Márcio dos Santos Gaia, commonly known as Santos Gaia signed on loan from Stevenage until January 2008, when the deal was made permanent for a reported £10,000.|
The Brazilian was born in São Mateus, about 450 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. At 11 years-old he left his parents to join the youth set-up of Vitoria de Baia in Salvador progressing into the Brazilian Under-17 side in the 1995 World Championships. Santos' performances kept former Valencia star and now Liverpool player Fábio Aurélio on the bench, and the defender allegedly marked Pablo Aimar out of the game.
He went on to play for a number of clubs in his homeland including Corinthians Alagoano, São Mateus, Esporte Clube Bahia and Agremiação Sportiva Arapiraquense as well as a short spell in Spain with Pontevedra CF, before returning to Brazil. Whilst playing in Spain, Santos met his wife making him eligible to play in Europe because of his dual nationality.
Santos then had a successful trial at Exeter City, following a recommendation by an agent to then Grecians boss John Cornforth.
"Brazilian football is very different football. All players pass and pass including defenders. Here there were loads of tackles and strong football. It was hard at first but now I love this football." Gaia admitted.
The towering defender spent almost four years at Exeter and enjoyed a spell in the League before they were relegated into the Conference, making 140 appearances for the Grecians scoring 15 times.
Stevenage boss Mark Stimson picked him up in the summer of 2006, after falling out of favour at St James Park. Gaia went on to with the FA Trophy with Boro that season, helping Stevenage defeat Grays 1-0 i...[Read more]