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The rags to riches story of Man Utd's Bebe

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Paul Fletcher | 19:01 UK time, Thursday, 12 August 2010

Tiago Manuel Dias Correia, better known as Bebe, was taking part in the 2009 European Street Football Festival in Bosnia when he joked with his team-mates that he would one day be greater than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 20-year-old still has a long way to go before he achieves that ambition but his transfer from Portuguese side Vitoria de Guimaraes to Manchester United for a reported £7.4m, subject to a medical, nonetheless marks a stunning rise to prominence.

The midfielder's story has taken him from a shelter for homeless young people on the outskirts of Lisbon to one of the world's biggest football clubs in little more than a year.

It is a remarkable story.

Bebe was signed by Portuguese third division side Estrela Amadora in the summer of 2009 after previously playing for amateur side Loures. The move came months after Bebe had been one of eight residents at the Casa do Gaiato shelter invited to play for the Cais team in Bosnia.

bebeteam595.jpgBebe is second from the right in the back row with the Cais team in Bosnia

Cais is an organisation in Portugal that is perhaps best known for publishing a magazine inspired by the Big Issue. But it also tries to use football to get homeless kids off the street.

It certainly succeeded with Bebe. Cais director Henrique Pinto, who travelled with the mixed squad of four men and women to the Bosnian town of Foca, remembers Bebe as a humble and kind man, who wore boots that were old and worn.

"He was a very simple sort of guy who did not have much," Pinto told me. "But he made a huge impression at the tournament. In terms of ability, he was the team. But he did not try to keep the ball. He involved the others. That is the image I have of him."

Asked about Bebe's move to Manchester, Pinto added: "I think he is supposed to travel to England on Friday but I doubt whether he has much luggage to take with him."

Bebe did not stay long at Estrela Amadora. His chance with them had come because the Lisbon club needed to regroup after suffering a severe downturn in circumstances. They had finished 11th in the Portuguese top flight in 2008-09 but were relegated to the third tier following a string of financial difficulties.

However, after one full season, Bebe was signed by Vitoria, one of Portugal's leading clubs, on 24 June, penning a five-year deal. The midfielder expressed the hope that he could break into the first team but little did he know what was about to happen.

After impressing during pre-season for Vitoria, scoring a superb solo goal in Sunday's win over Braganca, he suddenly discovered he was a wanted man, with both Manchester United and Real Madrid reportedly showing interest.

It was United who got in first, Sir Alex Ferguson acting on an apparent recommendation from former assistant Carlos Queiroz. Ferguson met Bebe for the first time on Tuesday and United made an offer that triggered a release clause in the player's contract.

"I am very happy," said Bebe, displaying a nice line in understatement. "I had the dream of playing for a major club and that dream has come true."

Standing at 6ft 3in tall, Bebe is thought to be athletic and strong in the air but, in all honesty, not that much is known about him, even in Portugal.

"I don't think Bebe believed something like this would happen to him," added Pinto. "From having virtually nothing, he has turned himself into something radically different."

Bebe has clearly come a long way from his humble beginnings. Pinto does not know why the midfielder initially entered the Casa Do Gaiato shelter but he told me that he had been there for a long time.

"The institution is based on human values - being simple and honest, of working as a team - and that is something that is passed on to people who live there," said Pinto. "In his attitude towards life and other people around him, I do not believe that Bebe will become a person like Ronaldo, who I do not like."

Nonetheless, the sensational chain of events that have taken Bebe to the Theatre of Dreams mean he will be subject to immense changes in his life. They will take him to a new country and see him subjected to an intense pressure and scrutiny that he has not previously experienced.

Pinto, an intelligent and thoughtful man who clearly cares deeply about the plight of homeless people, is delighted by Bebe's success and telephoned him on Thursday to offer his congratulations. But he does harbour concerns about the 20-year-old's new life.

"It is easy to forget where you come from and become distracted by the things that shine, only to later discover that they are not gold," said Pinto.

If Bebe is to continue his meteoric rise and become a better footballer than Ronaldo, then he would be well served to heed Pinto's words.


  • Comment number 1.

    Good blog and a heart warming story. A signing that really has slipped under the radar slightly, yet has all the makings of a Hollywood script. Be interesting to hear more about this young man, and his path from the streets to Old Trafford. I look forward to seeing him play, and wish him all the best.

    And this gave me a wry smile

    "In his attitude towards life and other people around him, I do not believe that Bebe will become a person like Ronaldo, who I do not like."

    Pinto sounds like a good judge of character ;)

  • Comment number 2.

