Player Profile: Danny PDF Print E-mail

DannyFull name: Daniel Miguel Alves Gomes
Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: 7 August 1983
Birthplace: Caracas, Venezuela

“Did I ever think I’d play in Russia? No, never, but now I realise that coming here was the best thing I ever did,” admits Daniel Miguel Alves Gomes, on a curious career choice which has since paid rich dividends, with international recognition and a record-breaking transfer.

The remarkable story of the man known by his nickname, Danny, has an intriguing beginning. Born to Madeiran immigrants in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, his childhood was spent growing up in South America. But having inherited his love of the game from his Portuguese roots, Danny soon developed ambitions to make it as a footballer and, at the age of 15, he joined his family in returning to Madeira, where a young Danny set his sights on a professional football career.

A creative midfield player, Danny joined the youth academy of the largest club on the island, Maritimo, and his classy dribbling, quick footwork and precise passing soon caught the eye. Despite making only ten league appearances for Maritimo, during which he scored five times, the 18-year-old playmaker was promptly snapped up by one of Portugal’s famous ‘big three’, moving to Sporting in 2002.

Fierce competition

Although showing glimpses of his talent at Sporting, Danny was faced with fierce competition for a place in the Lions’ attack, having arrived following the club’s first league title win for almost twenty years. His first year at the club saw him attempting to make an impact on a squad already containing the likes of Ricardo Quaresma, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sa Pinto, Joao Pinto and Mario Jardel.

Having struggled to establish himself in Laszlo Boloni’s plans, Danny returned to Maritimo on loan for the 2003/04 campaign, although he largely failed to reproduce his best form during his second spell at the Estadio dos Barreiros. Back at Sporting for the following season, Danny made little progress, despite the departure of many of the club’s key players, and he was soon made surplus to requirements at Alvalade.

Now almost 22 and feeling that he needed new direction, Danny was one of several Portuguese footballers to be tempted to kick-start his career in Russia. Along with experienced internationals Costinha and Maniche, he made the switch to Dynamo Moscow in 2005, as the capital club spent vast amounts of money on trying to establish themselves as a premier force in an increasingly competitive domestic Russian game.

Defying the odds

Unlike Maniche and Costinha, both of whom fell foul of club authority figures and returned to Western Europe within a year, Danny thrived in the Russian Premier League. Dynamo finished the 2005 season in 9th place, but Danny defied the underperformance of his team-mates to earn the Dynamo Player of the Year award at the end of the year.

While Dynamo’s fortunes rarely looked like improving, battling relegation before slumping to a 14th place finish the following campaign, Danny’s reputation among the country’s football observers continued to grow. Playing as the team’s main creative outlet, the Portuguese was outstanding as he inspired his side to a much-improved 6th place during the 2007 campaign.

Word of Danny’s progress in Russia spread back to his homeland, and halfway through the 2008 Russian league season, during which Dynamo had broken into the top three, he was called into the Portuguese squad by new boss Carlos Queiroz, making his debut in his country’s 5-0 victory over the Faeroe Islands in August.

Queiroz was not the only important football figure to have been impressed with Danny’s development. Rumours of a bid from domestic champions Zenit St. Petersburg had been growing over the opening months of the season, and shortly after making his international bow, Dick Advocaat’s side paid a Russian record 30m euros to activate Danny’s buyout clause and make him one of the most expensive Portuguese footballers of all time.

Dazzling debut

On his arrival at Zenit, Advocaat lauded Danny as “the best midfielder in Russia” and the newly-capped Portugal international made a dream debut with a goal and Man-of-the-Match performance in his side’s 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the European Supercup at the end of August.

With his prime years still ahead, Danny has promised those in his homeland still bemused by his rapid rise to stardom that there is plenty more to come, and given the rate of his recent progress, the intriguing story of one of Portuguese football’s forgotten men looks to have only just begun.

by Sean Gillen (26/09/2008)

Dynamo Moscow9717
Zenit St Petersburg**2910

* League appearances only

** Up to 1 March 2009

Comments (1)
Starting Probability
1 Thursday, 03 June 2010 15:00
With so many midfield players at his disposal, who is Carlos Quieroz most likely to go with? What are Danny's chances? Is he a substitute at best? Who did Mr Quieroz prefer in the recent games?

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