Veteran Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf has joined mid-table Brazilian Serie A side Botafogo in a deal that could make him the country’s best-paid foreigner.
Seedorf said an emotional goodbye to AC Milan – where he had spent half of his professional career – in May, after revealing that the league clash with Novara would be his last game for the Rossoneri. He officially departed the San Siro on 21 June and said: “I am leaving after 10 wonderful years…I leave a family”, while club CEO Adriano Galliani gushed “When Milan played well…each and every time it occured, Seedorf played an amazing match. He is a world class player.”
The Suriname-born schemer leaves Serie A following a trophy-laden spell in Italy which saw him lift two Champions League cups, two league titles and the FIFA Club World Cup with Milan, as well as reaching the final of the Coppa Italia with Inter in 2000. Having also enjoyed top-flight football in Holland, with Ajax, and won La Liga with Real Madrid, Seedorf joins Botafogo with a wealth of experience in the upper echelons of club football.
The 36-year-old has signed a two year deal with The Lone Star, and is expected to see out the remainder of his career at the 46,000-capacity Estadio Olimpico. A Botafogo club statement claimed the deal is “the biggest contract for a foreigner made by a Brazilian football club”.
Although Seedorf will clearly be the jewel in the crown of Botafogo’s modest squad – midfielder Renato (ex-Sevilla, with 28 caps for Brazil) and Uruguayan forward Sebastian Abreu (formerly of Deportivo and River Plate) are the club’s next-biggest stars – the Dutchman is not the first world-class player to have donned the side’s black-and-white strip. Botafogo alumni include legendary Brazilian wingers Garrincha and Jairzinho, three-time World Cup-winning coach Mario Zagallo (who had five separate spells in the Botafogo hotseat) and midfielder Didi, who has two World Cups to his name.
Fully aware of Seedorf’s status in the game, Botafogo have already changed their website to have the Dutchman modelling a club shirt as the only image on the home page, with the caption “SEEDORF GLORIOSO”, while thousands of messages from fans with the slogan “Seedorf no Fogao” (“Seedorf the fire”) flooded social networking site Twitter.
The player’s fame is expected to lead to high shirt sales and will boost the club’s marketing prospects – just as the return of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho to Brazil in recent years saw huge advertising contracts and image rights. Expect plenty of stylish shots such as the one on the right.
The club will undoubtedly look to use the 87-cap Holland international to help advertise Botafogo to European audiences, enhancing the side’s reputation and attracting more supporters from abroad. Seedorf, who speaks Portuguese and is married to a Brazilian woman, also has the ability to communicate in his team-mates’ native tongue, an important factor that may save the dressing room from the sometimes morale-lowering impact of a marquee signing for the rest of the squad.
Clarence will join fellow 21st-century footballing icons Ronaldinho, Deco, Luis Fabiano and Neymar in the Brazilian top-flight, demonstrating a trend of up-and-coming superstars and veteran legends having greater faith in a league that has grown in appeal and stature in recent years.