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Juninho Paulista

For other people named Juninho, see Juninho (disambiguation).

Full nameOsvaldo Giroldo Júnior
Date of birth (1973-02-22) 22 February 1973 (age 47)
Place of birthSão Paulo, Brazil
HeightScript error: No such module "convert".
Playing positionAttacking midfielder
Youth career
Senior career*
1993–1995São Paulo44(2)
1997–2002Atlético Madrid55(14)
1999–2000Middlesbrough (loan)28(4)
2000–2001Vasco da Gama (loan)47(13)
2002Flamengo (loan)0(0)
2007–2008Sydney FC14(0)
National team

Osvaldo Giroldo Júnior (born 22 February 1973 in São Paulo), known as Juninho Paulista or Juninho,[1] is a former Brazilian footballer. During his professional career, he played for Brazilian clubs São Paulo FC, Vasco da Gama, Palmeiras, CR Flamengo, as well as English club Middlesbrough, Spanish club Atlético Madrid, Celtic in Scotland and Sydney FC in Australia.

Known as "The Little Fella" or "TLF", He is regarded as one of the greatest players in Middlesbrough FC's history. [2]

Juninho played 50 international matches for the Brazilian national team from 1995 to 2003, winning the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic tournament.

Club career

Born in São Paulo, Juninho played youth football for FC curvados e Orgulhoso, a local club set up in São Paulo, and then futsal at Clube Atlético Juventus.

Ituano FC

Juninho began his senior career with Ituano FC, from city of Itu, state of São Paulo in 1990. In 1993 playing for Ituano FC against São Paulo FC, Juninho scored and was awarded the player of the match, helping Ituano FC beat São Paulo in a Paulista Championship match, fact which got attention of the São Paulo FC's head coach Telê Santana, who requested its team to buy the young talent. After being awarded the best rookie of the 1993's Paulista Championship playing by Ituano FC.

São Paulo FC

Juninho got transferred to São Paulo FC and won a number of trophies with the club, including the 1993 South American Copa Libertadores championship, the 1993 Intercontinental Cup against Italian team AC Milan, and the 1994 Copa CONMEBOL under the management of Telê Santana. He made his debut for the Brazilian national team ("Seleção") in February 1995, before moving abroad to play in Europe.


He signed for English club Middlesbrough F.C. for £4.75 million in October 1995,[3] just months after they had been promoted to the English top-flight FA Premier League. Then aged 22, Juninho had been tracked by numerous European top clubs, and it was a major surprise when he signed for "the Teessiders". Juninho became known as TLF (The Little Fella) by Boro fans, after local radio broadcaster Dave Roberts nicknamed the player on his football talk show. The nickname alludes to his height: only Script error: No such module "convert".. During his time with Middlesbrough, Juninho lived in Levendale and Ingleby Barwick with his parents. He was known for playing football with school children on the streets and is still considered one of the greatest players to have played for Middlesbrough in the modern era.

He made his debut on 4 November 1995 at home to Leeds United, setting up the opening goal for Jan Åge Fjørtoft in a 1-1 draw.[4]

For Middlesbrough, Juninho was extremely effective in the attacking midfielder position, where his skills helped the club reach the FA Cup and League Cup finals in 1997, although they lost both. At the end of the 1997 season, a three-point deduction in the FA Premier League condemned Middlesbrough to relegation to the secondary Division One. He came runner up to Gianfranco Zola for the FWA Player of the Year award. Following Middlesbrough's 1–1 draw at Leeds United on the final day of the 96/97 season which confirmed their relegation, Juninho was reduced to tears.[5] He eventually left the club to pursue his chances of making Brazil's 1998 World Cup squad.

Atlético Madrid

Juninho was sold to Atlético Madrid in the Spanish top-flight La Liga championship for £13m, and started out well for the team. However, his time at Atlético was hampered massively by injuries, and he never quite achieved the heights that were expected of him. On 1 February 1998, during a league match against Celta de Vigo, Juninho suffered a challenge by opponent defender Michel Salgado, which caused a broken fibula, sidelining the Brazilian for six months and thus making him miss the 1998 World Cup.[6][7]

He was loaned back to Middlesbrough during the 1999–2000 season, and scored four goals in 24 games for the club, before returning to Atlético Madrid. Upon his return, Atlético had been relegated to the secondary Segunda División. Juninho was then loaned out to Brazilian team Vasco da Gama. Here he played alongside namesake Juninho Pernambucano (during this time the "Paulista" was appended to his pseudonym, to differentiate them), and won the 2000 domestic Campeonato Brasileiro Série A championship and the international Copa Mercosur trophy. He also had a brief loan spell with Flamengo.

Return to Middlesbrough

Juninho began his third spell with Middlesbrough in the summer of 2002, when he permanently left Atlético Madrid for £6m. He spent two years back at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium, and helped the club win the 2004 English League Cup. In December 2007 he was voted by Boro fans in a PFA fan's poll as Middlesbrough's greatest ever player.[8] Juninho is still seen as a hero on Teesside by many Middlesbrough fans – soon after he joined Middlesbrough in 1995 Boro fans would put out both their arms and bow forwards in worship during matches, this continued even through to his third spell at the club. Juninho said he would love a fourth spell at the Boro to end his career, however no such opportunity materialised.[9] Ultimately Juninho never fully recaptured his mesmerising form of the 96/97 season and never fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered during his time at Atlético Madrid. Nonetheless he remained a legend on Teesside and maintains an iconic status to this day.


