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Diego Ribas da Cunha
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From en.wikipedia.org

Diego Ribas da Cunha (born 28 February 1985 in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo), commonly known as just Diego, is a Brazilian footballer who plays for Italian Serie A giants Juventus and the Brazilian national team.

Club career

Santos

Diego was first signed by the São Paulo team Santos at the age of 12. Diego developed in the Santos youth system, making his first team debut at the age of 16 in the Rio-São Paulo Championship in 2002 and in the same year he won the domestic Campeonato Brasileiro championship. He, Robinho, Elano and Alex were known as a famous group when they played for Santos.

Porto

Diego was then signed by Portuguese club FC Porto in July 2004 as a replacement for the FC Barcelona-bound Deco. However, in 2005–06, Diego did not maintain a stable place in the Porto team under coach Co Adriaanse and he subsequently left Porto for Werder Bremen.

Werder Bremen

2006–07 season

In May 2006, Diego signed a contract with Werder Bremen until 2010 for a transfer fee of €6 million.

His first match for Werder Bremen came in the DFB-Ligapokal (League Cup). Werder Bremen won the cup beating Bayern Munich in the final on 5 August.

The 2006–07 Bundesliga season began well for Diego. He scored the first goal and set up two more for Bremen in their 4-2 win over Hannover 96, on 13 August. In his second match in the Bundesliga he set up both goals in the 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Thanks to his good performances in August, both in the Bundesliga and in the Premiere Ligapokal, Diego won the August Player of the Month award. As the Bundesliga season went on, Diego made several amazing performances and became one of the most valuable players for Werder Bremen, along with his team-mate Torsten Frings. They are called the "two motors of Bremen's midfield." In October 2006, he won a second Player of the Month award and again in December 2006. He was then named as the Best Player of the first half of the Bundesliga.

Werder Bremen finished in third place in Group A in the Champions League group stages, and they moved to the UEFA Cup, where they reached the semi-finals, beating AZ from the Netherlands in the quarter-finals, due in part to Diego's creative play.

On 15 April, Diego again played well, scoring in the 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund. Five days later, on 20 April, Bremen played against Alemannia Aachen. Although Diego's performance was good, he did not score until stoppage time when he scored from 62.5 metres, which later was elected as goal of the year. Bremen won the game 3-1 and topped the table with 60 points.

Following his good performances in the first half of the Bundesliga, Diego got called up to the Brazilian national football team in November.

After the 2006–07 season ended, Diego won the Bundesliga Player of the Season award organised by popular magazine Kicker. He got just over 50 percent of the votes. Unfortunately, his team did not win the Bundesliga after finishing 3rd in the table, behind champions VfB Stuttgart and Schalke 04.

2007–08 season

Diego started his season well, scoring a penalty on the first matchday. Diego gave many outstanding performances. He was crucial as Bremen got through to the Champions League's group phase. They beat Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb 3-2 in Zagreb, with Diego scoring two penalties.

On the first Champions League Group Stage matchday, Bremen lost 2-1 to Real Madrid, but Diego's performance aroused interest in Real Madrid's coach Bernd Schuster. But the stories were put to an end when Diego signed a new contract which would last until 2011.

After the loss to Real Madrid, Bremen faced VfB Stuttgart, the defending German champions, at home. Werder won 4-1, with Diego leading the midfield. Later on in the season, Bremen achieved a historical 8-1 win over Arminia Bielefeld, with Diego assisting three goals and scoring one himself.

Diego was voted Player of the Month in September.

He then scored two goals on the way to the UEFA Cup quarter final with Bremen.

2008-09 season

Diego's last season in Werder Bremen was the most successful, personally. Diego scored 20 goals in total (more than his two first seasons in the club), while although Bremen did finish just 10th in the bundesliga and was knocked out into uefa cup from the Champions League group stage, Diego has kept on a great performance throughout the season.

In Uefa Cup competition that season, Diego scored 6 goals, all in knockout stages (since Bremen dropped out from the Uefa Champions League into Uefa Cup's round of 32).

He scored against AC Milan the in round of 32, equalizing after 84' minutes, and assisting Claudio Pizarro in the second leg to one goal. He helped his team through the round of 16, And in the quarter final against Udinese, he brilliantly scored four goals out of six in the two meetings, and assisting one.

In the semi finals, after losing 1-0 in their hometown to Hamburg, Diego helped his team back in the second leg with an early equalizer to Ivica Olic's early critical goal. Later on that game, he Assisted a corner to Frank Baumann's 3rd Bremen goal. In that game, Diego received an unfortunate yellow card, preventing him from playing in the final, but still with a 3-2 heroic away win, he ended his Uefa Cup participation, leading Bremen to their first Uefa Cup final ever.

Without Diego in the 2009 Uefa Cup final, Bremen lost the game 2-1 in extra time to Ukranian team Shakhtar Donetsk.

In his last match with Bremen, Diego gave the assist to Mesut Özil's victory goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup final, to win the German Cup for the sixth time.

Juventus

On 26 May 2009, Diego signed a five-year contract to join Juventus at the end of the season. The fee paid to Bremen by Juventus is worth €24.5 million. The price can rise by a further €2.5 million in case of the fulfillment of established sports objectives in the next five years. Diego made his Juventus debut against the Korean side Seongnam where they won 3-0. In the first half Diego made the pass to Camoranesi whose pass followed up to a goal. Diego then scored in the second half and then subbed out at the 60th minute. On his Serie A debut he assisted Iaquinta's goal from a set-piece.

International career

Diego with the Brazilian national team.Diego made his international debut in April 2003 in a friendly match against Mexico. He was later included in Brazil U-23 team that competed in 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup alongside Santos' teammate Robinho. Although Brazil compete as an under-23 team, the international appearances and goals were recorded as FIFA acknowledge the tournament as senior-team matches. He appeared five times and scored two goals as Brazil U-23 lost out to Mexico senior-team in the final.

In 2004, Diego was called up for the Brazil national squad for the Copa América 2004, and he was instrumental in securing the tournament victory for Brazil when he scored in the penalty shootout against Argentina in the final.

However, due to his decline in performance with FC Porto between 2004 and 2006, he was often left out of the Brazil squad. He was also left out of the Brazil squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

After a move to Werder Bremen, he regained his form and subsequently recalled to the Brazil squad for a in November 2006. He was then included in Brazil's squad for Copa América 2007, which Brazil went on to win, once again defeating Argentina in the final.

Diego also participated with Brazil U-23 team for 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Brazil went on to achieve Bronze medal with a third place finish in the tournament.

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