    A rare heartwarming story in the world of multi-million pound signings and big egos.
    Interesting blog, thanks paul.

  • Comment number 3.

    What a story! A modern day rags to riches Epic waiting to happen. Imagine if he came on at half time and scored the winner in the champions league final or something... 'Bebe' the movie by 2012?

  • Comment number 4.

    £7.4 million?!? If you add up all the speculative "bargains" that really aren't that cheap in real terms, we could have bought some established quality over the last 3 seasons. That said, I hope Bebe makes and impression, as it is quite a story...

  • Comment number 5.

    It's fantastic to hear of such a rags to riches story. I like comments made by Pinto concerning the distractions of fortune and hope that it doesn't change the young man he has described. Heaven forbid he develops an orbitable ego like Ronaldo...

  • Comment number 6.

    He is not going to play right away, not for 1 more year at least. I think SAF is building the squad for the future. Owen & Berbatov are definitely not the the future of the club. And every 20 year old signing doesn't mean a regular starter for the team right away, for now at least.

  • Comment number 7.

    I am glad that we have made someones life a better life but he obvs has talent because if he didnt real and utd would not have looked at him. He will need to settle down as the change is huge for him. The fact that we signed him on just a few pre season apparences and portugal scouts and a refrence from carlos shows that he is new on the scene so we cant really complain. We cant say weather he looks good or bad but we can see his is tall and is said to be very fast and is 2 footed and has a good shot according to sir alex shows he has got some good raw material. He has just turned 20 so is still young: so surley he needs a chance.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    That's such a wonderful story. I'm a Liverpool fan, but I don't care. Hope that kid gets better than Ronaldo, just to see his face when the pretty boy realises he's not the top dog in his country anymore.

  • Comment number 10.

    Wonderful blog Paul.

    SAF is brilliant and knowing when to take the presure off his players and when to apply it. I think he will put his arm around this kid and his expereince of nurturing youth will be very important.

    I hope Nani and Anderson, who seem to be playboys, don't have too much of an influence... since it would probably be negative.

  • Comment number 11.

    Great work Fletch,

    It does seem rather fanciful in the current climate to punt £7.4million on someone untested at the highest level. That said, Bebe's story is truly inspirational, and I hope he does well.

    Although I've seen 'Bebe' the movie - reminds me of an ex...

  • Comment number 12.

    That was a good read

  • Comment number 13.

    Nice story - I hope that SAF looks after him. It would be a shame for him to turn into an odious human being like Ronaldo.

  • Comment number 14.

    Nice article Paul. Best wishes to Bebe at his new club.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 15.

    Interesting story but with Bebe and Chicharito in, what becomes of Berbatov and Owen?

  • Comment number 16.

    There is something wrong when a player signs for one club for free and then 5 weeks later signs for another for millions.
    Also,hasn't he broken the UEFA/FIFA rule of being with 3 clubs in the same year?

  • Comment number 17.

    #10 Chucky

    important point re. nani and anderson - i pray they dont mess him up too much! hopefully Giggsy secretly is fluent in portugese to help mentor the kid

  • Comment number 18.

    #16: Players are unable to play competitively for 3 clubs within a season. He was released by Estrela Amadora at the end of last season and only played pre-season friendlies for Vitoria.

  • Comment number 19.

    £7 million is a lot for a player who played in the 3rd tier of any country - good luck to the lad though as he didn't set the price.

    He could be the next David Bellion :D

  • Comment number 20.

    Bebe is the same age as the Da Silva twins, Rafael and Fabio, isn't he? And speaks the same language. So he has them to keep company with at first.

    I imagine that having been a street kid and then living in Cais Shelter, Bebe would be mature for his age. His story reminds me a bit of Evra's in his early years: though Evra was not a street kid, he had to fend for himself at an early age. Evra seems a strong and stable personality to me, and has been playing very well for United. Lets's hope Bebe will too.

  • Comment number 21.

    Is he in the starting line up against Newcastle? A game against a weak side, such as Newcastle, is a good way to give a green player some vital 'in at the deep end' experience.

  • Comment number 22.


    Nice to know you're treating Monday's game with all the seriousness of a kick around on a sunday afternoon.

    Great story, truly inspiring and another case of demonstrating that homeless people are not monsters you can ignore but are people too.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great story and a great blog, I hope it gets updated the more that is found out about him.

  • Comment number 24.