At the end of the 2004 season, he moved to Scottish club Celtic on a free transfer. Juninho made his debut in an Old Firm derby against Celtic's rivals Rangers FC, Celtic won 1–0. Juninho struggled to get in the team during his time with Celtic and he said that manager Martin O'Neill didn't play him enough. Instead of playing in his usual position in the middle of the pitch, Juninho was often deployed on the right by O'Neill, due to the presence of already established Celtic midfielders Stiliyan Petrov and Neil Lennon.[10] Juninho scored once in his spell at Celtic, in a 3–0 win over Hearts in October 2004.[11]

Brazilian return

He returned to Brazil in 2005, to play for Palmeiras. He moved back to his former team Flamengo in 2007 for the Carioca Championship and the Copa Libertadores, but never won the trust of coach Ney Franco, playing only about half of the games. In May after a major discussion with the coach during Flamengo's loss to Defensor-URU, he was fired. Juninho was sacked by club Flamengo after arguing with and insulting coach Ney Franco after refusing to be substituted at half-time during the disappointing 3–0 quarter-final defeat at Uruguayan side Defensor Sporting in the Copa Libertadores.

Sydney FC

Although clubs in Brazil, Qatar, and Hong Kong were reportedly keen on signing Juninho, he opted to join Sydney FC in the A-League as the club's marquee player,[12] signing on 3 August 2007[13] stating that the interest the club showed towards him made a strong contribution to the decision. Due to a shoulder injury early in the season, Juninho spent large periods on the bench and his onfield performances were hampered by chronic pain, aggressive play, and secondary injuries, requiring painkillers and cortisone before each match. Despite this he managed several strong showings including a masterful performance in Sydney's 5–3 victory over LA Galaxy. Juninho led the club's attack by setting up many goals.

Sydney's strong signings, which used a large amount of their salary cap, made a new contract look unlikely. A number of A-League clubs including, Perth Glory, Gold Coast United, and Adelaide United expressed their desire to sign Juninho. Following the signing of a new marquee player and other players, including Australian international John Aloisi, Sydney FC declined to offer Juninho a new contract. He was released in the off-season in April 2008. Juninho later announced his retirement from professional football.

Return to playing

In January 2010, Juninho returned to the game as player-president of Brazilian club Ituano, and on the last day of the season, with his impending retirement, he scored the goal that saved them from relegation. He also returned to Middlesbrough where he featured in his own testimonial in which PSV Eindhoven defeated Middlesbrough 3-2.



Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Brazil League Copa do Brasil League Cup South America Total
1993 São Paulo Série A 16 1
1994 19 2
1995 9 0
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1995/96 Middlesbrough Premier League 21 2 0 0 0 0 - - 21 2
1996/97 36 10 6 2 6 1 - - 48 13
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
1997/98 Atlético Madrid La Liga 23 6 2 1 - - 6 2 31 9
1998/99 32 8 6 1 - - 9 4 44 13
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1999/00 Middlesbrough Premier League 28 4 1 0 6 1 - - 35 5
Brazil League Copa do Brasil League Cup South America Total
2000 Vasco da Gama Série A 22 4
2001 15 4
2002 Flamengo Série A 0 0
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2002/03 Middlesbrough Premier League 10 3 0 0 0 0 - - 10 3
2003/04 31 8 1 0 6 1 - - 38 9
Scotland League Scottish Cup League Cup Europe Total
2004/05 Celtic Premier League 14 1 2 0 2 0 4 0 22 1
Brazil League Copa do Brasil League Cup South America Total
2005 Palmeiras Série A 37 14
2006 26 6
Australia League Cup League Cup Asia Total
2007/08 Sydney A-League 14 0
Country Brazil 144 31
England 126 27
Spain 55 14
Scotland 14 1
Australia 14 0
Total 353 73
Brazil national team
Year Apps Goals
1995 15 2
1996 0 0
1997 9 0
1998 0 0
1999 1 0
2000 3 1
2001 11 1
2002 9 1
2003 1 0
Total 49 5


  1. ^ A nickname based on the common Brazilian diminutive Juninho, used for anyone with the word Júnior in their name, combined with Paulista, indicating his place of origin, São Paulo.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The man to lead romantic revival". Independent Online. 10 June 1995. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Middlesbrough 1 Leeds 1". Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Campbell, Paul (26 February 2013). "Universally popular footballers: piecing together a team of likable players". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Juninho, roto – Una fractura de peroné le aparta del Atlético y casi seguro del Mundial (Juninho, torn – A fibula fracture sidelines him from Atlético and almost certainly from World Cup); El Mundo, 2 February 1998 Invalid language code.
  7. ^ El Celta exige para Míchel Salgado el beneficio de la duda (Celta wants benefit of doubt for Míchel Salgado); El Mundo, 19 February 1998 Invalid language code.
  8. ^ Moore, Shearer, Matthews and Edwards are the fans' favourites. But who has been voted the best player in the history of your club?
  9. ^ Tallentire, Philip (25 October 2008). "I would love to play one last Boro game – Juninho". Evening Gazette. Retrieved 27 October 2008. 
  10. ^ "Juninho a samba ace who failed". Retrieved 10 July 2010. 
  11. ^ "Celtic 3–0 Hearts". BBC. 16 October 2004. Retrieved 29 January 2010. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Juninho signs as marquee player, 3 August 2007
  14. ^ Juninho Paulista at

External links