Denílson, full name Denílson de Oliveira Araújo, (born August 24 1977 in Diadema, Brazil) is a football winger, who in 1998 became the most expensive footballer in the world. He is currently playing for Palmeiras.
A player of outstanding close control and dexterity, Denílson is renowned for his 'stand still' stepovers, with many referring to the skill as "the Denílson". In interviews, Denílson is known for talking plainly. In a 2003 interview with Wanderley Nogueira, Denílson offered some advice to Brazil’s younger prospects, like Gil, Robinho and Kaká, suggesting that they should avoid thinking about money, and focus instead on the joy of playing football in a great footballing centre, ironically despite his wage negotiations and exit to Saudi Arabia only a few years later.
Denílson broke the world record transfer fee when Real Betis paid São Paulo US $32 million for his services. Denílson had been with São Paulo since 1995. He earned his pricetag by being considered one of the most promising footballers of his day. He had a superb display in the 1997 Copa América. Denílson has always been known for his amazing trickery; modern-day star Cristiano Ronaldo's adeptness at trickery can be compared to that of Denilson. Sadly his full potential was never reached as he seems to have suffered from a propensity to hold on to the ball for too long, thus earning a reputation as a selfish player.
In 1999/2000, after Real Betis remarkably had been relegated to the Segunda División, Denílson went on a brief loan to Flamengo. After becoming a World Cup winner in 2002, Real Betis sold the Brazilian in 2005 to French club Bordeaux for an undisclosed amount, four seasons before his contract was due to expire. His performance in the Seville club had been disappointing and most fans considered him a liability at this stage. At the time of the transfer, he was no longer included in the Betis squad.
Despite a slow start at Bordeaux, Denilson managed to find his form in the second part of the season, but his excessively high wage demands prevented the French club from extending his contract. His contract expired in 2006, and he had been linked with free transfers to Tottenham Hotspur, Vestel Manisaspor and Celtic. Even with UEFA Champions League football next season, Bordeaux struggled to match the winger's wage demands, and he left to sign for Saudi Arabia's Al-Nasr. After making only 15 appearances with the club, Denilson negotiated a move to FC Dallas of Major League Soccer, becoming FC Dallas' designated player. On September 1st, Denilson made his MLS debut, entering in the 55th minute against DC United On September 8th, Denilson made his first MLS start as FC Dallas hosted Toronto FC at Pizza Hut Park. Denilson scored his first MLS goal off a penalty kick in the 36th minute of the match; that goal stood up to be the winner as FC Dallas defeated TFC by a 2-nil score line. He also picked up a yellow card in the 70th minute of that match for a tackle from behind.
After scoring only 1 goal with zero assists in 7 matches, Denilson was excluded from Dallas' squad for their appearance in the final of the US Open Cup, raising questions if he would remain with the club following the season. However, Open Cup regulations allow no more than five foreign players on the game-day roster. Further fueling speculation, head coach Steve Morrow said Denilson needs to earn a spot in the starting lineup like everybody else. Dallas goalkeeper Darío Sala said the team was having problems adjusting to a change in scheme to accommodate Denilson. Following the MLS season, FC Dallas decided not to pick up its option on Denílson for the 2008 season, but might renegotiate to bring back the winger at a lower salary. Denílson has said he enjoys Dallas and wants to stay with the club..
In February 2008, Denilson signed a 1 year performance-based contract with Palmeiras, hoping the club structure and experienced coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo are going to help him recover his best football as well as win titles.