20th June – Juliano Belletti

Juliano Belletti was a World Cup winner in 2002 and will be hoping that Brazil improve this time around after a disappointing opening draw against Switzerland.

The right back was unfortunate that he played at the same time as Cafu as he would have gained a lot more than 23 caps. But he should still be proud of his international career and how influential he was for the clubs he played for.

Belletti started his career at Cruzeiro in Brazil and was given his debut in 1994 but after failing to break into the team, he was involved in a swap deal, joining Sao Paulo. Once again, he wasn’t first choice and was loaned out to Atletico Mineiro and this is where his career started. The club finished second in the table with Belletti scoring five times.

Soccer - FIFA Confederations Cup 2003 - Group B - Brazil v USA

On his return to Sao Paulo he was finally seen as their first choice right back and stayed at the club until 2002 when his performances had been spotted by clubs in Europe. It was Spanish side Villarreal that took a chance on him. He stayed with them for two years, playing 59 La Liga games, scoring six times before moving to Barcelona.

In his first season he helped the club win the league title but his second was slightly harder as he was in and out of the side. However, he did manage to score his one and only goal for Barcelona in this season. After coming on as a substitute in the Champions League final against Arsenal, Belletti scored the winning goal. This would be his greatest moment but he didn’t get much luck with injuries in the following campaign.

Belletti Barca

With limited opportunities the right back joined English side Chelsea on the 23rd August 2007 and made his debut two days later in a 4-0 win over Portsmouth. In his first season he made the right back position his own and scored against Wigan Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur.

Chelsea would reach the Champions League final and despite Belletti scoring in the penalty shootout, the team would go on to lose against Manchester United. With the arrival of Jose Bosingwa at the start of the next season, the defender struggled to keep hold of his place and was seen as more of a utility player.

Belletti Chelsea

After three seasons, 94 appearances, five goals, a Premier League title and two FA Cup medals, Belletti had gained cult hero status but his time was up and he returned to Brazil to join Fluminense. Just one year into his new contract he was released due to injuries but he did give it one more try signing for Ceara. However, 12 days later he decided to retire.

The final word can go to former Chelsea and Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. “I know him very well. I know Belletti from when he started to play at Sao Paulo. I know his potential. He helps us in whatever position we put him in; midfield, right back, any position.”

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19th June – Kleberson

Kleberson might not have been a success at Manchester United but he played a big part in Brazil winning the World Cup in 2002.

The midfielder should also be someone that players in their World Cup squads should look up to as he was not a starter at the beginning of the tournament but by the end became an integral part of the team. After starting the quarter final against England he would go on to set up one of Ronaldo’s goals in the final against Germany.

It was his performances at first club Atletico Paranaense, where he played 100 league games and was a part of their title winning side in 2001. After the World Cup it was becoming harder for the Brazilian side to keep hold of him with many big European clubs interested in signing him. On the 12th August 2003, it was Manchester United who signed him for £6.5 million. Unfortunately he didn’t get off to a great start and picked up an injury in just his second appearance.

Kleberson AP

His time at Old Trafford only lasted two seasons and 30 appearances in all competitions but he did manage two goals in home wins against Blackburn Rovers and Everton. He then moved on to Besiktas in 2005 and it started off well with the midfielder playing 46 times in his first season but then his contract was terminated as he claimed that he was not getting his wages on time.

Kleberson MU

Flamengo signed Kleberson on a free transfer but he was unable to play for the club until February 2008 due to issues with his previous club. There were even more problems between the player and Besiktas and it ended with his new club having to pay a fee and Besiktas having to compensate the player. When he finally did get back to playing without any complications, he quickly rediscovered his form and became an influential player for the team and even earned a recall to the national side.

While on international duty he picked up an injury in a friendly against Estonia, which was meant to keep him out for a long time, however he came back early and played in the 2-1 win over Gremio which secured his second Brazilian Serie A title.

Kleberson Flamengo

After one more season at the club, he returned to first club Atletico but it ended terribly as they were relegated to Serie B and therefore Kleberson signed for Bahia. He scored his first goal for his new club against former side Flamengo but other than that it was largely unspectacular. He then moved on to America, playing for Philadelphia Union, Indy Eleven and Fort Lauderdale Strikers before retiring in 2016.

