Dede - when a friend leaves
It was a weird day that 15. of March in 2011. One moment filled with happiness and joy after Hummels had signed a contract until 2014, the other filled with sadness and sorrow. In the end, the sad moment weighed heavier. It was the moment when our DEDE announced that he would leave our Borussia at the end of the season. After 13 years of all the ups and downs you could encounter with a team, he got to the point where he needed a new challenge. It is hard to find the right words right now since DEDE isn't just any other player that leaves. He is not just any other player we all loved that leaves, no, it is a friend that leaves. Someone who stayed- through the better and the worse. Someone who had enough chances and opportunities to prove himself in another league of another country but always stayed. Stayed because he cared. For the team and the fans.
It is hard to understand that some things in football come the way they come. We all love Schmelzer, we enjoy watching him play. And somehow we were so euphoric throughout the season that we didn't realize that the inevitable might come sooner than we had expected. And it came. After 13 years DEDE has decided that he is too young to be a substitute player, too good to be a substitute player and he is right. It is painful to realize that all the hopes that he would stay for another year were preposterous because someone like him does not belong on the bench. He belongs out there on the pitch.
Next season he will wear a different coloured jersey and what stays are memories of 13 amazing years. Looking back on that 20 year old boy who came from Atletico Mineiro, it is amazing to see what kind of progress he went through in his years in Dortmund. The easy going lad who was struggling so hard with the weather, careless on the pitch, overstrained with his car due to ice cold temperatures. It is easy to tell anecdotes of DEDE. During his first winter in Germany he had to face a frozen car-window for the first time of his life. The outcome of that? DEDE being late for practice. He thought there was something wrong with his car, not knowing that it was just frost. And don't we all remember the story of the burned trash in the garden? It is common in Brazil to burn the trash outside in the garden, and how was DEDE supposed to know that it wasn't in Germany. So many new things to learn, so many new things to get used to.
Initially he thought that he would go back to Brazil after three years. But things came differently. He stayed, he stayed and became the most important person of trust for all the Brazilian players that would follow. Amoroso, Ewerthon, Leandro, Tinga- only to mention a few. They shared the famous Samba- flat and down on the pitch, they played samba-football. DEDE had, by now, gotten the name "German Brazilian". He learned that 9 o clock meant 9 o clock and three weeks of vacation meant three weeks of vacation. No more, no less. He accepted it, he appreciated it. A few years later he would say "One day when I will have children, I want to move to Germany again, because I want them to know the German way of life". This came from the man who had wanted to go back to Brazil during his first months in Dortmund so badly.
Dortmund had become his home. And us fans, we had already embraced him into our hearts. Easily. How he had always driven his opposite players nuts because there was just no getting through on the left side. He was always there. People always said how difficult it was to find someone great on the left side of the defense. Something we never worried about- we had DEDE. And when he wasn't taking care of the defense, he drove the other teams defense crazy. His most glorious moments were probably the months of the season 2001/2002. The 4:0 against AC Miilan will always be the game of when DEDE lifted the ball over three players and could only be stopped through a foul. And the biggest success of the past decade- the German Championship- it was DEDEs cross that Ewerthon used in order to score the 2:1.
He was there when we had our good times. What followed was a time that is still dreadful in our thoughts. The insecure years of not knowing how it would continue, if everything would continue. We were down at the bottom. Players came and players left. Amoroso, Rosicky, Koller, the glorious players of the Championship season had all gone. DEDE had stayed. On the pressconference of the 15. of March 2011 he would later tell that the other players had said "What are you doing DEDE? Are you stupid? Why aren't you leaving as well?" But DEDE had found his home. He was home in Dortmund. He loved the team, he loved the people, he loved the fans. He stayed. In the possibly worst time of Dortmunds history he decided to stay, to not turn his back on the team and the fans, to support them and help them through those difficult weeks and months.
