Cristiano dos Santos Rodrigues (3 June 1981) was a Brazilian forward who went to 'Judas' with his compatriot Sergio from the crowd favourite. Played in the Netherlands for Roda JC and Willem II.
It was player agent Marc van Hoof who helped Cristiano, together with his compatriot Sergio, to a contract in Breda. NAC's club management dreamed of samba in fujifilm stadium and rubbed itself in their hands. The potential crowd-pleasers would certainly generate a high transfer fee was the thought.
In November 1999, the Brazilian made his Eredivisie debut at the Volendamse Veronica Stadium. With a 1-3 victory, the points were taken to Breda. However, it was his only game this season and after NAC was relegated from the Eredivisie he had to wait a year for a continuation of his Eredivisie adventure. At the second level of the Netherlands, the Brazilian's patience was tested. He played only 10 games. His contribution to the championship – which nac immediately brought back to the Eredivisie – was therefore small.
Back at the highest level, the Brazilian finally came into the picture with coach Henk ten Cate; in two seasons he scored sixteen goals in 59 games. Thanks in part to his good play, NAC found itself in fourth place midway through the 2001/2002 season.
The fanatical audience carried Cristiano and also Sergio on their hands, but still the love cooled in the long run. The dream transfer fee saw the board go up in smoke. Cristiano and partner Sergio signed a contract with Roda JC which ensured that both Brazilians would leave for Kerkrade in the summer transfer-free.
The club from Kerkrade was obliged to pay the minimum salary for players outside the European Union of almost 800,000 guilders. NAC did not have to meet that condition because both Brazilians had been with the club for some time. The club couldn't afford this at all. NAC felt cheated and the supporters were furious. Under police escort, they had to be escorted into the players' bus. 'Judases' and 'defectors' shouted the banners in fujifilm stadium. For Henk ten Cate, it was no reason not to draw up his best players. However, he was not happy about the way things were going: 'I wonder if they are happy in their hearts. But yes, money can pay a lot.
Also at Roda JC Cristiano dos Santos Rodrigues could count on a starting spot. He scored 30 times in 78 games. A fine moyenne. After three seasons, he wanted to try it higher up. However, there were no interesting clubs from abroad. ADO Den Haag and his old club NAC were attracted to the brazilian's services, but they could not meet his financial requirements. Cristiano finally moved to Switzerland a season later, where he had convinced FC Basel of his ability. Nevertheless, after seven games in which he scored once, this adventure was already over. Willem II freed the attacker in the winter of 2007 from a hopeless situation in St Jakob-Park.
After two years against relegation, the agile Brazilian left Willem II and spent his final years as a professional footballer with Adelaide United in Australia. At Tarxien Rainbows in Malta, where he was reunited with former team-mate and compatriot Sergio, he played a year where he scored 18 times in 20 matches. The forward also played half a season at Honduras. Here he quickly moved because the living conditions were too dangerous. Relatives of teammates were kidnapped and released for a lot of money. For Cristiano reason not to take his wife and children to the Central American country. After the Honduras adventure, Cristiano retired from professional football.
Employed by the South Australian Football Association (FFSA), Cristiano dos Santos now promotes futsal and gives clinics. 'Big names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Messi started with futsal before they came on to the pitch, it's an important part of your development' says the Brazilian who started playing football on the street himself at the age of seven. And he enjoys it every day: ' It's nice to see the development among the young people' Cristiano told the local newspaper. Still a little samba in the Australian interior.