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Player Profile: Nuno Assis  

Nuno AssisFull name: Nuno Assis Lopes Miranda
Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: 25 November 1977
Birthplace: Lousa, Portugal

A promising future mixed with an unfortunate past is the best way to sum up the career thus far of Nuno Assis. Once heralded as one of the brightest midfielders in Portuguese football, the Benfica player has so far earned more renown for off-field controversy than his on-field achievements.

After steadily honing his talents in the lower leagues with his hometown club of Lourinhanense, Sporting Lisbon recognised the crafty skills of the midfielder and signed him in 1999. Loan spells at Alverca and Gil Vicente followed, but he failed to convince the Lisbon club of a permanent stay, and he was sold to Guimaraes without making a single appearance for the Lions.

A new club and a new start saw Assis grab the opportunity by the throat. He was a regular for three seasons racking up over 100 appearances and scoring 9 goals. In 2004/05 Assis was enjoying another fine season, scoring two brilliant goals in a virtuoso performance to single-handedly knock FC Porto out of the Portuguese Cup. Benfica had seen enough and made a mid-season swoop for the creative midfielder.

Championship triumph

The dream move for Nuno Assis was sealed and he quickly gained the confidence of coach Giovanni Trapattoni, making a vital contribution during the second half of the season as the club broke a barren 11 years without a championship triumph.

The following season started with a bang as well as Benfica picked up the Portuguese Super Cup. Assis was on schedule to have another good campaign as he made 10 appearances under new coach Ronald Koeman up to the winter break, before the player’s world caved in. He failed a random doping test after a match against Maritimo on 3 December 2005.

Assis pleaded his innocence and received vigorous support from the infuriated Benfica president, Luis Filipe Vieira, who claimed that the testing laboratory delayed the tests too long, causing the samples to become degraded and leading to inaccurate results.

A messy and drawn-out legal battle ensued involving the Portuguese Football Federation, the National Anti-Doping Council, the Uefa Control and Disciplinary Body and the World Anti-Doping Agency, but the upshot was Assis was forced to sit out one season.

Back in action since the tail end of 2006/07, the skilled midfielder is keen to get back into his rhythm and form a strong understanding with Rui Costa that will certainly be pleasing on the eye for all fans of cultured football.

Guimaraes return 

At the beginning of the 2006/07 season, it appeared that Nuno Assis was going to cement his place back in the Benfica starting XI as the midfielder made a total of 21 appearaces - including all  Champions League qualifying and group stage matches. But the second half of the season forced the player to suffer another setback as a combination of injuries removed the player from any further progress.

It only got worse for Assis the following season when Jose Antonio Camacho returned and was appointed the club's new head coach. The one-time promising midfielder was used mainly as a second-half substitute and was rarely given the starting role he was once accustomed to being granted.

Midway throught the season Camacho was replaced by fomer Benfica great Fernando Chalana, but Assis' luck would fair no better as the player's role had diminished quite significantly by then, forcing Assis to look elswhere for regular football.

During the summer of 2008, Benfica decided to transfer the player back to where he came from as Assis would start his second spell with Vitoria Guimaraes. The midfielder signed a three-year deal with the minhoto side, hoping to prove that the Lisbon club gave up on him too early.  

by Marco Pereira (last updated 07/03/2009)

Gil Vicente262
Vitoria Guimaraes10811
Vitoria Guimaraes**105

* League appearances only

** Up to 1 March 2009

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