The article is about the day Anderson (almost) single handedly lifted his team to the first division while he was starting out his career in Brazil. The date was November 26 2005.
Before Anderson got signed by Porto in 2005, he rose through the ranks at Grêmio which is a football club located in the southern tip of Brazil.
Although he only appeared in 19 fixtures while they were placed in the second division, one of his 6 goals turned him into one of their “Imortals”.
- You have a proud club which is supported by roughly half of Rio Grande do Sul’s 10,000,000 inhabitants.
- The previous year (2004) the club suffered the indignity of being relegated to the second division for the second time in its’ history.
- It’s the final day of the season and they need to win this play-off to win the title and gain their return to the first division.
- Grêmio travel 3,000 kms north east to face Nautico from Recife in front of over 60,000 screaming fanatics.
Due to a run of rich form, Anderson once again starts on the pitch in the midfield. After a relatively incident-free first half is complete, the scores are locked at 0-0. You could say, the calm before the storm.
Things started to heat up in the 78min when a defender from Grêmio is sent off for his second yellow card. And in the next minute, a striker from Nautico was dribbling around the edge of the area and was awarded a contentious penalty. In all of the confusion, 3 players from Grêmio get in the referee’s face too much and get straight red cards. For whatever reason, there are now non-players (including journalists) on the pitch and the police decide to step in and take ALL remaining players off the ground to deal with the confusion.
The game is stopped for 25 minutes.
During all of this, the other semi-final between Santo Cruz and Portuguesa continues on with the former winning 2-1 thus seemingly guaranteeing their title.
The game finally recommences with Grêmio down to 7 players AND facing a penalty. With the TV coverage of the game shows footage of distraught supporters in Porto Alegre with hands on their heads, the striker from Nautico struck the ball which was unbelievably defended by the keeper.
The coverage switches back to Porto Alegre to see the streets filled with screaming supporters.
The keeper quickly grabs the replacement ball, whips a pass up the field which reaches Anderson who dribbles the ball skilfully up the left wing into the Nautico half. He’s clattered by a clumsy challenge which results in the expulsion of the offending Nautico defender. As soon as humanely possible, the free kick is taken by Grêmio and the unmarked Anderson is found just outside the penalty box. He once again dribbles the ball passing two approaching defenders and enters into the box.
It’s now him and the keeper.
Does he go around him? Does he try and poke the ball around the left of the goalkeeper?
He decides the latter, the ball enters the goal and the rest is history.
In the last moments of the game, Grêmio won the game, the title, and a return to the premier division! And Anderson also became elevated to “Imortal” status.
From that point, Anderson’s career has sky-rocketed with titles at Porto before being bought by one of the world’s most famous football clubs; Manchester United.
Click here to watch the highlights of the game.