Hear the word ‘Brazilian’ and, in a football sense at least, images of attacking flair, mazy dribbling and sublime technique are conjured. While Thiago Silva, the Paris St-Germain defender may be one of the top centre backs in the world, if a Brazilian footballer is not an attacker then they never really receive the plaudits they should. Players like Dunga, Mauro Silva, Gilberto Silva, and now Tottenham’s Sandro.
Signed from Internacional in Brazil for around £9million, Sandro’s integration into English football was measured. The Brazil U-20 Captain learned English as soon as transfer negotiations commenced, and the protracted nature of these discussions (they started October 2009 and Sandro moved in the middle of August the next year) meant he had a good grasp of the language. Sandro also visited a psychologist in preparation for the change of country and culture.
Sandro Raniere Guimares Cordeiro, to quote his full name, was in and out of the team in his first season but a stand out performance alongside Wilson Palacios as Spurs won 1-0 against AC Milan in the San Siro alerted those outside the club and its fans who had already noticed the fully committed displays by the Brazilian warrior.
The signing of Scott Parker last season seemed to have dealt a blow to Sandro’s chances and a troublesome calf injury restricted the South American Youth Championship and Copa Libertadores (the South American Champions League) winner to just 27 appearances in all competition.
However, Parker’s absence after an Achilles operation has handed Sandro a starting role and after his performances in the first half of the season it would appear the Brazilian has usurped his English colleague in the pecking order.
A ferocious but fair tackler, with immense strength and never ending stamina, Sandro harasses and harangues opponents, winning the ball back high up the pitch and adding bite and a physical presence alongside fleet footed and nimble Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale and Mousa Dembele. He is fast becoming a fan favourite with the White Hart Lane faithful, adding lung busting bursts forward and the odd ‘worldy’ from long range.
While tackles and interceptions rarely make the highlights package, winning the ball back and halting opposition moves is vital, especially as Spurs have great pace on the counter attack. Given that Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all lack a true defensive midfielder who can shield the defence and win duels both in the air and on the ground, it is baffling as to why Sandro is not getting the praise he deserves, although Spurs fans will not complain if it means their Brazilian stays at the club for years to come.