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Focus on: Bebe
Published : 22 Sep 2010 15:50:49
Ahead of tonight's Carling Cup third round match between Manchester United and Scunthorpe, Daniel Jolly profiles one of the young United prodigies expected to feature, Bebe.
When he was signed for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around £7.4m, there was no shortage of eyebrows raised by the football world.
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Tiago Manuel Dias Ferreira - to give him his full name- can play as either a target man, support striker or on either flank and is another import from Portugal - a country that has been so fruitful for the Red Devils' talent in recent years.
The story of the 20 year old, whose nickname means baby in Portuguese, differs greatly from those of fellow countrymen Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have graced the Old Trafford turf before him.
Raised in the Casa do Gaiato youth shelter after being abandoned by his parents as a child, he was invited to play for a team organised by the CAIS (who are responsible for the country’s homeless World Cup team) in the 2009 European Street Football Festival in Bosnia.
During the tournament he netted 40 goals in six matches but it wasn’t enough for the team to reach the second group stage.
After impressing for amateur side Loures, third division club Estrela Amadora handed the Cacem born attacker his first chance in the professional game.
A dispute over unpaid wages from Estrela led to him eventually moving to top division side Vitoria de Guimaraes for a fee reported to be £50,000.
After signing a five year contract in July, it emerged that shortly before he completed the switch, his former agent Goncalo Reis offered him to Dutch powerhouse PSV for free. They turned down Reis’ proposal as they didn't know who the player was.
His official debut for Vitoria never materialised, but his pre-season goal-haul of five in six matches interest rose from clubs both at home and abroad, including European giants Real Madrid.
United soon threw their hat into the ring after the player was recommended by Sir Alex Ferguson's former assistant Carlos Queiroz.
Just five weeks after signing the long term deal at Guimaraes he completed the surprise switch to Manchester on 16 August, joining Mexican striker Javier Hernández and English centre-back Chris Smalling as the Scot's summer recruits.
Soon after, he was called up to the under-21 squad for the first time by boss Oceano, ironically to face England in a crucial 2011 European Championship qualifier, after previously representing the under-19s side twice.
All eyes will be on Bebe as he is expected to feature for the first time and United fans will be hoping he lives up to his illustrious billing.
If he proves to be anywhere near as good as his Portuguese predecessors, it will be another transfer masterstroke by Ferguson.