No.20: Anderson Luis de Souza,Deco

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Anderson Luis de Souza,widely known as Deco is a Portuguese Brazilian midfielder born on August 27, 1977 in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil.

Deco started his career at Nacional Atlético Clube in the city of São Paulo, where he was spotted and signed by Corinthians. Despite making a couple of appearances for the Brazilian giant, he was deemed too feeble for professional football and was shipped off to Corinthians’ franchise Corinthians Alagoano.

Deco arrived in Portugal in 1997, after being acquired by Lisbon side SL Benfica along with the Corinthians Alagoano franchise.

Benfica decided to loan him to FC Alverca where he played for a season. Deco performed well and was close to renewing his contract with Benfica and joining the main squad. However, the Lisbon club and the player’s representative did not reach an agreement, as the then manager Graeme Souness did not believe that he would develop into a player worth keeping. Subsequently Deco was traded to Porto side S.C. Salgueiros in the 1998/99 season, playing 12 games and scoring two goals. His performances caught the eye of the FC Porto staff, and during the winter transfer window, he was sold to Porto,where he played for five seasons,earning the nickname “Magico” from the Porto fans for his magical touch.Under the guidance of José Mourinho, Deco was one of the key players in the Porto’s UEFA Cup final 3-2 win over Celtic that year. In the 2003/04 season, Deco helped Porto recapture the national title and led the team to the 2004 UEFA Champions League Final in which Porto won 3-0 over Monaco, scoring the second goal of the match. He was the Champions League’s top assist provider and also suffered the most fouls in the Champions League that season. That season, Deco won the UEFA Most Valuable Player, as well as the award for the best midfielder in the competition.

The day after the Euro 2004 final, Barça agreed with Porto on a €15m fee, plus the complete rights of Ricardo Quaresma.

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In December 2004, he came second in France Football’s Ballon D’Or 2004 award, losing to Andriy Shevchenko and beating team mate Ronaldinho by six votes.

Deco won the UEFA Best Midfielder Award yet again for his performance in Barca’s Champions League winning season, becoming the first player to win the same award twice with different teams, having won it with Porto.

He was also awarded the Golden Ball at the FIFA Club World Cup and the Man of the Match award despite losing the final to Internacional.

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Never called up to the Brazilian national team, Deco was mentioned several times in the media as an option for the Portuguese national team. In 2002, having completed six years of Portuguese residence, he received Portuguese citizenship. After many months of public discussion which split Portuguese public opinion, and despite the opposition of a large number of FC Porto rivals’ supporters, he was called up for his first international - coincidentally against his birth country - played at the Estádio das Antas, on 29 March 2003. He played only eight minutes in his debut, but in that time he managed to score the free kick that stunned Brazil, leading to a 2-1 win for Portugal. This was Portugal’s first win over Brazil since the 1966 FIFA World Cup. Since that game, he has been a regular in the national team, despite initial criticism by players such as Luís Figo, who later recognized Deco’s value.

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