Star player: Deco, Portugal

2010-04-15 00:00

ANDERSON Luís de Souza by name, but Deco by fame, this pint-sized playmaker will be a key feature for Portugal in the World Cup.

Deco was born in Brazil but opted to play for Portugal after obtaining citizenship there in 2002.

By that stage, Deco was already a fixture in the Porto side which would go on to win the Champions League under Jose Mourinho in 2004.

Mourinho made him captain, and Deco responded with goals and guile, securin­g the man-of-the-match award in the final against Monaco.

Deco was expected to link up with Mourinho when the “Special One” moved to Chelsea but, at the last minute, the Porto star revealed that he was joining Catalan giants Barcelona instead.

Despite joining a cast list that included Ronaldinho — at that stage the world’s best player — a young Messi and the incomparable Xavi in midfield, Deco more than held his own and established himself as a key member of the Barca set-up.

He became one of the few players to have won Champions League titles with two different clubs when Barcelona pipped ­Arsenal for the coveted trophy in 2006.

As the scene at Barcelona changed, Deco sought a new challenge, and this was provided by another former coach of his at Chelsea, Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The larger-than-life Brazilian had coached the Portuguese national team, and had almost delivered glory in the Euro 2004 tournament that Portugal hosted.

Deco, who had been shunned by Brazil’s national team due to its inexhaustible supply of star players, still raised eyebrows when he was initially selected for the Portugal side.

His debut match, ironically, was against his land of birth, and Deco marked it by curling home a free kick as Portugal secured a 2-1 vic­tory.

The die had been cast, and Deco became a Portuguese hero.

These days, at 32, Deco patrols the centre of midfield for Chelsea, and is on the brink of securing a League and Cup double with the Blues.

His arrival at Stamford Bridge was nothing short of spectacular, as he smashed in a 30-yard screamer on debut to announce himself to the Blues’ faithful in August 2009.

Deco forms part of a strong backbone for Portugal, with the team looking to him, Cristiano Ronaldo and Quaresma for inspiration.

Portugal have enough talent to go a long way in 2010, and all eyes will be on their ­potentially decisive group game against Brazil.

What odds on another bit of magic from Deco?

 

FACT FILE

Full name: Anderson Luís de Souza

Date of birth: 27 August 1977

Age: 32

Place of birth: São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil

Height: 1,74 metres

Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Current club: Chelsea

Previous clubs: Corinthians, Benfica, Alverca (loan), Salgueiros (loan), Porto, Barcelona

National team: 2003–, Portugal, 71 caps, five goals

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