    Rags to riches?
    7.4 million for a kid who has done virtually nothing?
    I swear the world has gone mad!
    I wish him well but a touch of reality would be welcome!
    I have watched Bournemouth struggle to stay afloat for (seemingly) forever but this price tag divided by 4 would have secured the future of my team and a couple of others.
    This is the malaise of English football!
    If you want fresh eggs, raise your OWN chickens!

  • Comment number 25.

    @15 two points: 1. Bebe is considered more of a wide player (thats from SAF in his press conference yesterday) rather than a striker as has been mis-reported. 2. its called having a squad, berbatov (especially) and owen will contribute fully this season.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nice to have the information, but from what I understand he has only been playing professionally for 1 year. I doubt he could be any way near the finished article, but what amazing fun it would be if he was the next Pele. Logic would dictate this is a signing for 3 years down the road. 20 years old, training this year, cup teams next year, featuring in the first team season after. Wondering if Alex will ever see this kid as a first team regular.

  • Comment number 27.

    What a great story, and I wish the kid all the best. Rather then worrying about the effect that Nani et al will have on Bebe, perhaps we should hope that maybe a lad who's been in the places that Bebe has might actually rub off well on the others?

    I'm an Arsenal fan, but I wish him all the best. People like Bebe deserve all the good things that happen to them.

  • Comment number 28.

    7.4mil for someone who has only played at a non-league standard. If they'd known about him a month before he'd have been free. This seems to have been done on an absolute whim and shows just how ridiculous the money is in football today.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just wait until he gets lured to man utd's big spending rivals in a move dictated by money.

    I can already see the sequel . . .

    Bebe: Pig in the City

  • Comment number 30.

    @24 look the lad has been identified as having bags of potential. if he succeeds at united then great £7.4m will seem a snip. if he doesnt then he'l be moved on for about the same price. if you are making a point about united should be looking to buy english players from the lower leagues before taking a punt on a largely unknown foreign player then im sure they would if there was someone with potential. However, it is unlikely. Most young players who are destined for big things are identified and snapped up by academies. united themselves have many young english and british players in their academy. but at the end of the day its all about quality. unless players are identified as having the quality then thats just how it goes. Also, i dont think you can really point the finger at united for not bringing english and british players through, or signing british players for that matter. Scholes, Beckham, Butt, Wes Brown, Neville(s), rio, carrick, hargreaves, smalling, owen (all eng), fletcher, giggs, jonny evans (british), John o shea, dorron gibson (irish)-all of these are either current 1st team squad players or were.

  • Comment number 31.

    Has nobody noticed the similarities with the story of Michael Oher who plays American football for Baltimore?

    I think Sir Alex must of saw the film "the Blind side" with Sandra Bullock. So I doubt Man U will make any money on movie rights!!

  • Comment number 32.

    estrela da amaddora gave him his first break in football,his wages there would,nt have been great but good enough to make him comfortable,compared to the homeless shelter he must have felt like a millionaire.
    amadora has lots of financial problems and could,nt pay some of the players wages,the same thing happened two years ago when they were in the top league,the players were still turning up for training in their porches,mercedes and bmw,s as was evident in a tv news story about the seems as here that the players have more power than ever before,
    the clubs go down and down the leagues but the players become free agents
    and move free to other clubs,amadora will now end up in the amateur leagues but their now free players keep the mercks and porches.
    this is what happened to bebe this summer as amadora got into more finacial woes and bebe became a free agent,vitoria offered him a five year contract and he would have been on good money in the top league and in one of portugals top six clubs.
    bebe was now set up with a five year deal at vitoria and very well off,the move to utd will move him up from well off to extremely well off.
    he could have sat on the bench at vitoria or now at utd for his five year contract and never have to work again,good to see bebe make it but i cant help feeling there is something seriously lobsided in the football world.

  • Comment number 33.

    Excellent article.

    Fascinating life story (fairytale elements) but one also raising serious questions. I can't help agreeing with the questions raised by #24 & #28, especially with regards to money.

    There seems a grotesque irony to me about the money spent on his transfer fee & how the player has been traded like a commodity. If you ask me, considering his background, he might have done better to stay in Portugal. He now faces the challenging prospect of adapting to life in another culture. Yes, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity with one of the biggest clubs in the world, but that brings its own challenges and expectations.

    From the gist of the article, I wouldn't be surprised though if Bebe continues to have a link with Cais regarding financial support.

  • Comment number 34.

    Fascinating story Paul - from street football to Theatre of Dreams in one year..incredible. I hope the boy can teach some of United's more exhibitionist stars some much needed humility.

    Wonder why United so keen to announce his reported £7.4m price buy-out clause given their reluctance to disclose figures for previous buys?

