“DECO” Anderson Luis de Souza
Anderson Luís de Souza, known as Deco, is a retired Brazilian-born Portuguese footballer who played as an attacking midfielder or central midfielder. Deco is one of the few players to have won the UEFA Champions League with two clubs – FC Porto in 2004 and FC Barcelona in 2006. He was named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and UEFA Best Midfielder in Porto’s Champions League-winning season and was named Man of the Match in the 2003–04 Champions League final. Deco was the first player to win the UEFA Best Midfielder Award with two clubs, Porto and Barcelona. He was awarded the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball and the Man of the Match award in the final despite losing to Internacional. Born and raised in Brazil, Deco received Portuguese citizenship in 2002 having completed five years of Portuguese residence, and subsequently opted to play internationally for the Portugal national football team. He earned 75 caps for them, playing at two European Championships and two World Cups, reaching the final of UEFA Euro 2004, and achieving a fourth-place finish at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Deco announced his retirement on 26 August 2013, following a hamstring injury.
Did you Know?
On 17 June 2004, Deco told a Portuguese radio station that he would almost certainly join English side Chelsea (then coached by José Mourinho) following UEFA Euro 2004. He said that a transfer deal between Porto and Chelsea had been all but finalized, and that the only remaining steps were passing a physical examination and signing a formal contract with Chelsea. On 26 June 2004, however, he told the Portuguese sports daily O Jogo that he would rather move to FC Barcelona than follow Mourinho to Chelsea. While Bayern Munich gave up on Deco after the Chelsea deal seemed to have been concluded, it was still uncertain whether the German side would make a new bid. The best offer at that time was a €21 million bid from Barça, but this figure was still €4 million short of the request by Porto’s board. Portuguese newspapers then reported that Barça would try to offer Portuguese winger Ricardo Quaresma as part of the exchange in order to ease the deal. Finally, a deal was achieved between Porto and Barcelona the day after the Euro 2004 final. Barça agreed on a €15 million fee in cash, plus the complete rights of Quaresma to Porto, which tagged Quaresma for €6 million. Deco signed a four-year deal with the Catalan side on 6 July 2004. In Barcelona, some suggested Deco would be completely eclipsed by Brazilian star Ronaldinho (a duo that according to Luiz Felipe Scolari “can make rain fall”). Indeed, many Barcelona fans met the transfer with raised eyebrows, as Deco was considered an attacking midfielder, a department which was already well covered. Instead, coach Frank Rijkaard used him in a three-man midfield, where his tactical knowledge, passing abilities, and enormous work rate surprised many. In December 2004, he came second in France Football’s Ballon d’Or 2004 award, losing to Andriy Shevchenko and beating teammate Ronaldinho by six votes. On 14 May 2005, Deco played in the draw against Levante UD, which gave Barcelona their 17th La Liga title. He also was named Barcelona’s player of the season in the 2005–06 season. Deco scored twice in the Spanish Supercup 2006–07, which Barça won. Deco won the UEFA Best Midfielder Award yet again for his performance in Barça’s Champions League-winning season, enabling him to join the exclusive group of players that have won the same award more than once with different teams, having won the Champions League previously 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.
Did you Know?
Deco was a versatile, tactically intelligent, and creative midfielder, with excellent vision and technical ability. A generous and hard-working team-player, he was capable of playing in several midfield positions; he was initially deployed as a central midfielder under manager José Mourinho, during his time with Porto, although he was also capable of playing as an attacking midfielder, as a deep-lying playmaker, or as a winger on either flank. Although he lacked pace, as well as notable physical, defensive, and athletic attributes, he possessed good stamina, as well as excellent ball control, dribbling skills, passing range, and crossing ability, which allowed him to beat players, find space, and create chances for team-mates. As he lost his acceleration, agility, and mobility in later years, he also underwent a physical development, which, along with his balance, enabled him to protect the ball against larger opponents. In addition to his creative duties, Deco was also capable of contributing offensively with occasional goals, due to his accurate mid-range shooting ability, and his adeptness at free-kicks. Despite his talent, Deco was also known to be injury-prone and inconsistent at times; furthermore, his work-rate and fitness were often brought into question in his later career. Deco was also notorious for his tendency to commit tactical fouls, and he was accused of diving throughout his career.