The ageless Roberto Carlos who many thought would finish his career in Corinthians made another U turn when he joined Anzhi Makhachkala, a Russian Premier League club based in Makhachkala, the capital of the North Caucasian republic of Dagestan.
The club is bankrolled by billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, the 118th richest man in the world who made his fortune in metals, oil, real estate, and banking. Kerimov took over the club in January 2011 and immediately set about changing the face of the team with a decidedly Samba touch. Roberto Carlos was lured with a huge paycheck and his move was followed by fellow Corinthian Jucelei, part of Mano Menezes new look Selecao and Genk's Joao Carlos. Diego Tardelli, Atletico Mineiro's standout striker and on Dunga's reserve list for the 2010 World Cup is the newest arrival in this turnaround.
Kerimov might be able to pull of an Abramovich and vault Anzhi Makhachkala to the top of the Russian league. As Domm Norris points out, "the influx of South American talent to Makhachkala has inevitably made people stand up and take notice of a side who finished last season rooted in mid table mediocrity."
On April 24th, Roberto Carlos scored his first goal against Dynamo Moscow through a penalty and the spring in his step during his celebration shows he is game for another two seasons. He may never have heard of his new club but he's ready to lead them to trophies. They're currently 6th in the table behind better known Zenit St Petersburg and CSKA Moscow.
There are different reasons for getting energized by these developments but one maybe the tongue twisting delight in saying Anzhi Makhachkala rapidly. Makhachkala's etymology is rooted in the city's homage to the Dagestani revolutionary Mahomet Ali Dakhadayev (in Dagestani, Makhach means Mahomet) and Qala/ Kala is Armenian for fortress. Anzhi is soil.