Looking back, as a fan, I can hardly express how worried I was back then. How big my fear was to lose my beloved Borussia. Today, throughout all this season, it is difficult to express how incredibly happy this team makes all of us. It went uphill again. But at the time when it was going up hill again for us, the difficult weeks and months for DEDE began. One injury followed the next. The cruciate ligament rupture that he got at the beginning of season 08/09 was the beginning of a difficult time for DEDE. However, he got to experience how much he meant to all the people around him: the team and the fans. I remember our BVB players coming on the pitch with a huge banner that read "Der ganze BVB für unseren DEDE" (the whole BVB for our DEDE). In our schwatzgelb discussion board people counted down the days that we would have to wait for DEDE to be healthy again. All of this was mentioned in newspapers. Everyone knew that it was special, that this relationship was special, that you don't just get this kind of support when you are a well liked football players. DEDE has never been just any other player. After recovering from the injury he was thrown back with various other injuries. At this point, Schmelzer had proven what a fantastic player he was on the left side of the defense. And somehow, we had gotten used to Schmelzer playing. Realizing that the cost of this is DEDE looking for a new challenge.
You can't blame him for leaving, that's the worst part of it all. Everybody understands that he still wants to play. And this is probably the most painful part of it all. Us fans, we wish him all the best , we want him to be happy, to be successful and we know that he won't be any of this as a substitue player for Borussia Dortmund. Which is why we have to let him go. But Borussia Dortmund without DEDE is so difficult to imagine, that it brought tears into every fans eyes the day it was announced. When you read the posts in the discussion boards it seemed like there was not one person who had not cried. DEDE and BVB go together like black and yellow.
But DEDE wouldn't be DEDE if he didn't the right words: "I can leave the club in the same good state that it was when I came here". He did not leave in the difficult times. He leaves when things are okay.
After these amazing thirteen years there is only one more thing that is left to say: thank you DEDE! Thank you for all the love, the fighting, the passion, the trust, the loyalty and everything you did for our BVB. Whereever the road may lead you now, we wish you all the very best. You will always be a part of this club and we will keep you in our hearts forever!
With that said, we will leave you with DEDE's own words. Here's what he had to say at the press conference where he announced to leave at the end of the season:
This is very hard for me. Today is a very tough day of my career, of my life. This club means a lot to me. I can say I grew up here. When I first came here it was a hard time for me. But the fans here embraced me and helped me a lot as well as the management and the players. My plan was to stay for three years and return to Brazil after that. I thought Germany was not for me. After a couple of years I learned to love this club. I showed my whole heart on the pitch.
I think I did everything right. If I had the chance to re-live my career I would do everything exactly the same. But sadly it is time to go. I did not loose my place in the team because of my performance but because I tore my cruciate ligament. After that injury I returned fast and started another series in the first team. Then I hurt my right knee. That was just a little operation and I was out for only three weeks. But thank god the team stabilized during that time and played better. Since then I am running after the whole time. I took that very professional even though that was not easy for me. The people might think "he is content, he played enough in his time", but I don't think that way. It was hard for me every single day. I train well but don't ever get the chance to play. We have to take into account how well Schmelle [Marcel Schmelzer, Dede's successor as left fullback] is playing. I have to pay a compliment to him and he is a very good colleague as well. But not only him, I get along very well with the whole team. In all those thirteen years at Borussia I never had a problem with any player, no matter if German or foreigner. That's an important point to me: I respect everybody who works here. Also I have to thank you journalists for these thirteen years we worked together. If I did anything wrong, I want to apologize for that. But you can't do right at all times. I have to thank the club and these fans.
I thought about this a long time. I do not go because I want to leave. My plan was to spend the rest of my career at Borussia. But I think I proved it every day in training, that I am still quick and I still have my quality, so I have to play. I respected the decision of the coach to start Schmelle. I accepted my role as substitute. But to only sit on the bench not get to play at all makes no sense to me. I respect the opinion of the coach and have no problems with him at all. The decision to go was taken together by me and Borussia Dortmund. I thought for a long time about it. I talked to Michael Zorc about this, who is like a father to me even though he is not that old. (smiles) But in any case he is a man I have the greatest respect for.
I know that I lived through the lowest point of the 100 years of Borussia Dortmund's history. A lot of team-mates back then told me: "We're all leaving. Why are you staying? Are you stupid? The team sucks and will get relegated." Back then I had an offer from A.S. Roma but the club refused to let me go. Looking back, I have done everything right. When I came here I could never have imagined how much the people love this club and that I could be integrated so well in Germany. What the fans did when I had my cruciate injury I have never seen in all these thirteen years at Borussia. That was very special to me. The songs and the banners in the stadium.
