Dimas happy to ply trade in Barnsley's '˜humble city of hard workers'

Barnsley assistant head coach Dimas was born in South Africa and raised in Portugal, but a warm trademark smile is never far from his face when talk of England is raised.

Dimas says he is grateful that he and head coach Jose Morais have been given a big opportunity at Barnsley.

Back when this country hosted the European Championships in the summer of 1996, the displays of the Portugal defender, then at Benfica, helped earn him a move to Italian club Juventus.

Dimas – who featured in Portugal’s group opener against Denmark at Hillsborough – may have snubbed English interest to join Juve back in the day, but his fascination with the home of football has endured.

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A career in the game that has included stop-off points in Turkey, Belgium and France now has a new chapter in Barnsley and 49-year-old Dimas could not be happier.

He said: “In a five- or six-year period when I left Portugal for Juventus and outside, there were always some (English) teams interested. Especially after Euro 96 there were a few chances. But then Juventus came in and it was a priority at the time. That Euro 96 period was a good one for my footballing career at that time.

“I have always enjoyed football in England. A few years back, I was here at this (Oakwell) stadium to watch Portugal Under-23s. It is a small world and at that time I did not think I would be working here.

“But this is a club with great history and a humble city of hard workers. We did study it when we were handed the opportunity and are just thankful Barnsley gave us this opportunity.

“It is a club that has to be in a better position than at the moment. Obviously, (head coach) Jose (Morais) has worked in England before. I never had the dream of playing in England. It was always the best country where I think football is promoted in the best way. This is a big opportunity. Obviously a difficult one, but in life nothing is easy. This is where you have to be strong and we are strong.”

With immaculate English, a personable manner and a glittering footballing CV, it should come as no surprise that Reds players have quickly warmed to Dimas and also Morais, whose own portfolio is also eye-catching.

Individually the pair have sampled highs in the game with some of the most feted names in European football: Juve, Real Madrid, Benfica, Chelsea.

But their unpretentious, self-effacing attitude prevails as does their appetite for graft. As far as their achievements in football are concerned they are firmly in the past according to Dimas.

All that matters is the squad of players he and Morais are working with, a group with whom Dimas says they are willing to “go to the end of the world”.

On his career highlights, Dimas – a committed defender during his playing days albeit without the gifts of many of feted team-mates including the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Rui Costa and Alessandro Del Piero – said simply: “Winning... that is your favourite moment. In my first few years at Juventus we won nearly everything. Those are the moments I want to recover here. The only message I try to give to the new boys is that winning is important in football.

“We love the team. It is a solid team with positive things. We will work every day harder and harder for them to believe in themselves as we believe in everyone. Altogether, we can do something interesting.

“They are all very young and have ten to 15 years of their careers still to go. We want them to believe in themselves, be humble and have their feet on the floor. Then they can achieve great things.”