“I’m a warrior, not a poet!” Dante and Nizza, a love story

When he first lands on the French Riviera, Dante Bonfim Costa Santos is disoriented. It is August 22, 2016. Eight days earlier, there was an attack on the Promenade des Anglais: «Even today, when I walk, I stop to look at the garlands of flowers». The massacre is an open wound but there are those who still go to the airport, with a wig on their head, to wait for the new purchase: “I don’t go unnoticed with this hair“. Also for this reason, a friend of his launches a line of clothes and Dante is his testimonial. Imagine a Brazilian in the sunniest European city in Europe, with a contagious smile: «It’s cold in Germany, it’s beautiful here. How many laughs with my father ». Father, a painter by profession, who chose his name: “I don’t know if he liked Dante, Italian. And then I am a warrior, not a poet“. Father who leaves his family when Dante is little: “I live with my mother and my sister, it wasn’t easy.” So, at the first audition, he is forced to sell his Nintendo 64 to pay the bus ticket. Not just any treats. From Bahia to Panama, 36 hours by road.

Dante and Nizza, a love story

Comme une histoire d’amour. Like a love story. It is Thursday when, with these exact words, Dante announces an annual contract renewal with Nice. He is the captain of the Rossoneri, the surprise of this Ligue 1 season. He is 28 years old. He has lived through many. On the bench was Lucien Favre, on the pitch Mario Balotelli: “I thought he was much crazier.” In the first year, with Dante, Nizza is winter champion and ends the 2016/17 season with a record: 78 points and third place in the standings. It is worth the Champions League. But in the playoffs there is Napoli, which wins 2-0 at home and 2-0 away. Judgment. Dante goes to the Europa League, catches Lazio and scores at Zulte Waregem. The following year there is Vieira and at 35 the Brazilian has the captain’s armband on his arm. From summer 2019, however, the number changes. First he has 31, «why at the time of Lille I wanted 13 and they didn’t give it to me, so now I’ll take it in reverse numbers. ‘ Then he chooses the 4. On November 2, 2020 ruptures the cruciate ligament of the left knee. Dante is 37 years old and is in the last year of his contract. End?

“He’s my captain”

Obviously not. While the Vieira project was wrecked on the pitch, and the Nice coach became the Romanian Adrian Ursea, in January the club hastily bought two defenders: Jean-Clair Todibo and William Saliba. The first was redeemed in the summer, the second ended up with the hated rivals of Marseille. And Dante is back on the pitch, in the summer preseason. Successful recovery. On the Nice bench is Christophe Galtier, fresh from the French championship won with Lille. When he sees Dante for the first time, he exclaims: “He is my captain“. Comman-Dante. It is not a useless play on words. For some time Fabrice Mauro, the speaker of the Allianz Riviera, has announced the Brazilian. Idol of the fans: “We are in Nice, we are in one of the most beautiful places in the world“. Mauro has an extra reason to shout the name to the sky of the Côte d’Azur Comman-Dante. Because on Thursday, as mentioned, the Brazilian announced the extension of his contract with Nice and did so in the press conference before the match with Paris Saint-Germain, tonight. PSG that came out of the French Cup with Nice. On penalties. Dante kicked one with this spoon …

Champions and Mineiraço

To anyone who asked him why he had accepted Nizza, Dante replied: «I was missing something. I had been in Germany for eight years. I wanted to experience another culture, other people, another country“. Wrong. Because Dante already plays in France from 2004 to 2006, in Claude Puel’s Lille. Loans in Belgium, Charleroi and Standard Liège, then in 2008 Borussia Mönchengladbach. If you add Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg together, Dante has over 200 Bundesliga appearances. He has won three German championships and one Champions League, alongside his friend Franck Ribéry. He also has 13 appearances with the Seleçao Brazilian, but it is a sore chapter. One is the Mineiraço, the famous 7-1 suffered by Germany on 8 July 2014: «That night I cried. Playing the semifinal was nice, but many have turned their backs on me“. Patience. He leaves again. Proper nutrition, healthy sleep – between 10 and 11 hours of sleep a day -, then the banjothe smile and the usual hair: even so the love story between Dante and Nizza continues.