Player Profile: Deco PDF Print E-mail

DecoFull name: Anderson Luis de Souza
Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: 27 August 1977
Birthplace: Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil


Anderson Luis de Souza, more commonly known as Deco, is one of the most decorated players of his generation, and his skill, vision and marvelous footballing brain have seen him become an essential part of the teams with which he has enjoyed so much success.

Born in Brazil, Deco was one of many successful products from the youth academy of modest club Corinthians Alagoano, before making the move to Europe and Portuguese giants Benfica at the tender age of 19.

Following a season on loan at Alverca, Deco was surprisingly not offered a new contract by Benfica manager Graeme Souness, and he was soon transferred to little-known club Salgueiros. He performed well for the club during the first half of the 1998/99 season, catching the eye of city rivals and national champions, FC Porto, who duly signed the classy midfielder.

“The Magician” reigns supreme

It proved an excellent deal for all concerned, as the talented playmaker enjoyed five hugely successful years with Porto, earning the nickname O Mágico (The Magician) from his adoring fans as he combined exquisite skill and creative play with incredible work-rate and determination.

In the 2002/03 season, now playing under Jose Mourinho, Deco won a clean sweep of a Portuguese League and Cup double and the UEFA Cup, before reaching incredible new heights the following year. With Deco the heartbeat of the side, Porto successfully defended their league title and produced a remarkable run to stun Europe by winning the Champions League in 2004.

Mourinho left Porto in the summer of 2004, and Deco was expected by many to join the Portuguese coach in England with Chelsea, but the midfielder ultimately opted for Barcelona, signing a four-year deal with the Spanish side.

Dream partnership

His arrival at the Nou Camp was greeted with initial scepticism by some, who felt that his style of play was too similar to that of current superstar Ronaldinho. However, playing in a slightly deeper role than he was accustomed to with Porto, Deco quickly became a huge favourite with his new club, and was an integral part of what would be another terrific side.

Barca ended a six-year wait for the Spanish title by claiming La Liga in Deco’s first season with the club. Some observers even suggested that the Portuguese international was a more influential figure than Ronaldinho throughout the season, claiming that while the Brazilian took all the plaudits, it was Deco who made the team tick.

As was the case at Porto, Deco went one better the following season, winning another La Liga title before once again capturing the Champions League, adding his name to a select group of players to have won the competition with two separate teams. Deco also won the UEFA Best Midfielder Award for the second time in 2006, confirming his status as one of the finest players in the modern game.

Barça decline

If Deco’s first two seasons in La Liga were a categorical success, the second half of his four-year stay with Barca was far less memorable. Frank Rijkaard’s team suffered a swift decline and, after two campaigns without silverware, Deco joined the likes of Ronaldinho in leaving Camp Nou in the summer of 2008, when he was allowed to join English club Chelsea.

Working under the guidance of former Portugal boss Luiz Scolari, Deco will hope to once again help forge another title-winning side at Stamford Bridge. In addition, the prospect of becoming only the second ever player to win the Champions League with three different clubs is an intriguing prospect, as the mercurial playmaker embarks on the latest challenge of an already remarkable career.

International Career

Having gained citizenship from his adopted country, Deco has become an equally indispensable member of the Portugal side since making a goalscoring debut against Brazil in 2003. He has performed particularly well at tournaments, playing starring roles as Portugal reached the final of Euro 2004 on home soil, and the semi-finals of the Germany 2006 World Cup.

Deco arrived at the European Championships in 2008 with some doubting his ability to be as influential as previous tournaments, following a season disrupted by injuries with Barcelona. However, during Portugal’s run to the quarter-finals, Deco was the team’s stand-out performer, turning excellent all-round displays and scoring in the 3-1 win over Czech Republic.

by Sean Gillen (last updated 05/08/2008)

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