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Player Profile: Raúl Meireles  

Raul Meireles
Full name: Raúl Jose Trindade Meireles

Position: Midfielder

Date of Birth: 17 March 1983

Birthplace: Porto, Portugal

 

Some players are filled with immense potential that remains unrealised throughout their playing days. Some are late bloomers who leave it late to make a name for themselves. Then there are those who have certain qualities that enable them to quietly pile up the honours. 

Thus is the case with Raúl Meireles, who added a Champions League medal to his bulging trophy cabinet following Chelsea’s 2012 triumph over Bayern Munich. Meireles has forged a career by bringing intelligence, energy and technique to the midfields of FC Porto, Liverpool and his current West London paymasters.
 

Cross-city move

A left-back turned defensive midfielder, the Boavista youth academy graduate got his first taste of professional football at Desportivo das Alves, where he spent two seasons on loan. Meireles played a total of 45 matches, scoring one goal for Aves before Boavista welcomed him back. After just 29 appearances for the Panthers, however, he had suitably impressed their rivals, FC Porto, who were rebuilding after their 2004 Champions League victory and snapped up the versatile midfielder.

However, Meireles was not quite on the fast track just yet, unable to secure a midfield spot and converted to left-back for a first season that ended with the Dragons relinquishing their title to Benfica. 
 

In bloom

The following year (2006/07) saw Meireles flourish as Porto completed the double, the midfielder’s committed displays making him one of the first names on the team sheet. Further silverware followed with Meireles stacking up three Primeira Liga titles and two Portuguese cups, until he signed for Liverpool for €13million in August 2010.
 

Scouse adventure

Meireles trophy count may have stalled, but his reputation was further enhanced during his solitary season at Anfield. The playmaker adapted seamlessly to the Premier league and won praise for his intelligent promptings and his eye for goal (he finished with five goals from 33 appearances). His displays were rewarded when he received the 2011 PFA Fans’ Player of the Year.

However, Meireles dropped to the bench for the start of the 2011/12 season and submitted a transfer request in late August 2011. He subsequently signed for Chelsea for €12million.
 

Champions League win

The footballing world works in mysterious ways, as Meireles will no doubt testify after his topsy-turvy 2011/12 season with Chelsea. Meireles left Liverpool to link back up with ex-Porto colleague André Villas-Boas, only for Villas-Boas to be sacked in March 2012 after a miserable Premier League campaign. With the season looking a disaster, Meireles came to the fore: scoring in caretaker-manager Roberto Di Matteo’s first game in charge and cementing himself in Chelsea’s first-choice midfield.

In a remarkable turnaround, Chelsea enjoyed a magnificent run of form that saw them beat Liverpool to win the FA Cup and vanquish Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. Meireles was suspended for the Bayern final, however, after picking up a second yellow card during Chelsea’s monumental semi-final second leg performance against Barcelona that saw the Blues knock out the previous holders on away goals.
 

International career

After distinguishing himself at under-16, under-21 and Olympic level, Meireles broke into the senior Portugal national team aged 23 when he helped the Seleccao secure a 3-0 victory against Kazakhstan in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

On the fringes of the starting line-up at Euro 2008, Meireles made himself a fixture in the Selecção starting XI during Portugal’s 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign and in the tournament itself in South Africa. His consistently high level of performance and adaptability made him one of the most influential players under both Carlos Queiroz and Paulo Bento. His partnership with João Moutinho will be key to his country’s hopes at Euro 2012 - as they will be expected to provide a platform for the likes of Ronaldo and Nani to play.

by Marco Pereira & Stephen Gillett (25/05/2012)

Club Appearances* Goals
Desportivo das Aves 42 1
Boavista 29 0
FC Porto 138 15
Liverpool 35 5
Chelsea** 28 2
     
 PORTUGAL** 55 8

* League appearances only

** Up to May 2012
 

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