FRIDAY FEATURE: Brandão: The End of a Troubled Career

Just as in every walk of life, in football you can come across the occasional hot-head. There are certainly a few players that make you shake your head in disappointment every time that they let you down. The fact that you are almost always anticipating their next mistake makes it hurts that bit more when they put a foot wrong because they’re more often than not capable of something truly special on their day. 

Brandão has been a pretty polarising character in Ligue 1 from the outset and not only because of his erratic behaviour. After joining Marseille from Shakhtar Donetsk back in 2009, the Brazilian-born forward was laughed at for not having the natural ability that his kin-folk are so famous for. Rather, he has always resembled a traditional centre-forward you would find in England in the 1980’s. Big, strong and powerful, he terrorises defences with his presence alone which on occasion has mattered more than his actual goal-scoring record.

Questions about his dubious character first emerged in 2011 when he was arrested on  suspicion of sexual assaulting a woman in a car. Brandão had offered to drive the woman home from a nightclub when the incident was alleged to have taken place, the striker admitted that they had sexual relations but they were consentual and “totally” denied the accusation.

The case was eventually resolved some 18 months later but by then the damage was done. He was shipped out to Brazil on loan during this troubling period but Deschamps had hoped for his return. When he did make a short stop back at L’OM, he helped the side reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League and scored the winner in the Coupe de la Ligue final against Lyon which emphasised the reasons why his manager stood by him throughout. It is consequently their relationship that convinced Brandão to announce his candidacy to represent France at the World Cup this summer in Brazil, only for his offer to be flatly ignored when the 23-man squad was announced in June. 

Despite this, he was released in 2012 to join Saint-Etienne where yet again, he would  succeed. He was brought in to partner Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and he played a big part in Les Verts finishing fourth in 2012-13 but it wasn’t long before disciplinary problems began to rear their ugly head again.

With Aubameyang leaving for Borussia Dortmund, the side didn’t quite reach the same heights and at that time Brandão became a little petulant, especially in games against Paris St Germain. He was red carded twice against the Parisians last season, one for a poor challenge on Thiago Silva and another for an unacceptable elbow on Yohan Cabaye, which saw him miss several games in a year where he had already picked up a few niggling injuries.

So it was not surprising in the summer that he was temporarily without a club again but it was also typical that he would be picked up by a side because his uncanny ability to help teams win games. He joined Claude Makelele’s Bastia side but it took just two games for something to go wrong for him wearing the Corsican shirt.

A pre-meditated headbutt, where he waited for Thiago Motta in the tunnel before scampering away after the attack, which left the PSG midfielder with a broken nose. It was a henious act, denounced by PSG players, their president and even Makelele, it was an act that no-one with any integrity could defend.

Thiago Motta had said several things during the game to Brandão, something he is a bit infamous for, but that shouldn’t excuse the Brazilian from retaliating. It’s also not surprising that the incident occurred against the club he’s had previous skirmishes with. Thiago Motta might have been targeted for the damage he’s done previously but that’s on Brandão’s head, his temper shouldn’t be getting the best of him.

It’s led to a ban that will last until at least mid-September, where it will most certainly be extended for many months and his contract with Bastia will likely be gone soon after as will his career in French football. It is a shame when you look at how he can help a side win games and teams have given him so many chances because of that, but the headbutt was a fatal step over the edge. His career is almost certainly over in French football, but, abroad, it might be an entirely different situation.

There are characters in football that love to be controversial. Players like Mario Balotelli and Luis Suarez consistently polarise people’s opinions but obtain second and third chances because they often harbour the genius necessary to form a successful football team. Brandão might be a galaxy apart for the aforementioned duo, but his success in Ligue 1 cannot be denied. Sadly he will be remembered for a single headbutt more than for anything else that he ever gave to French football.



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