December 17, 2012
A JUNINHO OF THEIR OWN
Red Bulls sign Brazilian standout midfielder
HARRISON, N.J. – The Red Bulls on Monday announced that they had signed one of their targets for the 2013, Brazilian standout midfielder Juninho.
|Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh (above) on Juninho: "Aside from being a top dead ball specialist and a tremendous talent, Juninho is a fantastic professional both on and off the field."
At the age of 37 Juninho Pernambucano (his full name) became one of the oldest players signed by the 18-year-old Major League Soccer club. Lothar Matthaeus was 39 when he joined the MetroStars for the 2000 season.
He is not to be confused with another Brazilian named Juninho, who helped the LA Galaxy to the MLS Cup crown earlier this month.
The Brazilian won't be a designated player.
Juninho, who turns 38 on Jan. 30, has forged a reputation as a deadly dead-ball specialist who can turn free kicks and corner kicks into goals. The Red Bulls could use someone like that on their free kicks, where they have been dreadful the past two seasons.
He will be added to the team’s roster pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate.
A former Brazilian international who was a member of the 2006 World Cup team, Juninho joins the Red Bulls from Vasco da Gama (Brazil), from whom he received a reported sizable offer to remaining with the Brazilian First Division club.
“Juninho is a world class player who our Global Sporting Director, Gerard Houllier, and I have known and admired for many years,” Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said. “Aside from being a top dead ball specialist and a tremendous talent, Juninho is a fantastic professional both on and off the field. He is in great physical shape and we think he can make a positive impact for us in 2013.”
In his second and recent stint at Vasco da Gama, Juninho played 50 games since 2011 and scored 14 goals. He also played with Qatari club Al-Gharafa, helping his team capture the league title and he won player of the year honors.
Juninho performed for French First Division club, Olympique Lyonnais, from 2001-2009. He helped Lyon win seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles from 2002-08 while registering 100 goals in 344 matches. He is fourth all-time on the Lyon career goal list.
A veteran of the UEFA Champions League competition, Juninho, who played under Houllier from 2005-07, was named Ligue 1 player of the year in 2005-06 and was a three-time member of the Ligue 1 team of the year.
Juninho began his career with Sport in his native Brazil in n 1991 before heading to Vasco da Gama four years later. He won the Brazilian Championship with the Rio de Janeiro-based side in 1997 and 2000 and the Copa Libertadores in 1998.
The veteran midfielder made his Brazilian National Team debut in 1999 and earned 47 caps, recording seven goals. He retired from international soccer after the 2006 World Cup.