NORTHEAST UNITED gave their fans a pleasant surprise today as they signed their marquee player for the upcoming ISL season. Occupying the prime spot on their roster this time will be Portuguese star left-winger Simão Pedro Fonseca Sabrosa. The 35 year old from has played top division football across Europe since 1997. He has represented the Portugal national team 85 times over 12 years during 1998-2010. Much alike NEUFC's marquee from previous season Joan Capdevilla, Simão is coming to ISL after a 2 year stint at La Liga club Espanyol.
After spending 5 years in the youth system of Primeira Liga side Sporting Clube de Portugal, Simão was promoted to its first team at the age of 19. In the 2 seasons he spent at Sporting, he earned 53 caps and scored 12 goals. He earned a reputation for his speed up front and deadly set-pieces. In 1999 he moved to Barcelona under manager Louis van Gaal. But it was back in Primeira Liga, for Benfica, that he won his first silverware in senior club football, as the Águias, as Benfica are often referred to by their supporters, won the Taça de Portugal, the country's premier cup competition, in 2003-04. The very next season they went on to win the Primeira Liga.
In 2007, he was signed by Atletico Madrid for a fee of 20 million euros, where he soon became in-expendable in the starting line up. Two seasons later he was given the captain's armband, and he lead the team to a historic Europa League title that very season, scoring some crucial goals along the way. Later on he played at Turkish Super Lig club Beşiktaş for a season before moving back to La Liga, playing at Espanyol till the 2013-14 season. His overall club record boasts of 122 top division goals for a total of 490 appearances.
Simão got his national team debut at the age of 19 and went on to earn 85 caps for the Portugal national team. He scored 22 goals along the way. He represented his country in 2 World Cups, stepping down from national duty in 2010 for personal reasons. He was part of the squad when Portugal finished runners up at the European Championship in 2004.
The inclusion of Simão coupled with Sanju Pradhan and Kondwani Mtonga gives NorthEast United a formidable attacking line up in the upcoming ISL. Although they are still missing a competent centre forward, there will be plenty of chances to address that at the upcoming Domestic Draft. Since Simão hasn't been played any professional football for the whole of 2014-15 season, the staff will have to toil hard to make sure he is in shape before the tournament kicks off in October. A longer preparatory camp may be in order, but keeping in mind the amount of experience and world class skill Simão brings to the table, the longer Indian players get to spend training and playing with him, the better.