Welcome back to Where Are They Now? where, this week, I’ve been inspired by my very own bit of writing on Tales from Saturday. At risk of sounding like a lazy Twitter account, in case you missed it I started a new series called The Premier League Years that featured a game between Derby and Newcastle from 2007/08.
Said game reminded me of one of the worst defenders to ever grace the Premier League. A man so incompetent his name could be used as a verb for horrible defending all over the world. A man so slow his personal best in the 100 metres was three days. That man was Claudio Cacapa.
Incredibly, Cacapa had a bit of a reputation for being a decent defender. He was a three time Brazilian international that had made his name at Atletico Mineiro before Lyon snapped him up in 2001. He would become captain of the club in 2002 and lead the club to another five consecutive league titles as well as collecting French citizenship. So it only made complete sense for him to let his contract run down in 2007 and leave to join Big Sam’s revolution at St. James’ Park.
His arrival was a bit low-key considering nobody really knew who he was. Sure, we all knew who Lyon were and what they were doing in France but their actual players were somewhat of a mystery. Big Claudio would make his debut as a last minute substitute and enter the history books as Newcastle’s 1000th player. He would make an OK start and even scored a goal against Spurs.
Then Cacapa struck. Newcastle conspired to lose 4-1 at home to Portsmouth with Cacapa ensuring they were three down after just fifteen minutes or so. It was a remarkable effort from the Brazilian who was also subbed off after just 18 minutes, a fact made all the stranger by Allardyce saying he should never have played as he was carrying a hamstring injury. You couldn’t make it up.
Now, Wikipedia tells me Claudio made a ‘triumphant’ return as he was named Man of the Match in a win over Fulham. Actual accounts say that while he was MotM in an unwatchable game against a side that barely stayed in the league that season, nobody has any idea how. He would remain a part of the side even under Kevin Keegan but an injury for the big man saw Newcastle move clear of danger thanks to a seven game unbeaten run. Hardly coincidental.
2008/09 was a disaster for Newcastle thanks in no small part to Cacapa managing to play six times with the Toon only winning once. He was so bad that he didn’t even play under Joe Kinnear and was released in 2009.
He would return to Brazil to play for Cruzeiro for 18 months followed by spells with water company Evian (helping them win Ligue 2) and Avai before retiring in 2012. He also had a short stint managing Brazil’s U15 side which was as successful as his Newcastle career.
As always, we end with a couple of YouTube clips of our selected ‘star’. This week, we begin with Claudio and Brazilian national hero Fred playing pool (badly).
Fred jogando sinuca contra amigo caçapa na época do Lyon. Clipe do programa ‘Nas Pegadas dos Campeoes’. Espn-Brasil.
And here’s a montage with a lying description of Cacapa as an “excelent football player”. Check out some of that “excelence”.