Former Sao Paulo defender Flavio Donizete has revealed the extent of a cocaine addiction that led him to sell his most prized possession in order to fund his habit.
Donizete came through the ranks at Morumbi as a teenager, and his second season with the club coincided with one of the most successful years in Tricolor history.
He played a bit part throughout 2005 as Sao Paulo lifted the Paulista State Championship and the Copa Libertadores before crowning their achievement with victory over Liverpool in the Club World Cup.
The centre-back only made the cut for the tournament thanks to an injury to Leandro Bonfim and did not see any playing time as Mineiro’s solitary goal saw off the Reds.
His medal commemorating the victory, however, was sacrificed to feed an addiction that ruined what was one a promising career.
“I sold it to buy drugs. I sold it for 7,000 reais (around £2,875/$3,500),” he explained to Globoesporte.
“When I sold it the money came and I blew almost all of it on cocaine. The first delivery was 1,000 reais of cocaine. I used it in two days. The more money I had, the more drugs I wanted.
“After I was acquainted with cocaine, I lost everything else. Because at the start I was a moderate user. Until cocaine became more important in my life, I started to lose everything I had. Any money saved I used to buy drugs. I wouldn’t let myself be without drugs. Morning, afternoon and evening I had to take cocaine.
“Any money in my account, my possessions, I started losing them. I lost everything, except my wife, daughters and family, who are still with me even today.”
Following that glorious 2005 campaign, Donizete spent a succession of seasons on loan, representing the likes of Portuguesa, America and Nacional in Sao Paulo before he was finally released at the end of his contract in 2009.
The defender decided to take a few days off to relax and decide his future while partying with friends – a break that ultimately lasted six years before he resumed his professional career with a brief stint at Taboao da Serra.
“[My friends] would say to me, ‘snort!’. I would snort and at that moment the effects of drinking would wear off,” he recalled of those days of revelling.
“Every day I went out I would say, ‘today I can drink as late as I want because when I use cocaine the effect wears off. Let’s go find some’.
“I was never at home, it was just parties and drinking. There were times I wouldn’t go a single day without taking cocaine.
“I started to get fat through the drink, I picked up a knee injury and I couldn’t run. All that as well as the coke. So I said, ‘that’s it’. I gave up football for good.”
Now 36, Donizete is now free of drugs and working as a gardener in the town of Americana, in the interior of Sao Paulo state.
He still dreams of making a comeback as a professional, but laments the years lost to his excesses: “My biggest regret is having tried cocaine. It destroyed me.”