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12th Feb 2014

JOE’s Forgotten Footballers: Kleberson

Surely a World Cup winner was destined to succeed at Old Trafford, right? Riiiigggghht?

Eric Lalor

Surely a World Cup winner was destined to succeed at Old Trafford, right? Riiiigggghht?

By Eric Lalor

In the World Cup Final of 2002 when Brazil beat Germany 2-0, one of the goals was set up by a midfielder, Klerberson. So impressive was his performance that Alex Ferguson went out and splashed six and a half million quid to secure his services for Manchester United the following summer. Another Fergie coup. Or so it seemed.

He was signed the same day as some lad called Cristiano Ronaldo (see pic below). We’ll try to find out whatever happened to him in another of these articles in the future. Kleberson didn’t start the first four games for Brazil in Japan/Korea, but did such a job on Paul Scholes when Brazil played England that Felipe Scolari played him from the start for the rest of the tournament.

Ferguson liked what he saw and bought him to replace the other South American success story that was Juan Sebastian Veron. Kleberson never really got going at Old Trafford. A good tournament, however, does not a world class player make. Remember Karel Poborsky?


He only played 20 games in two years for United, scoring two goals in that time. He nearly signed for Leeds United before going to Old Trafford, but decided to wait till his girlfriend turned 16 so he could marry her. Yes, that’s right. Far be it for us here to judge people, but moving to a different continent and climate with your wife who is barely out of nappies is probably not conducive to having a successful spell at a  big club like Manchester United.

He was shipped out to Turkish side Besiktas for a fee of just under three million pounds where he stayed for two seasons. He terminated his own contract after accusing the Turks of not paying his wages.  Off he sailed back to Brazil to join the aristocrats, Flamengo, but he was unable to start immediately with them. Reason being, Besiktas, his former employers, took umbrage with Kleberson effectively just resigning from them.

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, the compensation was sorted and he landed himself with a four month ban for his conduct. Apparently you can’t just tear up contracts and leave. Who knew?!

His spell with Flamengo was an unhappy one and he went on loan to his first ever club Atlético Paranaense where he continued to sprinkle the magic dust, culminating in the club being relegated. He was signed by Bahia after that and on his debut scored against former club Flamengo and after one season, he left yet again, but this time to join the MLS gravy train and the Philadelphia Union on loan.

For some reason, Scolari was a fan and picked him yet again for the World Cup squad in South Africa. He only played once though, coming on as sub against Chile.

Kleb, as we like to call him is now back at his hometown club Bahia. We like to think the fans of that club chant the name of the club in the style of the woman who says “Ah Heyor!” which is the kind of thing Manchester United fans say when they hear his name mentioned nowadays.