Diego is also known for his trickery and ball-skills, such as his use of back-heels, feints, and overhead kicks, among an assortment of other tricks.[4]


Werder Bremen
Atlético Madrid

Career statistics[edit]


As of 13 September 2015.
Club Season League Cup Continental Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Santos 2002 22 8 22 8
2003 33 9 33 9
2004 9 4 9 4
Total 64 21 64 21
Porto 2004–05 30 3 2 0 7 1 39 4
2005–06 18 1 2 1 4 1 24 3
Total 48 4 4 1 11 2 63 7
Werder Bremen 2006–07 33 13 3 0 14 2 50 15
2007–08 30 13 3 1 10 4 43 18
2008–09 21 12 5 2 13 7 39 21
Total 84 38 11 3 37 13 132 54
Juventus 2009–10 33 5 2 2 9 0 44 7
2010–11 0 0 0 0 3 0 3 0
Total 33 5 2 2 12 0 47 7
Wolfsburg 2010–11 30 6 2 0 32 6
Total 30 6 2 0 32 6
Atlético Madrid (loan) 2011–12 30 3 1 0 12 3 43 6
Total 30 3 1 0 12 3 43 6
VfL Wolfsburg 2012–13 32 10 5 3 37 13
2013–14 15 3 3 2 18 5
Total 47 13 8 4 55 18
Atlético Madrid 2013–14 13 1 2 0 4 1 19 2
Total 13 1 2 0 4 1 19 2
Fenerbahçe 2014–15 25 3 5 2 30 5
2015–16 3 0 0 0 4 0 7 0
Total 28 3 5 2 4 0 37 5
Career total 372 94 34 13 78 19 484 125

International career[edit]

As of 1 April 2009.[70][71][72][73][74]

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Brazil's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 16 July 2003 Mexico City, Mexico  Honduras 2–1 2–1 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup
2. 23 July 2003 Miami, United States  United States 2–1 2–1 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup
3. 1 June 2007 London, England  England 1–1 1–1 Friendly
4. 31 May 2008 Seattle, United States  Canada 1–0 3–2 Friendly

U-23 & Olympics[edit]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 6 August 2003 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic  Dominican Republic 3–0 5–0 2003 Pan American Games
2. 7 January 2004 Concepción, Chile  Venezuela 1–0 4–0 2004 Olympic Games qualification
3. 9 January 2004 Concepción, Chile  Paraguay 1–0 3–0 2004 Olympic Games qualification
4. 23 January 2004 Viña del Mar, Chile  Chile 3–1 3–1 2004 Olympic Games qualification
5. 28 July 2008 Singapore  Singapore 1–0 3–0 Friendly
6. 13 August 2008 Qinhuangdao, China PR  China PR 1–0 3–0 2008 Olympic Games
7. 22 August 2008 Shanghai, China PR  Belgium 1–0 3–0 2008 Olympic Games

Personal life[edit]

Diego is of Italian ancestry, with both of his paternal great-grandparents emigrating from Italy to Brazil. His great-grandfather, Carlo Lazzari, came from Ferrara, and his great-grandmother, Maria Concetta Viola, came from Naples. As a result of his Italian ancestry, Diego received his Italian passport in 2004.[75]

Diego is married to Bruna Letícia Araújo, by whom he has two children; a son (born in 2011) and a daughter (born in 2013).[76][77][78]


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