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Super Star Profile: Roberto Carlos Print E-mail

Friday, 14 October 2011 00:00

Written by Simon Wright

Roberto Carlos is a Brazilian international football (soccer) player, who is mainly remembered for his swashbuckling performances for Brazil and Real Madrid from the mid Nineties through to the mid Noughties.  

Career highlights have included being a World Cup winner and a triple Champions League winner but perhaps his most lasting legacy is the fact that (along with fellow Brazilian Cafu) he has helped redefine the role of fullbacks in the modern game.

Roberto Carlos started his career in his homeland and earned a move to one of Brazil's strongest teams, Palmeiras, in 1993. He went on to win the Brazilian league with Palmeiras in 1993 and 1994 and attracted talent scouts from Europe. A move to one of Europe's top leagues was inevitable and so, in 1995, he was off to Inter Milan in Italy. After just one season with Inter, however, he was on the move again, this time to Real Madrid in Spain. Real are the most successful club team in European history and it represented a wonderful opportunity for the young Brazilian to establish himself on the world scene.

Whilst sometimes described as a wingback, Carlos has played most of his career as a left back and this was the role that he took on both with Real Madrid and with Brazil. Blessed with good pace, great athleticism and an attacking mentality, Carlos made a name for himself as a rampaging left back, often getting beyond the forwards in his desire to join the attacks. There are lots of fullbacks today who play in a similar fashion, such as Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy and Patrice Evra.

However, in the early to mid Nineties, the typical role of a fullback was still primarily to be good at defending. Brazil's renaissance during this period, however, was based on having two fullbacks who were prepared to attack at every opportunity. Roberto Carlos and Cafu were able to do this due to the presence of holding midfielders (such as Dunga) but their success has now been copied by many other successful sides. The change in style for fullbacks was also made possible by rule changes that have clamped down upon physical contact. Suddenly, with tackling almost outlawed, the key is to have quick players who can intercept the ball and who are happy to make ling-bursting forward runs to link with the forwards.

Brazil had won the World Cup in 1994 without Roberto Carlos but he featured in the 1998 and 2002 finals, being on the losing side in 1998 and on the winning side in 2002. Meanwhile, he had also become a key component in one of the most successful Champions League teams of all time. He helped Real Madrid to win the European crown in 1998, 2000 and 2002. He also won the Spanish league four times with Real Madrid, between 1997 and 2007 and was one of the club's so-called Galacticos, the superstars that were alleged to wield considerable power in the dressing room.

Another feature that we will remember Roberto Carlos for is his penchant for taking free-kicks. He was blessed with a powerful left foot but, it has to be said, that his accuracy left something to be desired. Nevertheless, when they were on target they often resulted in stunning goals. They certainly contributed to his tally of 47 goals in a Real Madrid shirt and 19 goals (from 125 appearances) in a Brazil shirt. Earning that many caps for Brazil is another sign of how highly rated Carlos was, considering the options that are available to the world's premier soccer nation.

In 2007, Roberto Carlos moved from Real Madrid to Fenerbache in Turkey, brining an end to an eleven year association with Real. It might be seen as him winding down his career but the fierce rivalry that pervades Turkish football means that it still offers a challenge to this most decorated of players.

When Roberto Carlos hangs up his boots, he will be able to look back with great satisfaction on a career that delivered so much. The highlights must include winning the World Cup in 2002 and those three Champions League wins with Real Madrid. The low was probably Brazil's very lame defeat against France in the World Cup final of 1998. The talent that Carlos possessed means that he would have been a successful player in any era.

However, it was perhaps fortunate that his career coincided with rule changes that have placed the emphasis more upon attack rather than defence, as his game was undoubtedly suited to that style. His defensive attributes were slightly more modest and it is likely that in previous decades managers might have tried to turn him into a left winger rather than a left back, forcing him into competition with even more skilful players such as Rivaldo.


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