I leave the club in the same good state it was in when I came here. We will reach the Champions League, my second German championship and with a super team...(Zorc interrupts: Only one time champion, we are not quite there yet...) But almost and I hope we will make it.
Now I leave the club even though I wanted to finish my career here, but sadly in football not all plans come true. But I leave with my head up and I know I gave everything I could for this club.
And here is what DEDE had to say three days later in a video interview with local paper Ruhrnachrichten:
DEDE's Message to the fans:
I have always been a soldier, fighting on the pitch all the time. Whether good or bad times, that was always true. I have always been black'n'yellow and I proved that on the pitch. I thank you from my heart, which is bleeding now, but will smile again, because that is my life. I appeal to you, to continue to support our team at every game just like you used to, so we can take that chance and win the championship. I want to thank you now, but please set my situation aside for now, so me and you can continue to help the team. These are great boys and if everything goes well we will be champions by the end of this season and then we can smile together and maybe cry together as well. I thank you with all my heart.
DEDE on his feelings after announcing to leave Borussia:
I feel bad. I am only human and my heart is bleeding. This is a pain I have not been feeling for a long time. Just once in my life I felt this pain, back when I came over to Germany from Brazil and to leave my family, my club and the Brazilian fans. I had been playing for ten years for this club (Atlético Mineiro). But this is very hard now. It is one of the hardest times in my life.
Dede on his start at Borussia Dortmund:
When I came here I wanted to stay for only two, three years to support my family. At the beginning everything went well for me on the pitch but my private life was really bad. I cried every day and the phonebill went through the roof. I missed my family and friends very much. But I told myself, that I had to take the chance I had at this great club in Germany. So I tried to become integrated as fast as possible. But it was hard for me at that time. There was no internet and I was the only Brazilian at Borussia. So I started to bring my family over, my brothers and cousins. I had my own home and my own life here a little bit Brazilian and a little bit German. I had lots of problems with the police because I used to play the music to loud on sundays. But I learned to respect my neighbours.
On the reaction of the BVB fans after his cruciate ligament:
(He is searching for the right words and can hardly speak) That's a scene I will never forget. How the fans reacted when I entered the Westfalenstadion with crutches. That was such a positive thing for me... (he starts to cry) That's something unforgettable. The cruciate is a severe injury for a footballer. But when I saw how the fans and my team-mates supported me, that was one of the most beautiful days of my life. I was feeling so bad after the surgery, but when I entered the stadium ... there is just no words to describe it. It was like a child was born, I could see the light again. I can be thankful every day because I achieved so much, that I could experience that.
On his future plans:
At the moment all options are open. I am glad, that I received some calls already, from Germany, Brazil and other countries. But at the moment my head is not clear to think about the future, because it is very hard for me after thirteen years. I am only human and I feel this way. I have to take care of my broken heart first, before I talk to other clubs. Thank god I am fit enough and I have shown my qualities in the Bundesliga for many years. For now I focus on Borussia to help the team the best I can to win this title for the fans.
On the prospect to leave with a title:
That means a lot to me. I leave the club through the front door with my head up, just the way I came here. I can still look everybody in the eye at this club. That is very important to me. I can look in the mirror and say I gave all I could not only on the pitch. That is a big win to me. To leave the club in a good state is like another title to me.
On his relationship with the BVB supporters:
Three weeks ago after I had the final talks with Michael Zorc regarding my future, the first thing I did was to enter the Westfalenstadion. It was three in the afternoon and Michael Zorc unlocked the doors for me. I went to the locker room. Then I entered the pitch. I looked at all four corners to thank everybody even though nobody was there at the time.
I am very religious and the stadium of Borussia Dortmund was like a colosseum to me. I needed so much power there, whenever I entered the pitch with pains and aches the people helped me so much there. That was my first reaction: I went to the stadium to thank everybody. Even though I did not see anybody because the stadium was empty I had the feeling they all were there. I will never forget what the people here in Germany have done for me. The fans of Borussia Dortmund will remain in my heart forever. This jersey was my second skin and I showed that in every match even though I did not play good at all times. The other players and the people in the streets, they tell me: You have become an institution here, a legend a role model of how a player should treat his club. Foreign minister...there are so many words. Football-god...well that I am not in any case. But I can say I always fought like a soldier on the pitch.