|Birthdate:||13 Apr 1988|
|Birthplace:||Porto Alegre, Brazil|
|Joined United:||01 Jul 2007|
|United Debut:||01 Sept 2007 v Sunderland (H)|
He arrived with the billing: the ‘new Ronaldinho’. But upon his arrival at Old Trafford from FC Porto in summer 2007 most Reds were left asking: ‘Anderson who?’
After a wondrous debut season the Brazilian’s talents became well known not just in Manchester, but around the world. The Ronaldinho comparisons are inevitable given both players began their careers at Brazilian side Gremio, who Anderson Luis de Abreu Oliveira (to give his full name) joined at the age of just five.
But that’s really where the similarities end. Where Ronaldinho is all flicks and flamboyance, Anderson (or Ando as he is known to his team-mates) is bustling with energy and possesses an
eye for a defence-splitting pass. He has skill and technical ability in abundance, but his preference for midfield combat could bring you to question his Brazilian roots (more so if you spotted his dancing after lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy in May 2008!)
At Gremio, Anderson made his first appearance aged just 16. He is most fondly remembered for a wonder goal against Nautico in November 2005, which earned a 1-0 win and promotion back to the top flight. He also earned a reputation internationally, shining with Brazil at the 2005 U17 World Cup, where he won the Adidas Golden Ball for most valuable player.
Porto soon came knocking in January 2006, where he won the Portuguese Championship in 2005/06 and 2006/07, although his progress was hampered by a broken leg causing him to miss much of the latter campaign. Sir Alex couldn’t quite believe the reports coming back from his scouts, who rated the teenager as among the best prospects in the world. Upon further investigation, the Reds realised this was a player not to miss out on, and moved quickly to stave off interest from Barcelona.
Anderson wasn’t involved in the early matches of United’s 2007/08 double-winning campaign, but he soon made up for it. His competitive debut against Sunderland caught the eye before another fine display against Wigan (he
claimed to be the best player on the pitch) highlighted his true potential. He was outstanding in United’s 2-2 draw at the Emirates in November 2007, refusing to be bullied by Cesc Fabregas and his willingness to mix it with the game’s biggest names was again apparent at Anfield in December, when a lion-hearted display against Steven Gerrard was one of the game’s major talking points.
Anderson featured in nine of the Reds’ 13 games on the way to UEFA Champions League glory and held his nerve to smash home United’s penultimate penalty in the 6-5 shoot-out win against Chelsea in the final. He has continued to add to his medal haul – helping his country to bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, before playing his part in United’s Club World Cup triumph in Japan and then firing the trophy-clinching penalty in the shoot-out in the 2009 League Cup final win over Tottenham at Wembley. He also picked up his second Premier League winners’ medal in May 2009.
As he began his third season in a red shirt, the one thing that was missing from Anderson’s game was a goal, though it hadn’t been for lack of trying. But he finally broke that duck in his 76th appearance with a fine strike from the edge of the box against Spurs in September 2009. The remainder of the campaign was less memorable for the Brazilian as he failed
to hold down sustained starts or form. Further frustration came in the shape of a season-ending knee injury in the February win over West Ham.
Anderson didn’t return to action until September in the 3-2 home win over Liverpool, the first of 30 appearances in all competitions in 2010/11, culminating in another Premier League winners’ medal.
He signed a new four-and-a-half-year deal in December 2010, during a purple patch of form, and there was even a mini-flurry of goals at the end of the season, when he hit two against Schalke in the Champions League and another against Blackpool on the final day.
Anderson started 2011/12 in blistering fashion as part of an exciting new midfield partnership with Tom Cleverley, starting the first eight league games. However, from then on injury blighted his campaign once more and prolonged the United faithful’s wait to see his Old Trafford career truly take off.