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30 Years without Dener: The Eternal Star

30 anos sem Dener

On April 19, 2024, we marked 30 years without Dener.

Many young people from the new generations may not be aware of who this exceptional footballer was, whose life was cut short in a tragic car accident when he was at the peak of his career.

Join us as we trace the player’s trajectory, as well as anecdotes and trivia about him.

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Brief Biography of Dener

Dener Augusto de Souza, or simply Dener, was born on April 2, 1971, in the vast São Paulo, Brazil.

Like most of the underprivileged population of São Paulo at that time, Dener lived in a very poor environment in the Jardim Ede neighborhood, in the North Zone of the capital.

He lost his father when he was only 8 years old, having to deal with adversities from a very young age.

But being a reflection of the Brazilian people and their “brasilidade” (Brazilian essence), he fought. He studied and worked to help support his family.

Moreover, of course, he was an excellent futsal player.

His first steps in football were with Portuguesa in 1982, at the age of just 11. He stayed there for a few years until he had to give up football.

As we know, football is not lucrative for everyone. In less developed countries, young people have to make a very clear choice at a young age about which path to take in their lives.

The sport, a dream for many, is often put aside. This is so they can help with household expenses, whether through formal or informal jobs.

This was the case with Dener.

Nevertheless, he was destined to become a player. He returned to the fields in 1988, again with Portuguesa, after a brief stint with São Paulo. His speed and dribbling skills impressed everyone, and the result could not be different.

He showcased his football to Brazil in 1991, in the famous São Paulo Junior Football Cup.

As mentioned in previous articles, the São Paulo Junior Football Cup, or Copinha, is a competition of immeasurable importance to Brazilian football. In it, young athletes gain national prominence.

That’s what happened with Dener that year. He, along with his teammates, led Portuguesa to their first title in the competition.

Dener was elected the tournament’s star player, entering the professional ranks with a lot of respect within the club.

Há 30 anos, Dener marcava seu primeiro gol como profissional

Image: Public Domain

Professional Career

The year after his astounding performance in the Copinha, Dener continued his brief but beautiful professional career.

He had already made his professional debut in 1989.

Playing for Portuguesa, the popular “Lusa,” he was the embodiment of Brazilian football. Displaying joy and talent, he was extremely fast and skilled at dribbling.

He could get out of unimaginable situations. Defenders thought they had dispossessed him, but before they knew it, Dener was already on his way to the goal.

Playing wide on the wing or even as a second striker, Dener relied heavily on his ball control to reach the opponent’s goal.

He had an incredible array of dribbles, ranging from short cuts to deep taps to leave the defenders behind in the race.

His great performances attracted interest from bigger clubs.

Soon, in 1993, he was loaned to Grêmio for the Gaúcho Championship. He and Grêmio experienced a series of memorable moments together.

The famous Copinha title won by Portuguesa was achieved against Grêmio, with a 4-0 victory for Lusa.

It was also against Grêmio that he made his debut in 1989, as mentioned above.

As if that weren’t enough, it was with Grêmio that he won his first professional title, the 1993 Gauchão.

After the state championship, he returned to Portuguesa and finished the Brazilian Championship of that year in 9th place. A great performance from the traditional, yet modest, São Paulo team.

In 1994, Dener was loaned again for the state championship, this time to Vasco da Gama.

He continued his winning streak and became the Champion of the Guanabara Cup.

As if that weren’t enough, he also had a stint with the Brazilian national team, playing two matches.

One of the most curious points, and undoubtedly an expression of Dener’s talent, was the friendly match between Vasco da Gama and Newell’s Old Boys.

The Argentine team, as we know, boasts having produced Lionel Messi, as well as having had Diego Armando Maradona on its roster.

On that occasion, Maradona had the chance to witness Dener’s football up close.

The eternal Argentine idol was amazed by the young dribbler’s ability and, at the end of the match, congratulated him for his great performance.

Dener was already attracting attention from foreign football, especially from Stuttgart, Germany.

It was on a trip to São Paulo to visit his family and discuss this possibility that he suffered the accident that ended his life.

Futebol Nostálgico! on X: "Dener no @Gremio em 1993. Nostálgico! https://t.co/Og5FFfxaKP" / X

Image: Reproduction X

The Tragic Accident

After so many years of suffering in his life, everything was going positively for Dener.

Able to take care of his family like never before, he was a player valued by the clubs he played for and desired by others.

His performance on the field was excellent, earning him a place even in the Brazilian national team.

However, there are things that cannot be explained logically.

Around 5:15 a.m. on April 19, Otto Gomes Miranda, Dener’s friend, was driving his car along Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, in Rio de Janeiro.

They were returning from a trip to São Paulo, to visit family and discuss Stuttgart’s interest.

However, in a fraction of a second, Otto lost control of the vehicle and hit a tree by the lagoon.

According to the forensic investigation, Dener was in the passenger seat, with the seat slightly reclined. The impact, which occurred at high speed, caused the player to be asphyxiated by the seat belt, which was at neck height. Furthermore, his head hit the ceiling.

Later, Otto admitted to falling asleep at the wheel and losing control of the car. He survived, Dener did not.

That marked not only the end of his career but also the life of a young man. With an impeccable character confirmed by family and colleagues, he is one of those cases where so many divine questions are put to the test.

On our part, it is up to us to pass on to future generations the importance of Dener in sports, as well as to raise awareness among the population that improper use of seat belts can have a very high price.

Thank you, Dener. We’ll keep your unforgettable plays in our memory.

Eclipse em que Dener morreu é resgatado por filhos do craque do Vasco - Jornal do Carro - Estadão

Image: Delfim Vieira/AE

Written by Vitor F L Miller.

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