Kepler Laveran de Lima Ferreira. What's that! Okay that's the name of the football player above,better known as Pepe. The high point of his career was his 10year stay in Real Madrid,making history winning the very highest trophies in European football,as a key element of the Madrid team. A no-nonsense, all-action customer when on duty as a central defender. Well,yes, people don't forget his other side–his theatrics to win fouls for his team. By and large his career has been an enviable one for club and country.
I know the saying, "football is all about goals", so strikers and midfielders are major attractions on news headlines. I dare to go against the tide somewhat today, as I bring you an element of the recently concluded 2nd leg,round of 16 Champions League match between Juventus and FC Porto. A match that saw Juve knocked out this season's Champion's league, by an overall better Porto side famed for their organization.
Enter Pepe,the "element", captain of this Porto team. He was such a rock at the heart of that defence,with his energy,game reading,guile and even speed when not with the ball. By the way he is 38yrs these days,but like someone rightly said, he played like a 23yr old with his immense energy throughout the match. If Porto is organized-which they are- Pepe has a lot to do with it. I think that Pepe's performance in this match is a free training course for defenders world-wide. I mean his team wasn't playing against an ordinary team in Juve,who parades a state of the art goal-machine in Cristiano Ronaldo and other world beaters.
Rio Ferdinand(Man United,2002-2014) a world class defender in his time was mightily impressed too,he said: “ If I were a coach,I'd take the footage of Pepe's game against Juventus and show it to all young central defenders so that they understand his positioning,his willingness,his communication,his attention,his sense of risk taking and the use of his body. Nowadays, young defenders are good with the ball but without the ball? Pepe showed a true masterclass and all youngsters should follow his example.”
There you have it,need I say more? Maybe we should round off with Pepe's joy that day,he said: “The work of the whole team was important to go through in a passage that was fully deserved. It's hard to explain by words the way we managed to react [playing with ten men]. Today we showed lots of character: the players were focused and that made it easy for us."
For a change, let's extol the work of art in defending.