“Everything suggests he is going to be a superstar, a prodigy, as he has undisputable quality,” said Mario Zagallo, the legendary Brazilian World Cup winning player and manager, when asked about his country’s latest sensation Anderson Luis de Abreu Oliveira.
Praise does not come much higher in Brazil. Zagallo, known as “The Professor”, holds one of the most valued opinions in the country. He is not alone in getting excited about Anderson’s potential, and it is widely predicted in Brazil that the youngster will one day succeed Ronaldinho as the star player of the national team.
The next Ronaldinho
The similarities between Anderson and the Barcelona superstar are not limited to both player’s long hair, silky skills and dazzling footwork. The two stars came through the ranks at Porto Alegre side Gremio, and ever since bursting onto the scene Anderson has been compared to his idol. With Gremio spending the 2005 season in the Brazilian second division, Anderson’s rise to stardom came mainly with his achievements for his country at international youth tournaments. After helping Brazil to the final of the South American U-17 Championships in April 2005, Anderson won the “Adidas Golden Ball” award for his performances at the FIFA U-17 World Cup later in the year.
His career at Gremio was brief, with only a handful of first team appearances to his name and all of them coming before his 18th birthday. However, he is remembered for scoring one of the most important goals in the club’s recent history, getting a spectacular solo winner as the two-time South American champions secured promotion back to the top flight with a 1-0 win over Nautico in November 2005.
Word of Anderson’s talent soon reached Europe, and FC Porto beat off stiff competition to bring him to Portugal in January 2006. He made his debut two months later, giving him enough time to make his mark during Porto’s title triumph, and he became one of the Dragons’ most important players in the opening months of the 2006/07 season.
Despite his age, Anderson is a remarkably complete footballer. With all the skills and flair of the finest Brazilian footballers, he is also quick, powerful and possesses incredibly high energy levels and a tireless work rate. He has expressed a preference for playing in a wide left position, but is becoming increasingly impressive in central midfield, where he has shone for Porto in the Champions League.
Brazilian World Cup winner and former FIFA World Player of the Year Rivaldo is in a good position to assess Anderson’s ability. “He’s very good, a huge talent, but you need to be patient with him. His development should be controlled, giving him encouragement, but everything done calmly. We’re talking about a youngster who has the qualities to be a great player.”