THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

NorthEast United FC sign former Portugal star Simão

NorthEast United FC sign former Portugal star Simão
NorthEast United FC sign former Portugal star Simão

Picture Courtesy: Hero Indian Super League (ISL) / IMG-Reliance

Former Portuguese international and 2004 UEFA EURO finalist Simão Pedro Fonseca Sabrosa, better known as Simão, has signed on the dotted line with NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) as their Marquee Player for the second season of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). The news was officially revealed by the club on its social media feeds on Thursday.

The former Atlético Madrid and FC Barcelona attacking midfielder, will don the number 20 jersey at NEUFC. Speaking at his contract signing, Simão revealed his excitement about coming to India and participating in the Hero ISL to NEUFC’s media team, “I am looking forward to this new challenge. India is a wonderful country full of rich culture and heritage. The Indian Super League has brought football in India to everybody’s attention and I cannot wait to participate in it.”

Simão shared that his decision to sign for NEUFC was based on several conversations with the club owner, John Abraham, “Why NorthEast United FC? I felt that it was the right time to take up a new challenge. Every conversation I had with John, made me feel that the club is one big family and that everyone would love to have me as a member. I also spoke to Capdevila (NEUFC’s marquee player for last season) who confirmed everything that John told me. I am very pleased to be a part of this family now.”

The ex-Benfica man also talked about his aims for the season, “I have had many challenges in the past. Every challenge has been different; the clubs, the fans and the countries. All of them were highly important to me in my professional life because I love football and everywhere I went, I gave it my all as a result of which, I won titles. I am training hard, every single day to be fitter and stronger before the season starts. Make no mistake about it, I come to India and to NorthEast United FC to win!”

NorthEast United FC’s owner, Bollywood star John Abraham, was visibly excited at having secured the ace footballer’s signature, “As a club, having a player of Simão’s pedigree as our marquee, is a great feeling. He has played at the biggest stage in some of the world’s most premier football competitions – the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro, UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. It feels good to have all that knowledge and experience on your side especially when it’s coming from a guy who has played for the likes of Atlético Madrid and FC Barcelona. I am sure Simão would love to let his football do all the talking! He is a winner and a proven attacking threat. I am positive that he will pass his winning mentality on to the rest of the team”

After he began his career at Sporting Club de Portugal, a breeding ground for talent like Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo and Nani, Simão was transferred to FC Barcelona at the age of twenty. In 2001, he returned to his native land by signing with Benfica. He became club captain and won the Portuguese Cup with the team in 2004, the Championship and the Supercup of Portugal in 2005. He then stood out as a key player, becoming the top scorer of the Portuguese championship in 2003 and bagging the Best Player honor in 2005. In 2007, Simão signed for 5 years with Atletico Madrid. The team won the 2010 UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup. With the national team of Portugal, he was selected 85 times and scored 22 goals between 1990 and 2010. Simão also has the distinction of having captained his country 8 times. He was a finalist at the European Championship in 2004. His last two stints were at Turkish club, Beşiktaş and La Liga side, Espanyol.

In all, Simão has racked up 486 club appearances and has found the net an impressive 102 times. He has also turned provider on 66 occasions highlighting his value at every club that he has played for.