  • Comment number 35.

    is this player a forward or a midfielder? this article and the other re. this on the website seem to differ on this

  • Comment number 36.

    @30, You are missing the point.
    7.4 million is nothing to the big clubs, it is a distant mountain to the clubs in the lower divisions.
    I watched a kid with unbelievable talent get destroyed by a "coach" whose son played in the same team. His son had to be the goal scoring hero so this other kid got shoved back into the centre of defence.
    That kid with unbelievable talent turned out to be a pretty good central defender, made it to League one, but should have been the next Bryan Robson.
    The "coach" worked for peanuts (and produced monkeys).
    His son was a less than average non league player.
    It is all about perspective and (of course) money!

  • Comment number 37.

    Now then - thanks for your comments.

    More than anything I just hope that this fascinating story has a happy ending. By that I don't mean that Bebe becomes some kind of world beater with a bagful of medals - although that would be nice for him - but that when his career finishes he is a well-balanced and happy person.

    The more I think about the radical changes that his life is about to undergo, the more I wonder whether he has the tools to deal with them. I think it is crucially important that he has the right people around him.

    The very best of luck to him.

    JoC (post 34) - I am not sure whether they did. It might have been the other club in the deal.

    collie21 (post 26) and others - it will be interesting to see what plans United have for him. The guy has only played third division football in Portugal so far.

  • Comment number 38.

    benwfrd123 (post 35) - I guess that shows how little we know about him! I understand that he is an attacking player, though I think he has been playing in wider positions during pre-season.

  • Comment number 39.

    Is the £7.4 million not performance linked, surely?? And not the up-front fee??

    That sum will be paid as a maximum if the lad goes on to play regularly in the Man U 1st team, win trophies and caps for his country??

    If so, £7.4 million isn't a ridiculous fee (in context to others :-D ...I mean of course it's a ridiculous fee as transfers seem to be).

  • Comment number 40.

    Paul, the £7.4m fee doesn't seem to be quoted anywhere on Vitoria's Portugese site - ...although I admittedly was reading it through google translate which isn't necessarily accurate;) They do say he had the choice of 'four' different clubs though and was 'free' to choose who he wanted to go to?

    Also the un-named BBC Sport report you've linked to in the blog just quotes a buy-out clause 'reported to be around £7m' fee. I'm not having a go at all but is it a case of an unamed source quoting a figure and everyone just running with it. How can we be sure he wasn't picked up for a much much lower figure and we aren't being misled by the usual hype surrounding these transfers?

  • Comment number 41.

    Clearly there is some dodginess going on here. United would not spend £7m on a kid unless they have been watching him for months, if they ha been watching him and he was "free" they would have at least got him on trial.

    Something has clearly gone on here probably with money changing hands in order for him to sign for Vitoria and then get sold on. Perhaps he was "owned" by a third party before which is why in football terms the deal as a "free".

  • Comment number 42.

    JoC - You raise an interesting point. The fact it is not on Vitoria's website does not mean they have not released the information is a less formal manner. Certainly their chairman has been quoted talking about how happy he is with the deal.

    hackerjack - I do not think there has to be anything dodgy about this deal - and I have not heard anything about a third party having anything to do with Bebe's registration.

  • Comment number 43.

    #42 Too true regarding the website, where did you see the chairman quote?

    I've had a quick dig around all the 'major' news sites and they all seem to be quoting this 'reported £7.4m' but none say what the source is. A few play it safe by saying 'around £7m' whilst tribalfootball quote '£8m' with a sizeable chunk going to former club Estrela Amadora? Another says the 4 other interested sides were Premier League teams. It really is a strange story given Bepe's background but no doubt we'll see his true ability soon enough heh?

  • Comment number 44.

    A few more points on Bebe - he scored 40 goals at the European Street Football Festival, apparently making him the top scorer.

    He is the son of immigrants from the Cape Verde islands off west Africa, who entered the shelter at the age of 10 because his parents could not care for him.

    "It is a fairytale when you read about his background," said Sir Alex Ferguson. "But it is one of those things that happens when you identify someone with potential."

    Jorge Paixao, his coach at Estrela Amadora, said: "He's come through street football. These days players tend to come up through clubs' youth teams but he doesn't have any of that training.

    "He's an old-style player. He learned what he knows in the street and he has a natural creativity which is a bit irreverent and sets him apart."

  • Comment number 45.

