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What Ever Happened to Denilson?

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Ahead of Friday's friendly against Real Betis, Chris takes a look back at the Brazilian winger, former world record transfer holder and Real Betis winger who almost became a Wanderer.

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Denílson de Oliveira Araújo, Denilson to you and me (but presumably not his mother), retired from professional football in April 2010. A Brazilian left winger, he began his career in his native country starring for São Paulo before heading to Europe where his career ended in Greece at AO Kavala.

Denilson made exactly fifty appearances for his first club, making his debut as a fresh-faced and gangly 17 year old in the 1994 Copa CONMEBOL, coming away with a winners medal from the competition which also contained names such as Huracan of Argentina, Danubio of Uruguay and Peru's Sporting Cristal, former club of famed trumpet expert Nolberto Solano.

His performances in the competition brought his name to a wider audience, and went a long way to prompting Bolton Wanderer's opponents in Friday's friendly, Real Betis, to shove a humongous £21.5m bid under the nose of the São Paulo president, who presumably took all of 21.5 microseconds to snap his Spanish counterpart's hand off. The fee for the left winger made him the most expensive transfer in the history of the game, overtaking compatriot and personal favourite of mine, Ronaldo, who had commanded a fee of £19.5m when moving from Barcelona to Internazionale of Milan a year earlier. A far cry from 1928 when David Jack left Bolton Wanderers for Arsenal in a deal worth an obscene £10,890.

Denilson would go on to make almost 200 appearances for Real Betis, as well as appearing for Brazil in the 1998 World Cup in France, where he would earn a runners' up medal. His career in Spain was far from a success hwoever, with the huge fee proving a weight round his neck - if you imagine how Superman reacted when given the Kryptonite necklace by Lex Luthor in Superman: The Movie then you're part way there. Denilson was loaned out by Betis in 2000 to Brazilian side Flamengo, who counted Edmundo (the man who got a chimp drunk) and Romario amongst his teammates.

His career took on a nomadic form following his departure for France, and Bordeaux in 2005 for £4m. Quite the drop. He would stay no more than a season in France, UAE, MLS with FC Dallas, Brazil, Vietnam, and finally Greece, before retiring in 2010.

He crossed paths with Bolton Wanderers in January 2009. Bolton manager and full time berk Gary Megson brought the then 31 year old winger over for a trial following his release from Brazilian side Palmeiras.

However his time in Lancashire proved short, as he left the club within a week and without signing a permanent deal - perhaps he knew that Megson was a rum'un. Following the decision to part ways, the Bolton Wanderers manager said:

"Denilson has been an absolute credit, but we won't be taking it any further."

The player's agent and brother, Denis de Oliveira Araujo (presumably known as Dennis to his mum), had previously been hopeful that his brother would secure a longer-term stay at the Reebok Stadium.

He said:

"He has undergone several tests and was highly praised by the staff.

"They said that, despite not playing for a month, he has the same conditions of the other players.

"Bolton board members told us that Denilson's situation has to be settled on Wednesday and I am optimistic.

"If they do not give us an answer, then I am going to consider that the negotiation is over and, in this case, we have other proposal from another European club."

However it was not to be, and Denilson headed to Vietnam, presumably to follow up his interest in the fact that Vietnam has a number of UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites, though it may have just been for the money.