Deco, the return of Portugal’s playmaker

June 14th, 2008 - 2:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Neuchatel (Switzerland), June 14 (DPA) One thing is clear from Portugal’s two games so far at Euro 2008: Luiz Anderson da Souza “Deco” is back at the top level of world football. “He is the brain of the Portuguese team,” said Czech national coach Karel Bruckner. “He is a high-quality player, he knows how to take responsibility.”

About to turn 31, the Brazilian-born player is back to his best form.

His intelligence to be always in the right place, his ability to generate spaces with or without the ball, his sense to increase the pressure at the precise moment and his courage to take risks even if he sometimes misses have turned him into the engine behind Portugal’s game, away from the charisma and the adverts of others better-loved by the cameras.

“Nobody tries like Deco. It is very easy to play football without trying anything, without taking any risks. That is why Deco’s individuality is the one I treasure most in football,” said coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The Brazilian Scolari is the man who called Deco up to the national team amid criticism from no less than Portuguese superstar Luis Figo.

But the coach is not only behind the success in his past, but also in his present and perhaps even his future if the rumours that he wishes to take him to Chelsea, where Scolari takes over in July, are to be believed.

“At his club he did not have time for a necessary recovery and he accumulated injuries. We are accumulating care,” Scolari said of national team work.

Since he got to the Portugal camp at Viseu prior to the Euro, Deco has been doing special work devised by national team doctors and physiotherapists, including massage and differentiated training among other precautions.

“This season was very difficult for me. I never had time to recover well. I was out of the rhythm of competition, and I am improving little by little. The important thing is I feel well,” the diminuitive midfielder stressed.

However, part of the answer as to why Deco is once again the dazzling player of not so long ago lies within his environment on the pitch.

“With Portugal I can play with more freedom than with Barcelona because Petit and Moutinho, who have defensive characteristics, are watching my back,” he explained.

Moreover, the midfielder’s range of action is not limited to the pitch. He is a squad leader in both emotional and football aspects.

“He is always in a good mood, he is always talking to players,” says Paulo Ferreira, a friend of Deco’s since they both won the Champions League with Porto in 2004.

His influence cannot be overestimated. During the warm-up prior to the key game against the Czech Republic on Wednesday, Deco talked a lot to Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We need them a lot in terms of attacking play,” Deco would say later about the conversation. “He always wants to have the ball, but he has to be a bit patient because we need him to be one-on-one. If he comes to the centre too much to look for the ball he is not close to the box, which is where we need him,” Deco said.

Amid doubts as to whether he is set to follow Scolari to Chelsea - with whom he has reportedly already signed a contract - or former Porto coach Jose Mourinho to Inter Milan, Deco preferred to focus on enjoying his on-the-pitch resurrection with high goals.

“I am here for glory,” he said.

If Deco continues to play as he has so far in the tournament, the path to glory may be considerably shorter.

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