The final word can go to former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. “He is an athletic midfield player who can play in a number of positions. One of the reasons we sold Seba Veron was because we knew we were getting Kleberson – that shows how highly we regard his talent.”

11th June – Vagner Love

Vagner Love at one point was one of the most highly rated strikers in Europe and was expected to become one of Brazil’s main goalscorers.

Love started his career at Brazilian side Palmeiras, where he helped them return to the top flight. He stayed for two seasons but scored 27 times in 42 league games and this led to him being by bought by Russian side CSKA Moscow. There were many rumours that he did not settle and was looking to leave, however he remained committed to his team and became a club hero by scoring in the 2005 UEFA Cup final which CSKA would go on to win against Sporting Lisbon. It was in this competition that he made a lot of headlines, by finishing as the competitions top scorer in the 2008-09 campaign.

On the 29th August 2009 it looked as though his time in Russia had came to an end as he returned to Palmeiras on loan. He, again showed he knew where the back of the net was by scoring five goals in 12 games. Due to the player stating concerns over his safety he cut the loan spell short and signed for his childhood team Flamengo.

At Flamengo, the striker was a massive success and formed a fantastic partnership with the former Inter Milan player Adriano, scoring 23 goals in 26 games. However, they could not convince Love to stay permanently.

Love Flamgo

This led to the player returning to CSKA where he helped the club win the Russian Premier League in 2013 and would also manage to hit over 100 goals during his two spells with the team. Once again he did leave and signed for Shandong Luneng and he would continue his goalscoring form with 28 goals in 43 games in his two seasons in China.

LOve CSKA

He has since became a little bit of a traveller, but someone that can guarantee goals. After his contract was rescinded in China, he joined Corinthians and finished as the top scorer as they would go on to win the Serie A title. But would only stay for almost exactly a year, joining French side Monaco and would be a fairly decent player for the club. He will be mostly remembered for scoring a goal in a victory over PSG.

Love Alanyaspor

After just half a season, Love signed for Turkish side Alanyaspor and was initially seen as a flop as he failed to score in his first seven games but then scored 23 times in just 20 games meaning he won the Golden Boot. He followed this up with an incredible start to the next season with 11 goals in 16 games and this led to Besiktas signing the striker midway through the season.

The final word can go to Monaco President, Vadim Vasilyev. “Vagner Love is a striker who has shown all his value in his career. We have had problems scoring goals and we are convinced Vagner Love can provide us with all his quality in that department.”

7th June – Cafu

Cafu is one of the best ever right backs in football and will be hoping that his country Brazil can win the World Cup in 2018.

The right back helped his country win the trophy in 1994 and 2002 as well as the Copa America twice and will be looking on keenly this summer to see how his national side get on. The only statistic that anyone needs to hear to prove how good Cafu was is that he is the most internationally capped Brazilian player of all time.

But it wasn’t always easy for the defender as he was turned down by a lot of clubs when he was younger and could not get signed, however, in 1988 he was given the opportunity to show his talents at home town club Sao Paulo. It did take him a little while to break into the first team but when he did he was influential in helping the club win back to back Copa Libertadores and World Championships in 1992 and 1993. Just a year later he was named South American Footballer of the Year.

Cafu SP

1995 was an interesting time for Cafu as he signed for Brazilian team Juventude but never played a game for the club and moved to Spanish side Real Zaragoza where he won the Cup Winners’ Cup. After 17 appearances he returned to Brazil, joining Palmeiras, this once again though was only a short stay and he was being linked with moves back to Europe.

Italian side Roma signed the right back and he was loved by the fans for his willingness to fly forward and join the attack as well as his solid defending. In 2001 he helped the club win Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana but these would be his only trophies during his six year spell. After 163 league games and 5 goals, Cafu made the move to AC Milan.

Cafu Roma

In his first season with the club, he won Serie A for the second time in his career and in the following campaign played a part in reaching the Champions League final, which they unfortunately lost to Liverpool, in arguably the greatest game in the competitions history. He did manage to get revenge for this defeat just two years later by winning the Champions League against the same opposition.

