“Alex, he’s better than Rooney.”
Martin Ferguson’s words, revealed by his brother and legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex in his biography, were probably more detrimental to Anderson than the praise they were meant to be.
Appearing in 2013 following the book’s publication, the quote, which in itself led to the Old Trafford club spending a hefty fee on the attacking midfielder, came at a time when the player’s career was at a low point.
Unable to convince Ferguson’s successor, David Moyes, he deserved to start regularly, Anderson was seeing his career fall to pieces in front of his very eyes, and a subsequent loan to Fiorentina hardly helped, featuring just seven times in the second half of the 2013-14 season.
Used just twice by Louis Van Goal in the following campaign, the former Porto starlet was allowed to leave on a free transfer to return to his home country, where Internacional wanted to help him turn his career around.
Two years and 52 appearances later, he went to Coritiba on loan before returning to this side of the Pacific, where Turkish second-tier side Adana Demirspor gave him a final chance after being released by Internacional.
However, a year and 15 appearances later, and Anderson decided it was time to hang up his boots at the age of 31, after a ‘series of injuries’ and continuous fitness struggles limited him to just 45 minutes of football this season.
It’s not the exit he will have wanted, but for a kid from Porto Alegre, he lived a career many would be envious of, walking away with four Premier League titles, a Champions League medal, as well as a couple of League Cups and a handful of trophies from Portugal.
So what next for Anderson?
Adana Demirspor’s president revealed in his announcement about the player’s retirement on Radyospor last week the Brazilian would be remaining at the Turkish club for the foreseeable future, but in a behind the scenes role.
Agreeing to reduce his wages by €400k (from €600k/year to €200k), Anderson ‘will continue to work at the club’ where Murat Sancak believes he will be ‘especially effective in foreign relations’.
It’s a role that is likely to suit him, as few will be able to argue the Brazilian’s love of football.
In fact, Michael Owen, when speaking to SportsJOE, put it perfectly: “Without being too general, he’d have that Brazilian attitude. He was a pretty relaxed guy. Maybe too relaxed at times.
“He loved being out there with a ball at his feet but he did not bother about weights, or anything really. Him getting back from injuries was often a slow process.
“He was a really good player but if he had that driven mentality, he could have been great.”
Therein lay the issue for the Brazilian, who solely wanted to play football, have fun, pulling silly faces to distract the opposition goalkeeper, just like he did when he was a kid, without all the other extra professional stuff on top.
A cruciate ligament rupture in 2010 followed by another serious knee injury a year and a half later practically put an end to his career.
What followed was rather painful to watch, especially when looking back at those grainy videos from his Porto days, when he would breeze through defences with the ball at his feet, weaving in and out of tackles with nutmegs before finding the assist.
In fact, it was that raw ability that led him to win the European Golden Boy award in 2008 after his first season at Manchester United; an achievement that can be looked back on with a despairing ‘oh, what could have been…’
Indeed, it would have been interesting to see Sir Alex Ferguson let Anderson loose on Premier League defences, just like he was allowed to at Porto, instead of the more battling role he was asked to perform at Manchester United, even if he did manage to keep Steven Gerrard in his back pocket in that 2007 game.
The same applies for his performance against Cesc Fabregas that same year, which led the Old Trafford faithful to come up with their catchy song for the Brazilian.
Oh, and let’s not forget that rather ferocious penalty in the Champions League final or his title winning spot kick in March 2009 in the Carling Cup.
All these seem like a lifetime ago, yet they are engraved in Manchester United folklore, and his name will forever be associated with a number of titles that cannot be taken away from him.
Now, he gets to work in the sport he loves, without all the ‘restrictions’ that come with it, using his story to help Adana Demirspor off the pitch.