Francisco Ernami Lima de Silva, better known as Mirandinha, was the first Brazilian to play in England.
Mirandinha joined Newcastle United from Brazilian side Palmeiras in August 1987 for a then impressive £575,000.
The ‘Geedy One’ only stayed at Newcastle for two seasons before returning to Palmeiras. Mirandinha got his nickname for failing to pass to teammates during his time at St James’ Park.
Mirandinha, born 2 July 1959 in Brasilia, was one of 11 children and worked down a salt mine before his football career got started.
He told FourFourTwo magazine: “For a humble boy raised working in the salt mines in north east Brazil, playing in England was never in my thoughts. In 1987, I was playing for Palmeiras and it looked like I was going to sign for America in Mexico. But before I could, I was called up to the national team to play in the Stanley Rous Cup, in England.
“I scored the equalizer at Wembley in the 1-1 draw against England and was man of the match in a 2-0 win against Scotland. After my performances for Brazil, Newcastle entered the race to sign me and doubled America’s offer. Palmeiras shipped me to Europe without blinking.”
Mirandinha made a total of 4 appearances for Brazil and the goal against England at Wembley was his only. The striker faced critics in England that believed he ‘wouldn’t like the cold’ and that he would struggle to adapt to the English game.
He continued: “My first season in Tyneside was fantastic. I scored against Liverpool, Manchester United and many others. The team was great and we had Paul Gascoigne beginning his career.
“But the next season was hell. Gazza was sold and manager Willie McFaul fired. I was injured and the new coach, Jim Smith, clearly had a problem with me. We got relegated so they sent me back to Brazil. Later, when Sir John Hall took over and brought in Kevin Keegan I had the opportunity to return to Newcastle. And then I made the biggest mistake of my career: I chose to stay in Brazil. How I regret that decision…”
The striker made a total of 54 appearances for Newcastle, scoring 20 goals. He has in recent months admitted he is dreaming of a return to the club and he almost did just that, when Sir Bobby Robson was in charge at St James’ Park.
Mirandinha is currently working as a scout for Newcastle in Brazil.
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