With a blind goalkeeper, a trialist, a guy who decided he preferred cricket to football and then a player so bad they named him twice in the team already, the one thing we were missing was a world Champion from our starting XI.
In the summer of 2003, United signed a world Champion and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo but on that day it was near certain that it was the former who was destined for superstardom.
Kleberson began his career on the pitch for Atletico Paranaense and his performances guided the team to the Brazilian league title in 2001. He name was been mentioned with the big teams in Brazil and his selection in Scolari’s squad to the 2002 World Cup was no surprise. Despite not starting in the first our games, Kleberson was given an opportunity and took it with both hands as the job he pulled on Scholes saw him earmarked for a starting berth. He was in the starting lineup in the Final as Brazil won the World Cup for the second time in three editions.
With Kleberson, a player gifted with natural ability, being linked with a move to one of the top European Leagues, clubs like Barcelona, Celtic, and Leeds went head over heel to sign Kleberson but when Sir Alex comes calling you cannot reject a move. United signed the World Champions for a fee of £6.5m in the summer of 2003.
AT OLD TRAFFORD
Kleberson suffered an injury at United early on and failed to make the impact that he was expected to make at the club. He played just 20 games for the club over two years scoring just two goals. A meagre return from the man expected to dominate the Premier League.
Maybe the expectation of being a world beater at United was too heavy on the shoulders of the Brazilian. To make things even more difficult for the midfielder, he was often played out of position. However, his position in the list of United flops is secure and he is right at home there.
It was a great shame as he could have been an ideal partner to Michael Carrick going forward. He even spoke of being homesick in England.
Kleberson forms an ‘ideal’ partnership with Eric Djemba-Djemba in our midfield.
Fed up with the Brazilian, United sold him to Besiktas for less than half the fee commanded two years prior. A fall out at the Turkish side saw him return to Brazil where more disappointment followed. He did win another Brazilian Championship and was included in the 2010 Brazil squad for the World Cup. He played only 8 minutes in South Africa. It was a strange comeback (if you want to call it that) for a man who spent the previous four years out the squad.
Kleberson had a spell in the NASL side Indy Eleven. He became the top goalscorer for the club after scoring 8 goals in his first season there.