    Usual remark from a Portuguese mainland citizen about a Madeiran, he doesn't want Bebe (meaning Baby in Portuguese) to become like Ronaldo (Madeiran island). Madeiran footballers have suffered a history of discrimination by the Portuguese football authorities, they have produced magnificent players in the past that never got into the national side simply because they were Madeiran and here is mr Pinto saying the he does not like Ronaldo. All Ronaldo has done is given a show of some of the football that we all crave to see, beautiful football. And don't forget that Ronaldo came from a similar poor background as 'the Baby' or Bebe. Bebe has a lot of growing up to do!

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    Great story. Also this is nothing now days "£7 million is a lot for a player who played in the 3rd tier of any country - good luck to the lad though as he didn't set the price."

    Nike is known for signing young players for a lot more before they hit a basket, tennis or golf ball as a pro or show to the world if they got the talent.
    Same with any team now days. They believe such a player does have great potential and they are taking a chance and they do it before another team grabs the player.

    Case in point TIger Wood with Nike. Think they paid him over 20 or 30 million before he became a pro. And for a team think of Lewis Hamilton with McLaren and all the £ million they invested in him since he was 14 yrs old.

  • Comment number 48.

    The story just gets better...I'm really looking forward to seeing him in action, he sounds a real one-off character and could be a massive cult figure a la Cantona. I hope the quote about him bit a 'bit irreverent' doesn't mean he has a touch of the Ronaldo's 'mickey-taking' trait about him though?

    It's interesting that after the World Cup debacle we've become obsessed with coaching kids 'properly' from an early age, getting them into academies etc when there obviously are gems like Bebe still out there out there with no formal footie education at all. It would save so much money if clubs went out and found more of them and gave them a real chance, although their tactical ability might be a concern?

  • Comment number 49.

    "Has nobody noticed the similarities with the story of Michael Oher who plays American football for Baltimore? "

    Is that real football?? or Handball :) Why do they call that north american game football when is played with their hands. Is more like rubgy by played with lots of protection by grown up man who are afraid to get hurt.

  • Comment number 50.

    Can't complain about spending £7 million odd on a player who has come from the lower leagues as we have also spent £12 milllion on Smalling this summer. Who 2 years ago was playing for maidstone. Hopefully they'll both go on to be great United players.

  • Comment number 51.

    Knowing SAF and Manu I do believe that they will care for this person as they have done many times with other players, they will protect him from outside influences and gradually bring him into the reality of the EPL and the life changes it brings with it, so Bebe take notice of that great Scotsman and you will have a good footballing life at Old trafford.

  • Comment number 52.

    And number 51, that was Ray O'Neill not my partner Anne McCardell that wrote this, she hasn't a clue about football, I have followed |United since 1945and stil do. I don't know how her name got in there!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    Ronaldo was not known untill the preseason against Man Utd. Sir Alex signed him in a hurry because other clubs would sign him if he doesn’t. What if this guy has potential more than cristano? Let’s wait and see, it’s too early to judge the price tag. Chicharito is little known when utd signed him and he seems a good bargain.

    This was what sir Alex said on Friday "Our scouting work was done when he was at Guimaraes. We made our decision on what we saw in those games. Other clubs were starting to hover on the boy so we made a quick decision and said, ‘Why don’t we go for it?’" Football is becoming more difficult and risk like this help you in bargaining the best talent otherwise some other club would take that risk for you

  • Comment number 54.

    Rags to riches, are we sure we're not comparing United against City?

  • Comment number 55.

    Slightly sentimental there Paul, but an interesting story as a whole. With the set up at United I can see them bringing him on well and at his own pace. With a few young portuguese speakers at the club that will support him also initially. His raw natural talent is something we in Brazil see regularly, non-acedemy talent is rare to find in the deveoped world.

    The few images I saw of him I thought he looked (in appearance rather than skill just yet) like Socratese.

    Good luck to him.

  • Comment number 56.

    The footage of him in action shows him to be a tough and technical player, who can play on either wing, as a striker, or an attacking midfielder.

    The way he plays is very different to the usual players and reminds me a little of Cantona, in that he tries unusual things. Obviously footage of this nature usually highlights moments which are taken from a few years, but with Bebe it is encouraging as it was taken over 3-4 pre-season games, notably one against Benfica where he impressed. The Portuguese league has come on leaps and bounds over the past few seasons, and is similar in speed to the Prem, so the experience he gained during his brief foray will help him to adjust, but the way he plays indicates to me that he will not have trouble adjusting to this league.

  • Comment number 57.

