JOSÉ ROBERTO GAMA DA SILVA 'BEBETO'

Date of Birth: 16 February, 1964
Nationality: Brazil (international)
Period at Deportivo: 1992 - 1996
Transfer: 300 mln ptas (ca €1,9 million) (1992, from Vasco da Gama)
Clubs: Sevilla, Flamengo, Deportivo (1992-1996), Vasco da Gama (1989-1992), Flamengo (1982-1989)
Sold: $2,5 million (1996, to Flamengo)
Height: 174 cm
Weight: 64 kg
Position: Striker

Brazilian striker BEBETO was the first Deportivo player to become topscorer in the Primera División and is already considered a legend in La Coruña. His arrival in 1992, together with Mauro Silva that same year, marked the beginning of the Superdepor era and Deportivo's first years as an important Spanish club.

When he came to Deportivo, Bebeto was already 28 years old and there were doubts if he could prove his qualities in Europe. He had already proven his worth as goalscorer in Brazil. He was part of the Brazilian squad playing the World Cup 1990 tournament in Italy. Borussia Dortmund were also seriously interested in getting him, but in the end Bebeto decided in favour of playing in Spain. As one of his grandparents came from Galicia, he wouldn't be considered a foreigner.

It would be four very successful seasons for the quick striker with his small feet. In his first season (1992/1993) he scored 29 Liga goals in 37 matches and became Pichichi of the Primera División. His club surprised the whole of Spain by staying close to the top spots, but had to settle for the third place in the end.

One season later, Bebeto would experience his most disappointing moment of his career when Deportivo lost the Liga during the final minute of the season because of the Djukic penalty miss. Bebeto was supposed to take the penalty but he didn't dare to do it. The supporters of the club have forgiven him for a long time already.

But sadness and happiness followed each other quickly as two months later he won the World Cup 1994 tournament with Brazil. Bebeto formed a lethal duo together with Romario, played seven matches and scored three goals, and so Deportivo now had two world champions in their squad (Bebeto and Mauro Silva). Bebeto had started his international career with Brazil in 1984 and would even be present at the World Cup of 1998, at the age of 34.

Deportivo won their first prize ever in 1995 when they clinched the Copa del Rey in a legendary (postponed) match against Valencia. Bebeto didn't score in the final match, but again he was a vital part of the team that season. That same year he scored an amazing total of five goals during a home match against Albacete (5-0). This hadn't been done since 'Pichi' Alonso scored five for Real Zaragoza during the season 1978/1979. Curious was that four of his goals were produced in the final seven minutes of the match. Overall it was a very productive week for Bebeto as three days earlier he scored three goals during a 8-0 UEFA Cup win against Apoel Nicosia.

But being 32 years old in 1996, the Brazilian striker decided that "the moment has come to return home". One of the reasons for it was his difficult relationship with coach Toshack who substituted him on several occasions. Although he had a contract at Deportivo running until 30 June, 1997 a clause stated that he could leave if a Brazilian club was prepared to pay $2,5 million for his services or a Spanish club $3 million. Valencia were interested, Vasco da Gama wanted him back, but in the end Bebeto was signed by Flamengo (this deal included an option for Deportivo to sign Savio). He had produced 86 Liga goals in 131 matches at Deportivo in four seasons, a record and average which won't be broken soon. But according to Bebeto his mission at Deportivo was "completed" and now he wanted to make Flamengo champions. "But La Coruña always will be my second home".

In the summer of 1997 he was close to returning to Deportivo, but the negotiations failed although before this Bebeto already had returned to Spain. He was sold during the season 1996/1997 to Sevilla for about $4 million, but his return would be a failure.

Four years after he left Deportivo, he admitted that the biggest mistake of his career had been to quit the Galician club. His wife Denise mentioned that Bebeto has always felt sorry about leaving La Coruña, and that after his career the family might return to the city to live in the city. "Over there he was treated with respect and kindness, something that he hasn't experienced elsewhere".
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