Of all the accolades applied to Sporting’s star striker, it is perhaps the fans at the Jose Alvalade who have found the definitive version: 'Liedson decides.' The banners that hail the goalscoring feats of their mercurial centre-forward sum it up perfectly, since over the seven years that he has spent in Portuguese football, Liedson has shown himself to be a player with a happy knack of finding the net just when his team needs him, even in the face of apparently lost causes.
The Brazilian-born goal machine is a complete modern striker and his club’s leading goalscorer in recent years. But, as a look at his career reveals, Liedson has had to work hard to turn his own footballing dream into FIFA World Cup™ reality.
A little over ten years ago, the 22 year-old was stacking shelves in a supermarket in his native Brazil whilst playing amateur football for Valenca, in the northeastern state of Bahia. He could scarcely have thought that one day he would grace the arenas of European football, let alone the FIFA World Cup finals, but the boy from Brazil never lost faith, worked hard at his game and finally got his big break.
He signed his first professional deal with Pocoes and moved swiftly through the ranks of the Brazilian game. A move to Curitiba was quickly followed by a spell with Rio de Janeiro giants Flamengo, and a stint with Sao Paulo outfit Corinthians where his goalscoring exploits caught the attention of several European clubs.
He was courted by a number of scouts, but at the start of 2003/04, Liedson made the switch to Sporting Lisbon. During his time at Corinthians, the striker had been known as ‘Liedshow.’ In Lisbon the Sporting fans christened him ‘o Levezinho’ in honour of his fragile build, his speed and his movement. Indeed, these elements have become the defining characteristics of his game. He is always on the move, never gives defenders any breathing space at all, and is a past master at chasing down lost causes and recovering possession for his side.
But nothing wins over fans like goals and in his first season at the Jose Alvalade, the talented frontman struck 15 times. The following campaign, he bagged an impressive 25 goals, finishing as the top scorer in the Portuguese top flight. Over recent seasons he has maintained his astonishing scoring rate, and, since that first season, he has never scored fewer than 20 goals in each of his six years with the Lisbon club.
After six years in Portugal, Liedson decided to follow his international dreams with his adopted country, and applied for citizenship. He became eligible for the equipa das Quinas and was immediately called up by coach Carlos Queiroz. In September 2009, just as Queiroz’s men were struggling for form and consistency in their qualifying campaign, the naturalized Brazilian made his debut in the famous red shirt against group leaders Denmark. Typically, he did what he does best, scoring a late equaliser for the Portuguese after coming on as a second-half substitute. In South Africa 2010 his reputation will go before him and, just like the faithful at the Alvalade, fans all over Portugal will be hoping once again that 'Liedson decides.'