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On This Day (12 July 2009): Sunderland sign Paraguay captain on a free transfer!

He’s captain of his country and we signed him on a free... he’s better than Rio and he’s better than Terry!

Photo by Steve Drew - PA Images via Getty Images

Ooooooooooh, Da Silva

He’s our defender

From Paraguay

He’s captain of his country and we signed him on a free

He’s better than Rio and he’s better than Terry

Ooooooooooh, Da Silva...


Twelve years ago today, Sunderland announced the signing of Paraguayan central defender Paulo Da Silva on a free transfer following the expiration of his contract with Mexican side Deportivo Toluca.

The 29-year-old Paraguay captain signed a three-year deal, and apparently turned down Tottenham Hotspur in order to become Steve Bruce’s second signing as Sunderland manager.

Speaking about the move, Steve Bruce said:

I’m delighted to have signed a player of Paulo’s experience.

He is captain of his country and has played at the highest level in South America so will bring leadership qualities to our side.

I was actually really excited about this one at the time. I’m not really sure why - he wasn’t a well-known, big name, and it wasn’t like we had splashed the cash.

I guess, crudely, it was probably because he was from a country we don’t usually recruit from - after all, it’s not every day that you sign the captain of an international team.

As much as we had hoped it would work out here for auld Paulo, it didn’t.

He struggled to adapt to life in the north east and struggled to force his way into Steve Bruce’s side, playing a bit-part role behind Michael Turner, John Mensah and Anton Ferdinand.

His first month at the club was a frustrating one, with the player being made to wait until his visa application was granted before he could play, and perhaps that slow start saw him slip down the pecking order ever so slightly.

He eventually made his debut in a game away at Norwich in the League Cup, with the Lads running out as 4-1 winners - a game you might remember best for Andy Reid absolutely running the show, and a mag in the home end sat with a face like a smacked arse cos Sunderland had ruined his big day out.

Paulo had a cracking game that night if I recall, and played the full 90 minutes.

However, he had to wait a bit to get a run out in the league, and didn’t feature until he came on as a sub when we beat Hull 4-1 at the Stadium of Light three weeks later.

Steve Bruce shielded the player and publicly noted the need to handle him carefully, using him sparingly and rotating him in and out of the side in a bid to help him settle to life in English football.

Sadly, he never did adapt fully and Bruce was reluctant to go ‘all in’ with him, keeping him around as backup in the two seasons that he was at the club.

He eventually left to sign for La Liga side Zaragoza, moving back to North America to play for Pachuca in Mexico after just a year in Spain.

Amazingly, he’s still playing professional football today at the age of 41, turning out for Paraguayan top flight outfit 12 de Octubre Football Club. Fit as a fiddle.

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