Cafu AC

His final season for the club was the 2007-08 season where he was not an automatic pick but in his last professional game he did manage to grab a goal in a 4-1 win over Udinese. To show how much he was loved in Italy, he has been named in both Roma and AC Milan’s Hall of Fame.

The final word can go to England World Cup hero Geoff Hurst. “Cafu was the complete package. It’s not often I find myself waxing lyrical about a defender, but Cafu was that and so much more. Sir Alex Ferguson once jokingly asked whether Cafu had two hearts, on account of his tireless running and unstinting stamina.”

29th May – Claudio Cacapa

Claudio Cacapa is one of the most decorated players of the 2000s in France but his reputation in England is not as positive.

The central defender was never the tallest and some felt this is why he didn’t succeed in the Premier League and looked better in other leagues. Cacapa started his career in Brazil with Atletico Mineiro where he established himself quickly as first team regular after making his debut in 1996. In 1999 he was voted the best defender in the league receiving the Bola de Ouro award.

Cacapa AM

In 2001, he was linked with moves to Europe and eventually moved to Lyon, making his debut on the 17th February. His success was instantaneous as he scored in the Coupe de la Ligue final which Lyon won and this helped him earn a full time contract. Lyon awarded him with a five year deal and was given the captain’s armband. Over the next five years he lifted the Ligue 1 title each season and played a part in their Champions League campaigns.

Cacapa Lyon

When his contract came to an end there was a lot of interest and on the 3rd August 2007 he signed for Newcastle United. He made his debut as a substitute against Aston Villa and in doing so he became the 1000th player to play for the club in a competitive fixture. Later in the month he would make his full debut in a 2-0 win against Barnsley and followed this up three days later with his full Premier League debut, helping his team to a 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic.

After a goal in a 3-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur, his career at Newcastle went downhill. In a game against Portsmouth, Cacapa was withdrawn after just 18 minutes after a few horrendous errors and his reputation was ruined. It was announced that he had an injury leading up to the game but he was heavily criticised.

Cacapa Newcastle

Despite being at the club until the end of the 2008-09 season, which ended in relegation, he only managed 25 league games and was released at the end of the campaign. Cacapa returned to Brazil and in a surprising move he joined Cruzeiro, big rivals to first club Mineiro. He played 22 times for the club, scoring one goal.

On the 25th January 2011, the defender joined French side Evian on a six month deal and helped the club win the Ligue 2 title and promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history. However, he wasn’t given a new contract and he joined Avai, where he stayed until his retirement on the 20th March 2012.

The final word can go to the manager that signed him for Newcastle, Sam Allardyce. “He is a top player. Our fans should not be put off by the fact they may not have heard of Cacapa. He has been captain of Lyon for the past five years and for every one of those five years they won the French title.”

15th February – Heurelho Gomes

Heurelho Gomes might have been ridiculed for his time at Tottenham Hotspur after some high profile mistakes ruined his reputation but he is slowly starting to rebuild that now at Watford.

At the age of 34 it could be argued that his best years are in front of him and he will be doing his best to keep Watford in the promotion race and hopefully get promoted back to the Premier League. At the weekend he was involved in one of the best games in England with his side defeating Bolton Wanderers 4-3. Despite conceding three times he pulled off some fantastic saves and is quickly becoming a fan favourite at the club.

Gomes started his career in Brazil with Cruzeiro where he played 59 times between 2001 and 2004 before being scouted by teams in Europe and in July 2004 he joined Dutch side PSV. At first there were people who doubted his abilities but after a difficult debut in which he conceded twice against RBC he became one of the most consistent goalkeepers in Europe. In his first season PSV overachieved and reached the semi finals of the Champions League and they were very unlucky not to reach the final that year. Previously PSV hadn’t even qualified for the Second Round of the competition.

Gomes Cruz

He was definitely a fan favourite and was well known for his acrobatic saves and long throws which set off a lot of attacks for his side. He spent four seasons at the club and played 129 league games but on the 27th June 2008 he left for Tottenham Hotspur. Gomes’ early form was very patchy and he conceded very soft goals against Aston Villa and Fulham leaving Tottenham in the relegation zone. But he did improve and made some important saves in the win over West Ham and the 0-0 draw with Manchester United.

