Red Bulls sign Brazilian dead ball wizard Juninho
The New York Red Bulls announced Monday that they have signed Brazilian star midfielder Juninho, and that the 37-year-old will be officially added to the team’s roster pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate.
Juninho, a former Brazilian international who was a member of the 2006 FIFA World Cup squad, comes to New York from Brazilian first-division side Vasco da Gama.
“Juninho is a world-class player who our global sporting director, Gérard Houllier, and I have known and admired for many years,” Red Bull New York sporting director Andy Roxburgh said in a statement. “Aside from being a top dead-ball specialist and a tremendous talent, Juninho is a fantastic professional both on and off the field. He is in great physical shape and we think he can make a positive impact for us in 2013.”
In his second and recent stint at Vasco da Gama, Juninho played 50 games since 2011 and recorded 14 goals. Prior to that, Juninho was with Qatari club Al-Gharafa, helping his team take home the league title and winning the Player of the Year honors.
Juninho had a storied career playing for French first-division club Olympique Lyonnais from 2001-09. With Lyon, he helped win seven-straight Ligue 1 titles from 2002-08 while recording 100 goals in 344 matches in all competitions. His goal mark is fourth all-time in Lyon history.
A veteran of the UEFA Champions League competition, Juninho, who played under Houllier from 2005-07, was named Ligue 1 Player of the Year in the 2005-06 season and was a three-time member of the Ligue 1 Team of the Year.
Juninho began his career with Brazilian side Sport in 1991 before heading to Vasco da Gama in 1995. He won the Brazilian Championship with the Rio de Janeiro-based side in 1997 and 2000 and the Copa Libertadores in 1998.
On the international stage, Juninho made his Brazilian national team debut in 1999 and earned 47 caps for his country, notching seven goals. He was a member of the 2006 FIFA World Cup squad before retiring from international soccer following the tournament.