Today we’re wishing a happy 44th birthday to former Roma, Juventus and Brazil midfielder Emerson!
One of the most efficient and elegant players to ever grace Serie A, he was nicknamed ‘Puma’ for his cat-like tendencies when hunting down opponents. Equally, he was a gifted passer and a powerful shooter.
Emerson began his journey to the top with Gremio, winning a glittering array of trophies between 1994 and 1997, including two Brazilian cups, a league title and a Copa Libertadores.
He then signed for Bayer Leverkusen and played a key role in the club enjoying the best spell of their existence, with two runners-up finishes in the Bundesliga and a run to the Champions League quarter-finals.
His form prompted Fabio Capello to make him the cornerstone of his Scudetto-winning Roma side in the summer of 2000.
Although he didn’t come cheap at €18m and couldn’t play until October due to his initial lack of a non-EU passport, he was the glue that kept the Giallorossi together for the final few months of the season.
Emerson would end the 2000-01 Serie A campaign with a Serie A winner’s medal, although a shoulder injury cruelly prevented him from captaining Brazil to glory at the 2002 World Cup.
He followed Capello to Juve in the summer of 2004, in a transfer that caused huge controversy as Roma fans branded him a traitor for moving to their title rivals.
Despite that, he formed a formidable midfield partnership with Patrick Vieira, which yielded two more Scudetti prior to the FIGC writing them off.
‘Puma’ again linked up with the coach at Real Madrid in 2006, the pair leaving the Old Lady after they were demoted to Serie B for their role in the Calciopoli scandal.
He bagged a Spanish title in his one and only season for Madrid, before returning to Italy with Milan in 2007, although his two campaigns at San Siro were marred by injury.
Those physical problems stayed with him for the remainder of his career and he was forced to retire aged just 34 while winding down his career back home with Santos.
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