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Ze Roberto, Brazil's Jack of all

June 28, 2006 03:01 IST

In a Brazilian side made up of big names, Ze Roberto is the most unassuming. But put the ball in front of him and immediately he is in the thick of action. In addition to finding the smallest of gaps for his forwards, he is also adept at taking on the striker's role and assisting in defence.

Four years ago, despite being a member of Brazil's team at the 1998 World Cup, as also the Copa America-winning teams in 1997 and 1999, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari felt he was not good enough to include him in the side for the finals in Japan-South Korea and left him out. But current coach Carlos Parreira, who has followed his career closely, believed in his abilities and picked him for the trip to Germany. Certainly, the 31-year-old midfielder has not disappointed.

A regular starter now for the world champions, Jose Roberto da Silva Junior showed that he can play at any position, be it left-back, left midfield or on the left wing, with a fine showing in the second round match against Ghana, which Brazil won 3-0 to book a place in the last eight stage. The manner in which he slotted in the third goal, after Ronaldo and Adraino had made it 2-0, left no doubt of his immense talents.

Capitalising on a long though from the defence, he calmly beat the Ghanian offside trap and tapped the ball over advancing goalkeeper Richard Kingston's head and into an unguarded net.

Roberto, who till this season played for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, is capable of much more. In the coming days Carlos Parreira will be counting on his all-round showing if Brazil are to win a record sixth title.