    Amazing and inspiring story irrespective of what ever the fee was. Best of luck to Bebe - Old Trafford has over the years developed some serious players as well as of course played the bucks for the stars. Carlos giving Sir Alex the nod is enough incentive for Old Trafford to go speculative or so it seems. Reading an earlier comment about Chicharito being "litte known" was a bit off the mark. Maybe little known in the UK, but well known in his home country and folks here in the US know who I am talking about (Manchester United have expanded their fan base here in the USA big time among the Hispanics!).

  • Comment number 58.

    Is he a striker or a midfielder?

  • Comment number 59.

    First of all, good blog. A nice bit of information into a fairly unknown player..

    I think too many people are commenting on the amount United have paid for him. There are a few video clips of him on YouTube and he looks like a quality raw talent; strong, fast, tall, confident and doesn't look to bad with the ball either!.. From any other league people would be saying it was a good price! (Lets not forget Ronaldo was unknown in England before he moved for around £12 million)

    Another topic which seems to be popular is him settling in to a new country which I find pointless to talk about; Man Utd have 4 Portuguese speaking players, of a similar age, in/around the first team that will help him with settling and the language barrier..

    So he sound like a nice bloke, looks like he's got some potential; I hope he excels at United!

  • Comment number 60.

    Honest truth. I bought Bebe on Championship manager 09 and by 2013 he was the best player in the world, worth 55 million and had inspired Everton to 3 treble's in a row. Should be a great player.

  • Comment number 61.

    #60. You ARE joking. You signed him on Championship Manager so he must be good????

    It's NOT's just a game.

    Kevin Watson, Al Bangura, Ryan Williams and Tonton Zola Moukoko are all brilliant on various versions of CM but weren't great in reality.

    Good luck to the guy...he'll need it

  • Comment number 62.

    The next time someone tries to sell me a Big Issue I'm going to suggest they become a professional footballer instead...

  • Comment number 63.

    In that sweet Bebe shares my birthday, is a dreamer, a team player(well that's what they say), I like the guy already. The descriptions of him are endearing. Hopefully, he'll be chesting balls before the Stretford End this season. Fairytale stuff. I hope the tears are visible dripping down the sides of my words.

  • Comment number 64.

    Thats an encouraging story atleast bebe can achieve something from his talent.'welcome home bebe'

  • Comment number 65.

    I wish the lad well--he's certainly earned every ten pence he gets.

  • Comment number 66.

    That's £7,400,000 taken out of English football to buy a player from Portugal who has only ever played at a level akin to League 2 (at best). It may be a great, heart warming, personal story but from an English footballing point of view it's the complete opposite.

  • Comment number 67.

    That's a great story, thanks for bringing it to us. It adds some perspective and added interest as we see his career in England begin, well worthwhile in the telling.

    Mongo, don't worry about the odd 7.4 mill. Madrid sent 80mill for Ronaldo and the City owners are pumping hundreds of millions in (you'll feel it soon in your petrol price).

  • Comment number 68.

    Nice story, but just because he has been bought by Manchester United, there is absolutely no guarantee that he turns into a top player. Only about 20% of United signings even become first team regulars.
    Its typical of United fans and others to get over excited about the latest thing, forgetting that most of the former "next big things" turned out to be Djemba Djemba!

  • Comment number 69.

    Considering he looks a great athlete we can only hope that talk of his cantona-esque interpretation of the game is true!

    Hopefully 18-24 months down the track we see him playing with the big boys.

    Hasta la vista BeBe

  • Comment number 70.

    Like most here, I sincerely hope this does turn out to be a fairytale with a fairytale ending. However, let's put this into a little context. United paid a lot of money (at the time) for an unknown Portuguese teenager in Ronaldo. Ultimately, that turned out to be a huge success. Since then United has paid a lot of money for 4 more unknown Portuguese-speaking teenagers in Nani, Anderson and the da Silva twins. It's arguable whether any of them are value for money.

    Secondly, whilst 4 fellow Portuguese language speakers will help Bebe settle, will they turn out to have compatible personalities? Here, the key factor is not the aforementioned four, but SAF himself. I'm guessing that whilst Bebe will probably not make the first team this year, neither will he be loaned out. SAF will keep him close to ensure his character is grounded and moulded in the style of Giggs and Scholes, and another individual to be mentioned below. The youth team coach is Solskjaer and the backroom staff include trusted men to do the job.

    I read that one of his Portuguese mentors on learning that Bebe was bound for Old Trafford advised him, 'Do you want to become Gascoigne or Rooney?' Harsh, but spot on. It's long been speculated how differently Gazza would have turned out had he signed for United under SAF.

