By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – There are several veterans currently lighting up the 2013 Campeonato Brasileiro. Diego Forlán at Internacional, Alex at Coritiba or Grêmio’s Zé Roberto are just a few, but none are more successful in playing club football (soccer) than 38-year-old former Holland international Clarence Seedorf, part of the Botafogo midfield for more than a year now.
Seedorf has done it all and has already made an impact at his new home. Back in May this year, he helped Botafogo to win the Campeonato Carioca, the Rio de Janeiro state championship.
Now, with the club having made a promising start to this year’s national campaign, as well as qualifying for the last sixteen in the Copa do Brasil, there is genuine belief Botafogo can lift their first national trophy in eighteen years.
Having come through the famed Ajax academy alongside the likes of Edwin van der Sar and Patrick Kluivert, Seedorf went on to represent European giants Real Madrid, Internazionale and AC Milan. He remains the only player in history to win the UEFA Champions League, the most distinguished club honor in the game, with three different clubs; Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan, with whom he won the competition twice.
During an illustrious career in Europe that spanned almost two decades the midfielder picked up league titles in every country he played as well as a plethora of other awards. He played at renowned Italian club AC Milan for twelve years before calling a stop to his career in Italy and moving to Rio.
On the international stage Seedorf was a key component of the Dutch national side. The playmaker was part of national squads that took part in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 European Championships and the 1998 World Cup.
Considered one of the most talented footballing nations of the past twenty years Seedorf failed to experience the same kind of success on the international stage as he has enjoyed at club level. He retired from international football five years ago having made close to a hundred appearances for the Netherlands to concentrate on prolonging his career at club level.
Seedorf arrived in Rio to much fanfare in July 2012 and has already made a positive impact on the club. He joins Uruguayan international Nicolas Lodeiro in midfield and the pair are forming an excellent partnership at the heart of Botafogo’s creativity.
Radio broadcaster and football blogger (Botafogo fan for 38 years) Eder Ramos de Oliveira believes the future is bright with Seedorf at the club. “I think it’s the best signing Botafogo have made since I’ve been watching football,” he said. “He is talented, an excellent professional, an example to younger players and he is fundamental in generating new fans, not only for Botafogo but for all clubs in Brazil.”
Amongst Rio’s big four clubs the Alvinegro have been the least successful in recent times. While Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco have all won national titles in the last four years you have to go back to 1995 for Botafogo’s last triumph, the 1995 Campeonato Brasileiro.
Now, coach Oswaldo de Oliveira is building a side which is well balanced between experience and youth and looks capable of challenging for top honors, with Seedorf at its core.