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Osvaldo Giroldo Júnior (born 22 February 1973 in São Paulo), known as Juninho Paulista or Juninho,[3] is a Brazilian former footballer who played as an attacking midfielder. 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.

Personal information
Full name Osvaldo Giroldo Júnior
Date of birth (1973-02-22) 22 February 1973 (age 46)
Place of birth São Paulo, Brazil
Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)[1]
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Brazil (staff)[2]
Youth career
1989–1992 Ituano
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1993–1995 São Paulo 44 (2)
1995–1997 Middlesbrough 57 (12)
1997–2002 Atlético Madrid 55 (14)
1999–2000Middlesbrough (loan) 28 (4)
2000–2001Vasco da Gama (loan) 47 (13)
2002Flamengo (loan) 0 (0)
2002–2004 Middlesbrough 35 (11)
2004–2005 Celtic 14 (1)
2005–2006 Palmeiras 63 (20)
2007 Flamengo 0 (0)
2007–2008 Sydney FC 14 (0)
2010 Ituano 2 (2)
Total 359 (79)
National team
1995–2003 Brazil 50 (5)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Known as "The Little Fella" or "TLF", he is regarded by many as one of the greatest players in Middlesbrough F.C.'s history.[4].

Juninho played 49 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 careerEdit

Born in São Paulo, Juninho played youth football for FC Curvados e Orgulhoso, a local club set up in São Paulo, and for Esporte Clube DER, an amateur team based in São Bernardo do Campo (SP), winning two youth municipal championship in a row, as well as futsal at Clube Atlético Juventus.

Ituano FCEdit

Juninho began his senior career with Ituano FC, a team in Itu, São Paulo, in 1990. In 1993, during a Campeonato Paulista match against reigning champions São Paulo FC, Juninho scored and was voted man of the match as Ituano secured an unlikely victory. This grabbed the attention of São Paulo FC's head coach Telê Santana, who requested that his team buy the young talent. Juninho went on to be voted "Rookie of the Year" that season.

São Paulo FCEdit

In 1993, Juninho was transferred to São Paulo FC, with whom he won a number of trophies, including the 1993 South American Copa Libertadores championship, the 1993 Intercontinental Cup against Italian team A.C. Milan, and the 1994 Copa CONMEBOL. He made his debut for the Brazilian national team ("Seleção") in February 1995, before moving abroad to play in Europe.


In October 1995, Juninho signed for English club Middlesbrough F.C. for £4.75 million,[5] 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 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in). 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.[6] Juninho proved extremely effective as an attacking midfielder, and his skills helped the club reach the final of both the FA Cup and League Cup in 1997, although they lost both. At the end of the 1997 season, a three-point deduction condemned Middlesbrough to relegation to the secondary Division One; following a 1–1 draw at Leeds United on the final day of the season which confirmed the club's relegation, Juninho was reduced to tears.[7] Despite the club's relegation, Juninho came runner up to Gianfranco Zola for the FWA Player of the Year award. Ultimately, Juninho left Middlesbrough to pursue his chances of making Brazil's 1998 World Cup squad.

Atlético MadridEdit

Juninho was sold to Atlético Madrid 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, a tackle by opponent defender Michel Salgado broke Juninho's fibula, sidelining the Brazilian for six months and thus making him miss the 1998 World Cup.[8][9]

Juninho was loaned back to Middlesbrough (who by then had been promoted back to the Premier League) 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 another Juninho, Juninho Pernambucano (the demonyms "Pernambucano" and "Paulista" had been used for some time 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 MiddlesbroughEdit

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 2003–04 Football League Cup, the team's first and so far only major honour. In December 2007 he was voted by Boro fans in a PFA fan's poll as Middlesbrough's greatest ever player.[10] 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.[11] Ultimately, although he did have a higher goals-to-games ratio during this period than in either of his previous two spells at the club, Juninho never fully recaptured his mesmerising form of the 1996–97 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, Juninho moved to Scottish club Celtic on a free transfer, making his debut in an Old Firm derby against Celtic's rivals Rangers F.C., which Celtic won 1–0. Juninho struggled to break into the first team during his time with Celtic, and complained 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.[12] Juninho scored only once in his spell at Celtic, in a 3–0 win over Hearts in October 2004.[13]

Brazilian returnEdit

Juninho 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 that year, Juninho was sacked after arguing with and insulting Franco after refusing to be substituted at half-time during a disappointing 3–0 quarter-final defeat at Uruguayan side Defensor Sporting in the Copa Libertadores.

Sydney FCEdit

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,[14] signing on 1 August 2007,[15] 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 on-field 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.

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 playingEdit

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.

Career statisticsEdit



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
1999–2000 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 5
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 b "Juninho Paulista". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman.
  2. ^ Caboclo takes over at CBF promising Brazilian reform and an end to corruption,, 17 June 2019
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Eric Paylor: Juninho meant the world to Boro and the fans". 4 December 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  5. ^ "The man to lead romantic revival". Independent Online. 10 June 1995. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  6. ^ "Middlesbrough 1 Leeds 1". Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  7. ^ Campbell, Paul (26 February 2013). "Universally popular footballers: piecing together a team of likable players". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  8. ^ 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 (in Spanish)
  9. ^ El Celta exige para Míchel Salgado el beneficio de la duda (Celta wants benefit of doubt for Míchel Salgado); El Mundo, 19 February 1998 (in Spanish)
  10. ^ "Moore, Shearer, Matthews and Edwards are the fans' favourites. But who has been voted the best player in the history of your club?".
  11. ^ Tallentire, Philip (25 October 2008). "I would love to play one last Boro game – Juninho". Evening Gazette. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  12. ^ "Juninho a samba ace who failed". Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  13. ^ "Celtic 3–0 Hearts". BBC. 16 October 2004. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  14. ^ "The Australian A-League – an introduction to the Marquee player system". Soccerlens. 16 March 2008.
  15. ^ Cockerill, Michael (1 August 2007). "Sydney FC end marquee mess with Juninho swoop". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  16. ^ a b c d e f "Juninho Paulista – Trophies". Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  17. ^ a b "Juninho: Overview". Premier League. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  18. ^ "South American Team of the Year". 16 January 2009. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.

External linksEdit