'A clown who paints his face but who is killed by the shirt…' – Dario Dubois.
In Britain, it’s safe to say our footballers aren’t renowned for their ability to express themselves. Of course you get the odd exception – Pat Nevin flirted with French cinema and post-punk, Freddy Ljunberg had that red fin of hair, and Graeme Le Saux enjoyed a quick gander at the Financial Times every now and again, but you probably wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that the rest are all Porsche driving, womanising prima donna’s.
Cross the Atlantic Ocean however and the South American’s are producing footballers that seem to go out of their way to deliberately defy convention. Take Argentina’s mercurial Dario Dubois for example.
The former Victoriano Arenas and Deportivo Paraguay defender’s love for the beautiful game was rivalled only by his unwavering passion for death metal. Plying his trade in the lower tiers of Argentina’s Primera D Metropolitana, Dubois is a rare illustration of someone who played purely for pleasure and not money.
Any one of the pictures floating around the internet will give you an idea of what he was all about. Possessing a full make-up bag of mascara and ghoulish white face paint, Dubois displayed a commitment which is perhaps unparalleled in world football - a commitment which saw him frequently lambasted by fans and peers alike. Dubois’ very image surmounts to one of sheer menace - a defensive juggernaut with features so angular he looks like he could concuss a Shetland pony with a single stab of his chin. It’s no small secret that opposition teams feared him. With one jut from Dubois puffing brow, strikers turned to stone.
There were weekly rallies against Dubois’ with panicky spectators venting concern about the effect his unorthodox appearance would have on younger fans watching from the stands. To his eternal credit, he refused to change for anyone. The Argentinian Football Federation eventually had Dubois banned until he duly removed every inch of cosmetic application from his face. In response, he wore silk screen band t-shirts underneath the club jersey and sported studded wrist cuffs instead.
Closer to home, we have seen the odd marriage between heavy metal and professional football. But then Marcus Hahnemann and Kasey Keller kept their predilections for Cannibal Corpse and Scum-era Napalm Death well under wraps for the most part (until the domestic intrusion of Celebrity Cribs anyway!). In another unique anti-conglomerate statement, Dubois often covered his short sponsor with black masking tape or smeared it over with mud.
"Like a month ago when we were paid a dime for a win, I had become accustomed to taking black electrical tape to cover my shirt advertising. But when I got to the stadium I realized I had forgotten. So because it had rained I knew what I had to do. I prepared to do my job, I crossed myself, took mud from the floor and covered it all over me."
At 34 Dubois suffered a ruptured ligament and was unable to pay for the restorative surgery. It seemed his notorious career as a defender had finally come to an abrupt end. Always the optimist, Dubois decided to focus on his role as the indelible bass player of prog ne’er-do-wells Tribute Rock – a local band who achieved next to nothing.
Amongst the groups line-up was Carlos Garcia on guitar (Deportivo Paraguay), Perico Falco on drums (Midland), Maxi harmonic Ponce (friend of parrot), Eduardo Paredes on vocals (Deportivo Paraguay). Between jobs, Dubois still found time to create further controversy, claiming the political leader of Juventud Unida once attempted to bribe him (it was never revealed why). In 2003, he famously gave an interview denouncing yet another corrupt politician live on Radio Belgrano. He stated -
"The president of United Youth (Juan Jose Castro) offered money to lose, so they earn more. Then for the re-election he entered St. Miguel. He is a rat and just wants to win and give us silver. It’s not going to happen ... but he’s a politician, what can you expect?"
In March 2008 at the age of 37, Dario Dubois died after being shot twice by an unidentified gunman. Following ten long days in casualty, his body was unable to cope with the internal bleeding and he died with his family mourning by his bedside.
There isn’t a lot of information on Dario Dubois. For someone so striking he maintained a remarkably low profile. Regardless, his legacy is a unique one and Dubois has been immortalised since his death as an iconic martyr for personal strength. The name carries with it, a certain mythic status in certain parts of the country and rightfully so. Already his legend has spouted an ambient rock group - The Dario Dubois Duo - forming in downtown Buenos Aires barely a week after his passing.
In his last interview for Ole’ newspaper he described himself as –
“A clown who paints his face but who is killed by the shirt...”
Despite offering Dubois a platform to have his say, the newspaper then went on to publicly attack him, criticising his refusal to cross himself and then later in the same interview inquired if he were a homosexual.
The much-maligned Dubois remained deeply conflicted about several issues on and off the field of play, but it’s a testament to his character that he is remembered so fondly. Whenever the subject comes up in the media, he is described as a humble and intelligent individual who abstained from cigarettes, alcohol, women, drugs and red meat.
It very well might be a gross over-exaggeration to call Dario Dubois a “role model”, but his name should stand for something. It would surely be too un-poetic were he remembered as a laughing stock or someone who brought the game into disrepute.
So what can we learn from Dario Dubois? Have the integrity to stick to your guns and stand up for what you believe in? Show conviction? Don’t be squashed by the man? Play for love not money?
Probably all of the above.
Porsche driving, womanising prima donna's take note…