When a 17-year old Ricardo Quaresma burst onto the scene with Sporting Lisbon in the 2001-02 season, a lot was being said about the winger.
With some stellar showings from the still raw footballer during his first couple of seasons with the club’s senior side, many hailed him as the heir to Luis Figo. The man they believed would replace the Portuguese legend in the national team.
Scoring three goals in 28 games during his first season, Ricardo Quaresma helped Sporting to a league and cup double.
Having risen through the academy, Quaresma’s discovery had excited the fans of the club. He was already being touted as the next big thing in the football world by the Sporting Lisbon faithful.
A season later, after an he shone in the 2002/03 season, Barcelona came calling. The Catalan giants reportedly paid €6 million for the-then 19-year-old winger, with midfielder Fabio Rochemback heading the other way in a loan deal.
With great things expected from the young Portuguese, Quaresma became overwhelmed during his time at Barcelona. Scoring only once in 22 appearances, Ricardo Quaresma fell out with manager Frank Rijkaard at the end of the season, bringing an end to his turbulent spell in Spain.
A move back to Portugal ensued, with Porto snapping up the youngster in the summer of 2004. Quaresma started his Porto career on a bright note, scoring against Valencia in the UEFA Super Cup, as well as the winner against rivals Benfica in the Portuguese Super Cup.
As time passed, Quaresma seemed to have rediscovered himself in a Porto shirt. His incredible dribbling skills were always a problem for opposing defenders. Possessing a bagful of tricks creating panic among defenders, the trivela became his signature move, a skill that involved striking the ball with the outside of his foot.
Despite initially mixed reactions from the Porto faithful at first, Quaresma’s performances for the club soon saw him become a fan favourite. It wasn’t surprising then, when the big clubs came calling once again for the Portuguese international.
In the summer of 2008, Quaresma moved to Inter Milan. Would this be his last stop before on road to stardom?
With former Sporting Lisbon teammate Cristiano Ronaldo establishing himself as one of the best footballers in the planet, many had predicted Quaresma to do the same. Unfortunately for Ricardo, things didn’t quite pan out in the manner hoped.
After a rather dismal start to his career in Milan, Quaresma found opportunities limited. He was often accused of overdoing his tricks, of ending bright moves with his selfishness on the ball.
Pretty soon, he found first-team appearances eluding him. A loan move to Chelsea didn’t help much. Despite manager Jose Mourinho offering him a chance to redeem his career after his return from the Blues, Quaresma failed to impress his boss.
His overuse of the trivela drew criticism from many quarters, including manager Jose Mourinho. It was quite evident that the Portuguese winger no longer featured in Inter’s future plans.
He was eventually shipped out to Turkish outfit Besiktas in 2010, looking to revive a career that had taken a backward spiral.
Here, the Sporting Lisbon youth product enjoyed a decent first season, scoring 11 goals in all competitions. However, in his second season with the club, Quaresma failed to make any significant contribution to the club’s quest for a major title. After clashing with manager Carlos Carvalhal during the season, he reached a new low with the club.
In October last year, he was accused of urinating in the Besiktas locker room. A month later, he was arrested in Lisbon for assaulting a police officer. Besiktas finally released Quaresma from his contract in December, six months prior to its expiry, after growing frustrated with the player.
Despite speculation linking him to a return to Portugal, Quaresma signed for Dubai-based club Al Ahli last month on a free transfer in a lucrative move.
During his unveiling, Quaresma bizarrely declared he knew nothing about his new club, raising questions about the exact reasons for joining the club.
Now away from the glare of the European media, this gives him the opportunity to play under considerably less pressure; however, it is no secret that Quaresma’s quest to become a footballing great one has died.
It may be a bit too early for anyone to declare Quaresma’s career to be over, but what is left of it is a history of unfulfilled promises.
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