Zé Roberto with Al-Gharafa in 2011.
|Full name||José Roberto da Silva Júnior|
|Date of birth||6 July 1974|
|Place of birth||São Paulo, Brazil|
|Height||1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Playing position||Left back / Midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only
Zé Roberto started the youth ranks of Palestra de São Bernardo but it was while playing for Portuguesa, as a left-back, that he became known throughout Brazil finishing as runner-up in 1996 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A.
He then joined Real Madrid in January 1997 for a brief spell, where he helped them win the 1996–97 Spanish league championship. He was also part of the Madrid's 1997–98 UEFA Champions League winning squad, scoring his only goal for the club in the opening group match against Rosenborg BK, before moving back to Brazil to play for Flamengo midway through the season. In an interview in 2012, Zé Roberto spoke of his decision to leave Madrid because of his ambition to play for Brazil at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France and had limited opportunities to prove his talents in Spain.
He joined Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 1998. It was at Leverkusen that he really made a name for himself, fast becoming a popular figure at the club. During his four-year stay, Bayer enjoyed their most successful period, finishing as runners-up in the German Bundesliga on three occasions.
On 4 December 2001, he opened the scoring with a curling free kick against Deportivo de La Coruña in the 64th minute, as Bayer comprehensively beat the Spanish side 3–0 in the second group stage of the Champions League. Following Bayer's victory over Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on 9 April 2002, Zé Roberto announced that he would be joining former teammate Michael Ballack at Bayern Munich. Despite the transfer distractions, Zé Roberto helped Bayer reach the final of the Champions League on 15 May 2002, losing 2–1 to former club Real Madrid in Glasgow. In four years at the club, Zé Roberto appeared in 113 league matches scoring 16 goals.
Bayern Munich and SantosEdit
In May 2002, he joined Bayern Munich for a reported fee of €12 million, signing a three-year deal, linking up with emerging German talent Sebastian Deisler and former Leverkusen teammate Michael Ballack. With Bayern he claimed the domestic league and cup double three times between 2002 and 2006. He found his starting spot threatened under new coach Felix Magath and left the club in 2006. Following the announcement that he would not return to Bayern Munich, he publicly criticized the club's style of play and predicted struggles if changes were not made.
On 31 August 2006, Zé Roberto signed a one-year deal with Santos and helped the team to win the 2007 Campeonato Paulista. The win was his first title in a Brazilian competition. He scored seven goals in the Copa Libertadores 2007, where Santos reached the semi-finals. During his time with Santos he appeared in 48 official matches scoring 12 goals, playing for the first time in his career as an attacking midfielder.
On 22 June 2007, Bayern Munich officially announced the return of Zé Roberto on a Bosman transfer. He had completed his medical with the German club a day before and was offered a two-year contract.
He stated, "It was as if I’d never been away," en route to winning a fourth domestic double with the Bavarians. During Bayern's 2007–08 season, he scored five goals and was influential in Bayern's domestic and cup double. The revitalised Zé Roberto demonstrated all his newly acquired skills by scoring five goals and forming a rock-solid partnership with Mark van Bommel in his new role in central defensive midfield.
He made a successful start to the 2008–09 season – scoring four goals in his first 11 starts. He would conclude his second spell at the Bavarian club appearing in 59 league matches scoring nine goals.
Zé Roberto left the club at the end of the 2009 season after Bayern executives refused to offer him a new two-year deal.
His contract with Bayern ran until 30 June 2009. The club offered him a contract until 2010, though Zé Roberto declined. Bundesliga side Hamburger SV officially announced signing Zé Roberto to a two-year contract on 2 July 2009. But Der Spiegel reported Hamburg actually paid €4 million sign-on fees to Zé Roberto's agent Juan Figer, which Bayern also paid €1 million in 2007. In May 2011, Zé Roberto confirmed that he would not renew his contract with the German team, because he wanted a longer contract than the new one offered by the club.
Return to BrazilEdit
After a season with Qatari outfit Al-Gharafa, Zé Roberto returned to Brazil in May to join Grêmio, helping them finish third in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. On 10 December 2012, he expressed his desire to retire at Grêmio after extending his contract by a further year.
On 9 December 2014, Zé Roberto left Grêmio as the club decided not to renew his contract.
On 22 December 2014, Zé Roberto joined Palmeiras on a one-year contract, valid until 31 December 2015. He was immediately appointed team captain, helping them win the 2015 Copa do Brasil with four goals scored in the competition. In the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Palmeiras finished in the 9th position. He signed a one-year extension to his contract on 19 October 2015, that will keep him in the squad until 31 December 2016. On 28 November 2016, he won his first national championship in Brazil, declaring after the final match against Chapecoense that he would not retire at the end of the season. Eventually, on 9 December, he signed a new contract with Palmeiras, keeping him at the club until the end of 2017. On 24 November, he announced Palmeiras match against Botafogo two days later would be the last of his career and that he would retire.
Zé Roberto was part of the Brazil squads at the 1998 and 2006 World Cups. In 1998, he helped the Seleção to the final, making one appearance, but was an unused substitute as Brazil lost to hosts France 3–0. He was unceremoniously left out of the World Cup-winning squad in 2002. Zé Roberto scored Brazil's third and final goal in a man of the match performance in Brazil's second round match against Ghana in the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.
He also represented Brazil at the 1997 and 2005 FIFA Confederations Cups in France and Germany respectively, winning both. He played the full ninety minutes of the final in 2005, as Brazil overpowered arch rivals Argentina 4–1 on 29 June 2005.
Style of playEdit
Capable of playing both as a left-sided defender, and in several midfield positions, Zé Roberto was a quick, hard-working, and versatile left-footed player, who in his prime was known for his technique, vision, and efficient style of play, as well as his dribbling, passing, crossing, and tackling ability. He started his career as an attacking full-back or wing back on the left flank, occasionally functioning in a box-to-box role in midfield; he was later deployed as a left-winger, and subsequently in a more creative role, as an attacking midfielder, although he struggled to find space in the national side in this position, due to the presence of several other world-class playmakers in the squad. During his time at Bayern Munich, he excelled alongside van Bommel as a defensive midfielder, due to his ability to read the game, break down opposing plays, and subsequently start counter-attacks; his adeptness at this new holding role led him to be called up to the Brazilian national team once again, where he also formed an effective and consistent defensive midfield partnership with Emerson.
Zé Roberto is married to Luciana, with whom he has three children: Endrik, Miriá, and Isabelli.
|Real Madrid||1996–97||La Liga||9||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||9||0|
- Real Madrid
- Bayern Munich
- Bundesliga: 2002–03, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2007–08
- DFB-Pokal: 2002–03, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2007–08
- DFL-Ligapokal: 2004, 2007
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