Former Portuguese international Simao Sabrosa has been unveiled as NorthEast United FC's marquee player for the second season of the Indian Super League (ISL).
The former Atlético Madrid and FC Barcelona attacking midfielder will don the number 20 jersey for the ISL franchise.
Simao expressed his excitement at coming to India and can't wait to participate in the ISL.
“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,” he said, speaking at his contract signing.
Simao revealed that his decision to sign for NorthEast 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.
The club's marquee player and captain for the inaugural edition of the competition, Joan Capdevila, also influenced the 2004 European Championship finalist's decision.
"I also spoke to Capdevila who confirmed everything that John told me. I am very pleased to be a part of this family now,” Simao added.
The former Benfica man made his intentions clear for the upcoming season, insisting that he's always taken a new challenge seriously and that he will play to win.
“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," the 35 year-old explained.
"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,” he declared.
NorthEast United FC’s owner, John Abraham, was visibly excited at having secured the signature of the Portuguese ace.
“As a club, having a player of Simao’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. I am positive that he will pass his winning mentality on to the rest of the team," he said.
After he began his career at Sporting Club de Portugal, a breeding ground for talents like Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo and Nani, Simao enjoyed stints at Barcelona, Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Besiktas and Espanyol.
In all, Simao has racked up 486 club appearances and has found the net an impressive 102 times.