Gomes PSV

In the following campaign he was more solid and played a key role in helping Tottenham finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history. But the competition wasn’t a happy one for Gomes as he was sent off in 10 minutes in the game against Inter Milan. Later in the competition he also made a mistake against Real Madrid which effectively ended their chances to progress.

Gomes TH

With more errors to follow, it seemed like the managers had lost patience with the goalkeeper and firstly they signed Brad Friedel which meant Gomes had to spend long periods on the bench. Then he slipped even further down the pecking order after Hugo Lloris was signed so in January 2013 he signed for Hoffenheim on loan. On his debut against Freiburg he made some crucial saves and helped his side to a 2-1 win. His season was ended prematurely by injury and he had to undergo hand surgery.For a full season he sat in Spurs’ reserves until his contract expired and he joined Watford on the 24th May 2014.

The final word can go to Harry Redknapp. “He is a great character, a lovely man, a fantastic fella and a top goalkeeper. He has been fine in training. Gomes is top class, when he is on his game he is a great goalkeeper.”

23rd September – Paolo Rossi

Paolo Rossi is celebrating his 58th birthday today and he is a legend in his home country of Italy because he led them to the World Cup title in 1982.

In the tournament he scored six goals which meant he won the Golden Boot and was then also awarded the Golden Ball for being the player of the tournament becoming only the third player after Garrincha in 1962 and Mario Kempes in 1978 to pick up all three awards at a World Cup. Although his reputation was slightly tarnished after a betting scandal in 1980 he claimed he was innocent and came back from a two year ban just in time to become the country’s hero.
Rossi Italy
Rossi started his career at Juventus but had a difficult time there and after three operations on his knee he was sent out on loan to gain experience at Como. He was shifted out to the right wing by Como and could not show his true potential. But in 1976 he moved to Vicenza where his career really started and he began to play as the centre forward and immediately showed his eye for goal.

In his first year at the club he won the Serie B Golden Boot after his 21 goals in 36 games. These goals also helped the club gain promotion to the top flight, where Rossi just seemed to get better and better, hitting 24 goals in just 30 games and becoming the first player to ever finish as the top scorer in Serie A and Serie B in consecutive seasons. After his impressive spell at Vicenza he was called up to the Italy squad for the 1978 World Cup and gained international fame as one of the world’s best strikers after scoring three goals and assisting another four in the tournament.

Despite averaging better than a goal in every game in the following campaign, he could not stop Vicenza getting relegated and was loaned out to Perugia for the 1978-79 season. He scored 13 times in his first year with the club but then the betting scandal stopped him playing more games for them.
Rossi Vicenza
After he completed his ban he rejoined Juventus in the 1980-81 season but could only play three times, scoring one goal but this earned him his call up to the Italy squad for the 1982 World Cup which was heavily criticised before the tournament. The criticism was justified as he looked a shadow of his former self in the three group games, however Enzo Bearzot stood by his striker. He repaid this faith by scoring a hatrick in the quarter final against Brazil in a 3-2 win and then followed this up with two against Poland in the semis. Then in the final against Germany he scored the first of Italy’s three goals to help them lift the trophy.

After the World Cup he could not keep up his phenomenal goal scoring record for Juventus but he did still have a record that many strikers would be proud of – 24 league goals in 83 games. These goals were good enough to win two Serie A titles, the Italian Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the European Cup in his four years at the club.
Rossi Juventus
In 1985 Rossi joined AC Milan and although he only scored two goals he went down as a legend as these goals came in a derby victory over Inter. He only spent one season at the club and then went on to play for Verona, and scored the 100th league goal of his career at the club and finally retiring with a record of 103 goals in 251 games, as well as 20 in 48 games for the national team.

The final word can go to the Italy manager Enzo Bearzot speaking after the 1982 World Cup. “I knew that if Rossi wasn’t in Spain, I wouldn’t have had an opportunist inside the penalty box. In that area, he was really good, really fast, always ready to fool defenders with his feints.”