Didi (footballer)

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Waldir Pereira 1958.jpg
Didi in 1958
Personal information
Full name Waldyr Pereira
Date of birth (1928-10-08)8 October 1928
Place of birth Campos dos Goytacazes, RJ, Brazil
Date of death 12 May 2001(2001-05-12) (aged 72)
Place of death Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
1944 São Cristóvão
1945 Industrial (RJ)
1945 Rio Branco (RJ)
1945–1946 Goytacaz (RJ)
1946 Americano (RJ)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1946 Americano (RJ)
1946–1948 Lençoense (SP)
1948–1949 Madureira (RJ)
1949–1956 Fluminense
1957–1959 Botafogo
1959–1960 Real Madrid 19 (6)
1960–1962 Botafogo
1963 Sporting Cristal
1964 São Paulo
1964–1965 Botafogo
1965–1966 CD Veracruz
1966 São Paulo
National team
1952–1962 Brazil 68 (20)
Teams managed
1962–1963 Sporting Cristal
1967–1968 Sporting Cristal
1969–1970 Peru
1971 River Plate
1972–1975 Fenerbahçe
1975 Fluminense
1977 Cruzeiro
1978–1981 Al-Ahli (Jeddah)
1981 Botafogo
1981 Cruzeiro
1985 Fortaleza
1986 São Paulo
1986 Alianza Lima
1989–1990 Bangu

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15 February 2007.
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15 February 2007

Waldyr Pereira (8 October 1928 – 12 May 2001), nicknamed Didi (Portuguese pronunciation: [dʒiˈdʒi]), was a Brazilian footballer who played midfielder. He played in three FIFA World Cups (1954, 1958, and 1962), winning the latter two and was named the tournament's best player in 1958.

Didi is considered to be one of the greatest midfielders in the sport renowned for his range of passing, stamina and technique. He became famous for inventing the folha seca (dry leaf) free kicks, notably used by modern-day players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Juninho, where the ball would swerve downward unexpectedly at a point resulting in a goal.[1]


Born in Rio de Janeiro, 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 Goytacazes. 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 1952 Copa Rio.

During the 1954 World Cup he scored goals against Mexico national team and Yugoslavia national team, before Brazil's defeat to the favorites Hungary national team. This match was 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 Maracanã to his house, at the neighbourhood of Laranjeiras (9,4 km), in his kit if Botafogo won the championship; 5,000 Botafogo fans joined him as he did so.[2]

His greatest achievement came at the 1958 FIFA World Cup where he was player of the tournament.[2] From midfield, he masterminded the first of his two FIFA World Cup successes for Brazil. In 68 international matches he scored 20 goals,[3] including a dozen using his trademark free-kicks.

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

Playing honours

Brazil Squad
Real Madrid[4]

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 FIFA 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 Argentine club, River Plate, when he accepted a lucrative position, and had his apex in his coaching career with Fenerbahçe, 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, Cruzeiro, Peruvian club Alianza Lima, Kuwaiti national team and Al-Ahli teams.

In October 2000, he was inducted into the FIFA Hall of Champions.[8] By this time he was quite ill and died the following year in Rio de Janeiro from complications arising from intestinal cancer.


On June 16, 1950 in a friendly match involving Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo youth state teams, Didi (aged 21), playing for Rio de Janeiro, scored the first ever goal at the Maracanã Stadium.[9] He is also known as the first person to call the game The Beautiful Game.


  1. "Kings of the free-kick". FIFA.com. Retrieved 20 May 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bellos, Alex (2002). Futebol: the Brazilian way of life. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 0-7475-6179-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Waldir Pereira "Didi" – International Appearances and Goals, RSSSF, 6 September 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Didi, the unflappable genius". FIFA.com. Retrieved 23 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 100 World Cup heroes (60-41): Sportsmail's countdown continues with Bergkamp, Milla, Batistuta and Banks (making THAT save
  6. 6.0 6.1 IFFHS' Century Elections
  7. "The Best of The Best" Retrieved on 17 November 2015
  8. "Rivaldo on top of the world". FIFA. Archived from the original on 13 December 2006. Retrieved 4 March 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Maracanã Stadium, Sambafoot

External links