Coping with the burden of vast, expectant and fanatical supporters is nothing new for Brazilian striker Deivid, freshly returned to his homeland with Flamengo after an eventful five-year sojourn in European football. And though armed with the experience of leading the line for clubs of the stature of Corinthians, Bordeaux, Sporting and Fenerbahce, the 30-year-old will need all his talent and goalscoring nous to win the hearts of the Fla faithful.
“There’s no middle ground here: you go from hero to zero in the space of one game,” Deivid said on the contrast between Brazilian and Turkish football. “Over in Turkey the fans spend the entire time cheering on the team, from the warm-up through to the final whistle, whether you’re winning or losing. Only once the game’s over do they boo you after a poor display.
“Here in Brazil it’s very different. If you score a goal then you’re great. But if you miss a chance, two moves into your next game you’re already getting booed. That’s just how it is: at big clubs you’re celebrated and vilified in equal measure. But now I’m able to say that I’m ready to handle that.”
He may well require thick skin to thrive at Brazil’s most popular club, the one he supported from the stands until leaving Rio de Janeiro at 17 for the first of two goal-laden spells at Santos. A Brasileirao winner at both Pele's former side and Cruzeiro - he was also a Copa do Brasil champion with the latter and Corinthians - Deivid nonetheless admits that only his time in European football has given him the maturity to handle his latest challenge.
“It’s easy to get overawed at a club like Flamengo. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been able to cope with that before but now I’m a family man, I’ve got a good head on my shoulders and a solid financial situation,” said the Rubro-negro new boy. “You need to have that structure in place to be able to take the knocks. This was the right moment to join Flamengo.”
Deivid also feels his four years on Turkish soil, which included a league title and vital goals in Fener’s run to the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, were vital to his professional development. “I’m a more complete player now than when I left Brazil, though I’m a bit short of match practice at the moment and need to get some games under my belt," he said.
“I’ve been playing a bit deeper the last few years, in a more creative role, and I think that I’ve got more to offer the team now because I track back more and defend better,” continued Deivid who, with the 2009 national champions currently languishing in the bottom half, has been paired up front with gifted youngster and fellow new signing Diogo.
“This partnership has got all the ingredients to be successful. Diogo is a very talented and intelligent player, he moves very well and I think given time to gel we can do well together.”
Though by his own admission still short of his best form, Os Rubro-negros' No99 very nearly crowned his first home game with a goal, thumping a drive just over the bar in last Sunday’s 0-0 draw with former club Santos. Despite failing to get off the mark, Deivid showed enough to earn early plaudits from the Fla faithful, though not from the club’s director of football and his erstwhile Fener coach Zico.
“Come on lad, let’s see if you can shoot a bit lower next time,” joked the legendary ex-Brazil and Flamengo No10 when bumping into his former charge after training at the Estadio da Gavea.
“He [Zico] was like that in Turkey all the time, he was always ready with a joke or two after a game. We built up a great friendship over the two years we worked together. We used to bring our families together and have barbecues - we’ve got a really great relationship.
"Zico made Flamengo a force once more and he gave a boost to the whole of Carioca (Rio) football,” continued Deivid, before ending with the final word on that near miss against the high-flying Santistas: “The ball was bobbling wildly so I had to adjust my body. I ended up hitting it full on and it rose just too high. Even at the time I couldn’t help thinking, 'what a first impression that would have been!'”