Daniel Penha’s beautiful A-Leagues message as he explains emotional reason for return

Daniel Penha spoke to KEEPUP about his emotional year away from the A-Leagues.

Don’t be surprised if Western United playmaker Daniel Penha scores in his side’s first home game this season on Saturday afternoon – because the Brazilian has a promise to keep.

When Daniel Penha provided more assists than anyone else in his first season in Australia, A-Leagues fans fell in love with the talented Brazilian.

Penha, too, had fallen in love with his new home. Now back in the Isuzu UTE A-League with Western United, the 25-year-old has no intention of leaving.

After sparkling with the Newcastle Jets in 2021-22, Penha moved to Daegu FC in Korea, but life threw up curveballs, on and off the pitch, and a longing for Australia has helped him, and his wife Larissa, return to a happy place.

“When I was in Korea, I had bad news about my wife; she had cancer,” Penha reflects to KEEPUP Studios.

“Now she is okay, but when I was there; my body was in Korea, my mind was in Brazil.

I think she (is) more strong, and she made me more strong to live the bad moment too… And she made me more strong.

When Western United began flirting, Australia was the perfect remedy to get a smile back on his face, particularly on the pitch after a season riddled with injury.

“She loves Australia more than me, she is so, so happy now and she wanted to come back to Australia faster,” he enthused.

“When I was going to Melbourne she said to me: ‘okay, I will go in September, or October’ and the start of the A-League is October.”

He continued: “But I want to stay forever in Australia.

I love Australia, I love the A-League, I love the teams, I love to play here and I think in my heart, my heart say to me: ‘Daniel, your place is in Australia’.

“So maybe I want to stay in Australia, for longer, and to play here, I want to stay here.

“I love Australia, I love the A-League, I love everything here.”

This weekend, with Western returning to Mars Stadium to host his former club Newcastle Jets, don’t be surprised if the mercurial playmaker bags one against his old teammates.

“So in your first game you need to score my goal – so I wait to be there with you in celebration with you,” he beams, recalling a conversation with his wife about her first game in the stands.

“She, and me, we are so happy.”


His coach John Aloisi is also happy. While Western have endured two losses since that opening day, Aloisi has a man he was scouting for some time. 

“He was one of the best players, if not the best player for Newcastle Jets a few years ago. Exciting,” he said when Penha’s signing was announced.

“Someone who can contribute to goals…a player we really wanted this season; something we were looking for. We’re fortunate to have him. He’s a big signing for us.

“He brings that attacking flair; he’s exciting, not only for us coaches, our supporters – but the whole league. He has a great left foot and can play passes that most other players in the league can’t play, which is a bonus for us. And he’s young, dynamic, has legs – technically he’s very good for us.

“He showed with Newcastle Jets a few seasons ago, the excitement he can bring to the league. He brings something a lot of players haven’t got in the league: tight ball control he learnt in the streets of Brazil, and creating something out of nothing.”

Daniel Penha as part of the A-Leagues All Stars against Barcelona.
Daniel Penha in Western United colours.

It is a craft, when on song, that brings something unique solely to football, an art that A-Leagues fans know from his exploits in Newcastle, that can be worth the price of admission alone, and which makes Aloisi happy to say he is “very proud” to have secured the talent this season.

“Beauty for beauty’s sake. And with the ball at the centre of that universe, the fascination of Brazilian football is how the art interweaves with the brutality (of survival, of the need to win),” wrote Paramount+ commentator Andy Harper on KEEPUP during Penha’s mesmerising run of form two seasons ago.

“And Penha has provided this. Attached to that ball, his left foot can launch, long and accurately, a scything attack in the same way that an artist will start a masterpiece with that first, long stroke of the brush.

“And he will teleport, it seems, to the creation’s finishing touches, as he threads a final, silky pass, to goal (currently he leads the league in assists) or finishes it himself.”