The quaint area of Tambun in Ipoh, where he now lives, is just what the charismatic player from Brodosqui, Brazil, had dreamed of.
Better yet, the people in Perak have accepted him well. He has met many of them during the pre-season matches and even training sessions.
His partnership with fellow striker Shahrel Fikri Md Fauzi is also blooming.
The two, different in styles when it comes to their attacking play, have combined well in pre-season and their true form was seen in the Unity Cup when they showed great telepathy to down northern rivals Kedah 3-1 at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh.
The 33-year-old De Paula, who came to Ipoh with a reputation of having scored 66 goals in 76 games for Kuala Lumpur in the last three years, said he did not mind playing the target man while allowing Shahrel and the other attackers to score goals.
“Eky (Shahrel) is a fantastic striker. I think he will have a great future in the national team too. I love playing with him up front, and not to forget with wingers like Careca and J. Partiban,” he said.
“Eky and I have different styles of play, but we complement each other quite well. While I hold the ball and open up spaces, Shahrel has excellent movement, timing and pace. So, it works well.
“Also, the way we play allows the other attackers to have scoring chances.
“In Kuala Lumpur, I played as a top striker too, but one tasked to score goals. In Perak, it is to enhance everyone’s play.”
Having worked with coach Mehmet Durakovic in Selangor five years ago, the former Police player said he understands the Australian’s style of play and his assimilation into Perak did not take much time.
He said he understood the coach also valued hard work and family values when building a team and De Paula was not surprised to see the unity within the group.
“This team have what it takes to compete in all the competitions. We are capable of winning any trophy because the team are united and have quality in all areas.
“We have improved game by game during pre-season, and that bodes well. We can compete against sides like Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), Selangor and Terengganu.”
For the new season, Perak have signed Australian centreback Anthony Golec, Cambodian midfielder Thierry Chantha Bin and winger Hafiz Ramdan.
De Paula said working with the new players and also those who have been with the club for a long time has been great.
“I have known some of them during my years in Malaysian football. So, I know how they are like and how they play.
“Golec and Thierry are quality players, so they should improve the squad.”
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