In the latest episode of a series lamenting the premature demise of players who were once regarded as prospects, Goal places the spotlight on Portugal’s Ricardo Quaresma
By Thierry Nyann
Ricardo Quaresma, once touted as one of the game’s most promising talents, was bred at the famed academy of Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon alongside a certain Cristiano Ronaldo and soon launched his senior career with the Verde-e-Brancos.
ONCE UPON A TIME | Quaresma was the people's favourite
A move for the winger to Barcelona followed in the same year Ronaldo transferred to Manchester United.
It did not last long, though, as Quaresma returned to his homeland in 2004, this time to play for FC Porto as part of the deal that involved Deco going the other way. He moved from Camp Nou on the premise that he was not interested in playing for the Catalans so long as Frank Rijkaard was manager.
At Porto, he became the mainstay in attack and helped the Dragoes to lift the Super Cup against their arch-rivals Benfica, a feat inspired by Quaresma's first memorable display for the club. That occasion saw him score his debut goal, one that set him on the path to becoming one of Europe's hottest properties once more.
Quaresma is an astute player on the wing whose dribbles can often prove nothing short of dizzying. As a modern forward, he has got it all. He is - or perhaps was - pacy, tricky and efficient in front of goal but like most upcoming stars, he was to imbibe the trade in a masterful way. He needed to learn to be selfless and become a team player. Heavily criticised initially at Porto for being selfish and frequently trying to dribble past defenders rather than making the simple pass, he gradually began to incorporate his team-mates into his game and, by his third season, had become a fan favourite and a key component of the squad.
A few more years with the two-time European champions saw him garner a reputation as one of the most sought-after and feared players on the continent. Inter Milan were the front runners in the race for Quaresma's signature and eventually beat the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid to it in the summer of 2008. He was decisive in his first Serie A match against Catania, with one of his trademark trivelas resulting in a Giuseppe Mascara own goal. The game finished 2–1 to Inter. The showboating part of Quaresma's game was something Jose Mourinho, coach of the Nerazzurri at the time, was not too proud of, however, and that limited the exciting midfielder's playing time at the San Siro. In fact, the ‘Special One’ categorically demanded that he does more for the team to increase his prospects.
|At a time his boyhood team-mate Ronaldo has cemented his legend for both club and country, Quaresma, who turns 30 next week, is polishing his Afrosiatric language and mastering the Arabian arts in the Gulf instead of plying his trade among Europe's elite
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Chelsea came attempting to rescue Quaresma from the misery he found himself in at the San Siro, yet the player clearly had to do more in London to warrant a place there. His peak days were long past and the aura surrounding him had started to die down, thus news of him signing for Dubai’s Al Ahli after a largely forgettable two-year spell at Besiktas proved not too surprising.
At a time his boyhood team-mate Ronaldo has cemented his legend for both club and country, Quaresma, who turns 30 next week, is polishing his Afrosiatric language and mastering the Arabian arts in the Gulf instead of plying his trade among Europe's elite and featuring in the Uefa Champions League.