FRISCO, Texas -- For FC Dallas, signing Brazilian soccer star Denilson is the equivalent of bringing in David Beckham. With the 30-year-old attacking midfielder's introduction Monday, the club's owner said it was the biggest addition in team history and among the most important in the 12 years of Major League Soccer. "I think in the context of the MLS, only the signing of Beckham is bigger,'' said Clark Hunt, chairman of Hunt Sports Group, which owns FC Dallas. Denilson played last year in Saudi Arabia. He said the growing popularity of the MLS, aided by Beckham joining the LA Galaxy last month, helped lure him to North America. He said the continued pursuit of FC Dallas management won him over. "From the first moment, [FC Dallas] showed me a tremendous amount of attention in wanting me to be here,'' Denilson said through an interpreter. "I hope to fulfill all the expectations, not only of the coach and of the owners, but also the fans.'' The fifth international star signed by MLS this season under a new designated player rule, Denilson will have to wait for his work visa before he can suit up with his new teammates. FC Dallas coach Steve Morrow said that will take five to 10 business days. Denilson said his one-year move to Saudi Arabia was more to experience a different culture, and he hopes his move to the U.S. will last significantly longer. "As soccer players, we have these opportunities to learn more about our world,'' said Denilson, who cost Spain's Real Betis a then-record $36 million transfer fee as a 21-year-old in 1998. "I want to stay here for many years. I want to learn English and to be able to adapt to the culture, to everything that is available to me here.'' FC Dallas has never won the MLS Cup and is tied for second in the Western Conference. "We're very excited to have him,'' Morrow said. "He's obviously a player of immense quality, immense experience and immense ability.'' Denilson, whose full name is Denilson de Oliveira, starred on the international stage for Brazil for 10 years. He won the Golden Ball award as the best player in the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup and played key roles on Brazil's World Cup runner-up team in 1998 and its 2002 World Cup championship. In more than 60 appearances with the national team, Denilson has scored nine goals. He becomes the fourth World Cup winner to play in MLS, joining Lothar Matthaeus (Germany, 1990), Branco (Brazil, 1994) and Youri Djorkaeff (France, 1998). All three played for the MetroStars.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press