Written by Stephen Byrne
The Fifa World Cup begins in Brazil on 12th June and we will be looking at Rovers’ connections with all participating countries.
Back in the summer of 1914, Rovers’ Southern League opponents Exeter City undertook a tour of South America and famously drew 3-3 with Brazil.
Similarly, Pelé was marked at Hillsborough by Don Megson, future Rovers player and manager, when Santos defeated Sheffield Wednesday 4-2 in October 1962. The future Rovers player-coach Colin Dobson was also in Wednesday’s side for that game.
Rovers, though, have never played Brazil. The one solid connection is that Alefe Santos was born in São Paulo in March 1995 and made his Rovers debut at Vale Park in November 2012.
As Rovers capitulated to a 4-0 defeat, Tom Pope scoring a hat-trick, one bright ray of hope from the game was Santos’ performance as a sixtieth-minute replacement for Fabian Broghammer.
The young winger scored five times in 25(+5) games for Rovers’ Under-18 side and helped them secure a memorable league and cup double during the 2012-13 campaign.
The first Brazilian to score a League goal against Rovers was Northampton Town’s Magno Silva Vieira. On loan at the time from Wigan Athletic, Vieira scored the first goal of his career after 31 minutes of the Cobblers’ 2-0 victory over Rovers at the Sixfields Stadium in February 2004, after goalkeeper Kevin Miller had missed a loose ball.
Prior to that, Santos Gaia, born in Brazil in September 1979, had played at centre-back for Exeter City in both their League fixtures against Rovers in the 2002-03 season.
Paul Tait’s goal earned a 1-1 draw at home to Exeter in September 2002 and Rovers gained a goalless draw in the return game at St James’ Park in March 2003.
Guilherme do Prado Raymundo, born in the Brazilian city of Campinas in December 1981, and formerly plying his trade in Portugal and Italy, played in both Southampton’s fixtures against Rovers in the 2010-11 campaign, scoring a late goal in Hampshire in April 2011, as Rovers’ narrow defeat to the Saints moved the Pirates a step closer to relegation to the basement division.
Brazilian-born goalkeeper Adriano Basso was between the sticks in both Bristol City’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy semi-finals against Rovers in the spring of 2007. Rickie Lambert’s forceful drive earned Rovers victory and a place in the final at the Millennium Stadium that April, where they lost in extra-time to Doncaster Rovers.
Other players have appeared for clubs in Brazil and played against Rovers. Amongst these are Alejandro Sabella, an Argentinian international who is manager of his country at the 2014 World Cup Finals and played for Sheffield United against Rovers twice in the 1978-79 season, as well as being with Gremio in 1986-87; and José Dominguez, a Portuguese international winger who was in Birmingham City’s side against Rovers during the 1994-95 campaign and was with Vasco da Gama in 2005.
A more interesting character may have been Harry Welfare (1888-1961), formerly with Liverpool, who was with Corinthians of Rio de Janeiro in 1915 and Fluminese two years later; like so many early footballing pioneers, Welfare never played against Rovers.
When Rovers played a friendly against FC Copenhagen in Denmark in July 2008, the hosts included in their side José Luiz Guimarães Sanabis, born in Fortaleza in Brazil in June 1976 and formerly on the books of Treze.
Jason St Juste, Leeds-born but a graduate of the Brazilian Soccer School in the United Kingdom, scored a sixty-second-minute goal when Darlington drew 3-3 at the Memorial Stadium in March 2005, Richard Walker scoring twice for the home side in that League fixture.
Three players called Brazil have also played against Rovers. Alan Brazil, a Scottish international striker born in Glasgow, was in the Ipswich Town side Rovers met in FA Cup-ties in February 1978 and February 1979, scoring twice in the latter.
Derek Brazil, a Dubliner, was in Cardiff City’s defence against Rovers in four League encounters between 1993 and 1995 and Gary Brazil, born in Kent, played for Sheffield United, Preston North End and Fulham against Rovers between 1983 and 1994, scoring once for Preston in an April 1988 fixture.