The World Cup starlet that almost graced Tayside

By Keiran Fleming

During the 1986 Mexico World Cup the eyes of the globe were on Maradona, however, there was another breakthrough star making his name on the international stage, Brazilian Josimar.

Josimar wasn’t even meant to be part of the squad, in fact he was uncapped and also unemployed when he was called up. The fullback burst onto the scene with two wonder goals.

His first was against arguably one of the most iconic keepers of all time, Northern Ireland’s Pat Jennings. Josimar picked the ball up from 30 yards out and unleashed a shot with power and accuracy over the top of the keeper into the opposite corner.

His second goal of the tournament was equally magnificent. In a moment of brilliance against Poland, Josimar received the ball on the edge of the area and easily dribbled past one opponent before cheekily fooling another with a dummy. Before reaching the byline he launched a strike, from what seemed an impossible angle, across goal into the other side of the net.

After the World Cup he rightfully took his place in the team of the competition and was named the best right back in the world by Fifa. The media in his homeland even dubbed him “The unemployed hero”. So how did the Brazillian king of Mexico almost grace Scottish football?

Well lets just say that his career peaked in 1986. The fame and spotlight had an affect on Josimar. Not long after his stunning display in Mexico he ended up in prison after hitting a prostitute. The prostitute racially abused the right back after he attempted to negotiate a cheaper price for an orgy that already happened.

After a couple years of controversy Josimar was looking for a fresh start in Europe and he wasn’t short of suitors. Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were offered the fullback along with numerous other leading European teams, however, it was Jim McLean’s Dundee United who were on the brink of signing the Brazillian.

It was so close to happening that the Glasgow Herald published an interview with then Botafogo Vice-President Emil Pinhiero who said they had received a serious bid for the right-back from Scottish Club Dundee United. A photo which was rumored to be published in a tabloid pictured Josimar in a kilt. The deal fell through. All though there is no documented reason into why the move never came about; it is widely believed that the coverage of the move in Scotland’s newspapers gave Josimar cold feet. The fact the move never happened apparently enraged Jim McLean as he was a fingertip away from putting one of the icons of the 1986 World Cup in a tangerine shirt.

The Tayside move was dead in the water but Josimar did get his move to Europe with Sevilla. Sadly the move didn’t help him control his bad habits as he was arrested for cocaine possession during his time playing in Spain.

Josimar’s career acts as a cautionary tale for those who are quickly thrown into the spotlight. He was once considered the best right-back in the world but he buried that potential in cocaine and alcohol.

Maybe if he was under the watchful eye of McLean at Tannadice he would have seen a renaissance that would have allowed to fully reach his potential. Then again some people are not built for the fame of being a footballer and his downward spiral may have just continued in Scotland.

This story does have somewhat of a happy ending. Josimar has turned his life around and is currently the assistant coach of his boyhood club Botafogo.

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