    So there are two issues to focus on here? Will Bebe turn out to have the potential United hope he has, and will SAF and his team be able to mentor him into developing his character in order to bring out the best of his talents? No one can say at this juncture, but my take is that he's at the right place to maximise the possibility.

  • Comment number 71.

    A wonderful human interest story.

    I strongly believe that if any manager is going to protect him, and allow him to develop while also helpig him to keep his feet on the ground and his head on straight, the it is Fergie.

    Bebe has certainly come to the right club.

    Don't expect to see him much this season ...... maybe a few substitute appearances.

  • Comment number 72.

    What i find so interesting about this signing was not that it occured but that nobody, and this includs all dailies, reported about it. We read on a daily basis y is about to sign x and a is competing with b over c; only these signing rarely seem to happen! But here it happened and not a word was previously written about a possible signing or even that the guy (Bebe) was on anybodies "short list" and the same appears to occur with most of the signings by the major clubs!
    Hence one can come easily to the conlusion that most of the transfer rumours reportes about are basically not even "rumours" but just some fantasy that an editor has conjured up on a rainy day!

  • Comment number 73.

    A really nice story about how a persons life can be changed i wish him all the best,I think you could do a brilliant story on wayne harrison paul.He was a teenager signed by joe fagan for £250.000 from oldam he was the most expensive teenager in europe at the time 1985.He was regarded as being the next king of the kop and hailed as a wonderkid,unfortunatly at the tender age of 17 he had some terrible luck.He had a accident where he crashed into a greenhouse and lost a considerable amount of blood which he should have died if not for the army,due to the ambulance service being on strike.Wayne was plagued by injuries and at the age of 22 he was told his career had ended without playing a 1st team game.It would have been nice to see him play considering he was the most promising teenager in europe.Ithink you could do a cracking story on him paul you seem to bring these stories to life and your reads are brilliant.

  • Comment number 74.

    Is he midfield or an attacker? View the youtube piece and judge for yourself. For me, he's quite clearly an attacking midfielder. Interesting in the article that someone refers to him as very much a team player, that's exactly what hit me watching the video, that he is a very unselfish player.
    One curious comparison. A very famous baseball player by the name of Babe Ruth was also an orphan. If Bebe is half as successful as Babe, I for one will be very impressed. Good Luck.

  • Comment number 75.

    Paul, or any one else for that matter, any comments on the following: Bebe is managed by a company whose CEO is super agent Jorge Mendes and major shareholder is Carlos Quieroz. Two months ago Bebe is available on a free transfer but man united didn't want him then. Must have been rubbish two months ago. Suddenly he's signed up by Vitoria and almost immediately afterwards signed by Man Utd sign for £7.5M. Now let's have a look at some other players signed by United from Fergie's best mate's agency: Nani 17m, Anderson 18M, CR9 12M, Manucho 4M, Possebon 3m. Football is clean as a whistle isn't it?

  • Comment number 76.

    What are you on about? Oh the four Portuguese speaking footballers you have mentioned I would say only Anderson has really been a disappointment. Rafael and fabio are only 20, maybe 21 now. Against Bayern before Rafael got sent off Ribery barely got a touch of the ball (and inexperience got him sent off, and he'll learn from it. As for Fabio its hard to say he's been a disappointment when Evra is in front of him and played 50-odd games for United last season, as for them being expensive, I think you'll find there transfer was a combined fee of 5.5 million.

    Also your saying they are bad influences but what do you know of the da silva twins personally, all I know is Fabio married his childhood sweetheart and is captain of the Brazilian U21s, so I would say he is pretty responsible.

    As for Nani, i could understand if it was this time last year you where saying he wasnt any good, but really he had quite a good season last season, injuries permitting. ANd also the amount of time Nani has single-handedly destroyed Arsenal shows he is a quality player

    And anderson, yeah he hasnt been anywhere near as good as the player we all expected, but the other three have been. If United where to sell those players now the only one they would loose money on is Anderson

  • Comment number 77.


    I dont really see the issue, how I see it is that this agency has there Super Agent, and then CQ. He probably acts as a scout of sorts telling them what players look like they might make it. You mentioned 5 players who United has signed through this agency, but it is important to point out that CQ was still at Utd when they where signed, so its not like he was trying to get one over on SAF.

    And the players you pointed out only Nani could be considered a success, but you must remember possebon broke his leg in one of his first matches for Utd, and barely anyone comes back the same after a long term injury like that.

