He has long been the quiet maestro of Brazilian football. While the likes of Ronaldinho, Robinho and Kaka have been grabbing the headlines in Spain and Italy, Diego has been the architect of the continuing rise of Werder Bremen. Now, he is putting his midfield expertise at the service of his country at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Thiago Neves was the two-goal hero for Brazil in their 3-0 victory over hosts China, but in the opinion of many experts, Diego was the real fulcrum of Brazil's success, laying on a goal for Thiago Neves and getting on the scoresheet himself.
It only reinforced the belief, established in Brazil's opening two games, that the Germany-based schemer will be a vital cog in Brazil's machinery if the South American giants are to gain that elusive first-ever Olympic gold medal. Shortly after the match with China in Qinhuangdao, Diego spoke to FIFA.com about his experiences in Beijing so far, and Brazil's next challenge.
FIFA.com: Can you describe your emotions when Werder Bremen decided to release you for this Olympics?
Diego: I was very happy, because to play in the Olympics has always been one of my greatest career dreams. And now I have achieved that.
Why was playing here so important for you?
The Olympics is a great competition, which brings together several nations in different sports. And Brazil has not yet won the gold medal in men's football, so how good would it be for us to be the first?
Has the tournament been everything you dreamed about so far?
Yes, I am enjoying everything so far.
What was going through your mind after you scored against China?
I was very pleased to score my first goal in the Olympic Games. Playing for the Seleçao has always been an emotional experience, and to score a goal is something even better.
During the match you linked up well with Ronaldinho, do you think he is showing signs of getting back to his best?
Yes, he is a sensational player, who is returning to his peak fitness, and is showing all the technical excellence we know about.
The Chinese fans have been delighted to see him carrying a pair of bongos (drums) whenever he enters the team hotel. When do they get played - and do you ever have a go of them?
Brazilian people always love music! These bongos get the group in the mood when we're playing Pagode.
How much do you think your young midfield team-mates Anderson and Lucas have developed since their move to the Premier League?
These are two great young players, and their careers are evolving quickly there. They are better every time I play with them for Brazil.
With three wins, nine goals and none conceded, it's been a dream start for you. What's been key to this success?
Hard work and team unity. We all want that gold medal, you know!
What kind of a test do you think Cameroon will provide in your quarter-final match?
That will be a very difficult game against a team that's traditionally strong in the Olympics. And now that it's the knockout phase, we can't let our attention slip for one moment during the 90 minutes.
*FIFA.com would like to thank Leonardo Scheinkman for his assistance in arranging this interview.