    As for Manucho Utd signed him after he scored a crazily good goal in the African cup of nations, he looked big powerful and fast, and was only 4 million. I reckon SAF felt like he was getting a player with the raw material of someone like Didier Drogba or maybe even Saha (who when fit and on form, was one of the best strikers in the Premiership), and decided to gamble on him, if it worked brilliant, if not it was only 4 million.

    As for Anderson, we all thought he was going to be the next big thing. I live with a Brazilian and the media over there honestly believed he was the next ronanldinio. Obviously they where right, but just in the partying sense and not really in the quality.

    I just think your reading too much into it. Somebody had a great business idea, CQ agreed with it. This is probably because non-EU players need to play in Europe somewhere so that they can gain citizenship (a way around work permits), and they thought with all this talent coming in we'll scout them, sign them up if we can and then make a profit by being there agents. That's life

  • Comment number 78.

    76. Couldn't agree more. Plus, for all these people passing judgement on Ronaldo, I'd be very interested to know what their view of him was when he was tearing Arsenal apart at the Emirates in the Champions League Semi. Short memories.

  • Comment number 79.

    well...i'm happy to hear such Cinderella story and i just can't wait to see him play in the first carling cup tie."UNITED WE ARE"

  • Comment number 80.

    Great story especially in today's world of crazy transfer fees & greed
    that has infected the game. Hope Bebe really makes it & the club look after him off the field.

  • Comment number 81.

    Where does 70 say the Da Silva twins are a bad influence? Can't see it, unless he mentions it in an earlier post.

  • Comment number 82.

    Amazing story indeed, i think fergie is the right kind of manager to nuture his talents aswell. All to often we've seen money go to players heads which can destroy talent.

  • Comment number 83.

    @ 24 utebog

    Well we can always hope they'll pay that much for Pitman.... lol. Or Fletch?

    Great game Saturday!

    As for Bebe, what a great story. I really hope he does become the next Ronaldo, that would be a great story! Good luck to him!


  • Comment number 84.

    #72 I think the answer to your concerns is that this is no normal transfer. The boy has risen to prominence through a street football tournament. He was not brought through a clubs ranks but he generated interest.

    Still, there would have been questions about whether he would adapt to the professional game, and so the scouts waited. Bebe impressed and United pounced before big bad Real could make a move. Not all good players are found at an early age (think of Les Ferdinand driving his van).

    #70 Nani, Anderson, and Ronaldo were not previously 'unknown' players. They had all carved reputations at Portugal's top sides and in Europe. The Da Silva twins were less known in Europe but they ripped apart an under 18s (or 19s can't remember) tournament scoring for fun from full back. Think Fabio ended up top scorer or something equally daft.


  • Comment number 85.

    Fabio got 3 goals in the 2007 u17 world cup, Brazil's joint top goalscorer for the tournament - it got him some press put it that way

  • Comment number 86.

    Nice article. Looking forward to one day seeing what he can do... Although that day probably wont be this season.

  • Comment number 87.

  • Comment number 88.

    Do not know why you people decry Ronaldo so much... Because you believe all the paper hype... This guy has a very good side to him,if you bothered to find out as he does not shout about it... Also one bloody good footballer... Ask United fans if they would have him in thier team..

  • Comment number 89.

    Great story, great blog.

    Football needs stories like this, now more than ever.

    The 'Theatre of Dreams' seems like the logical setting for this tale...

  • Comment number 90.

    Why is your conntry so great? The answer is simple-you venture into the unknown and conquer the 'future" for the next generation. Bebe is the unknown and the "furure" is more glory for United. By the way, who knew where the Great George Weah played until he conquered Europe and the World. Bebe could just be the next George Weah!

  • Comment number 91.

    Great story, and even if he doesnt make it at United, United produce players that can make it elsewhere at a decent level.

    I think the cirticism's of Ronaldo are a bit unfair - people forget that the first thingn he did when he moved to United, was buy his Mum a nice house!!

    He may not have the tactical know-how having not played much professionally, but he will certainly be grounded and be able to look after himself having his background. Besides, sometimes worrying too much about tactics can be detrimental anyway. Some of the greatest players play purely on instinct. Maybe this is part of the confusion as to his position? he tends to drift around a bit?

  • Comment number 92.

    £7.4m for a player who he has never seen play before....

    Is this the Kamikaze spending that SAF has mentioned recently?

  • Comment number 93.

    Well Bebe certainly does not deserve such a harsh treatment from the media, especially before he has played and proved himself as a good/bad player. I think we should wait and watch before having an opinion.

    Here is a wonderful read to support my arguement


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