Emerson primed for ejector seat

Simon Turnbull meets Middlesbrough's 'other' Brazilian, whose efforts have fallen some way short of his reputation

It was another brilliant performance by Middlesbrough's Brazilian genius. Having mastered the English language almost as well as he has the English game, Juninho's form was the highlight of the FA Cup final media day at the Riverside Stadium.

Informed of Ruud Gullit's aversion to man-marking, he replied: "Oh, I feel very happy now." Asked which FA Cup final memories he held from his childhood, he returned the question: "Being honest?"

It was such a spellbinding show nobody in the audience turned round when Boro's boyish Brazilian was asked for whom he had voted in the PFA awards, and a voice at the back of the room shouted, "For me".

Considering Emerson conducted his interview in Portuguese, few could have suspect- ed the quip had come from the man whose own samba beat has long since slowed to a mournful drum-roll down at the Riverside.

As a matter of fact, Juninho cast his vote for Gianfranco Zola, the blue- shirted genie against whose magical powers his own will be inevitably compared on Saturday.

Emerson has topped one poll at the end of his first, and surely last, season in English football. The readers of Fly Me To The Moon, Middlesbrough's out of this world fanzine, voted him the biggest disappointment of the season.

Questioned about his maligned compatriot, Juninho mustered a loyal defence. "Emerson has been playing very well," he maintained. "I don't know why some criticise him. He did very well this season. He had great games. He helps Middlesbrough a lot."

It was a shame Paul Daniels, Teesside's less gifted conjuror, was absent. "Not a lot," just about sums up Emerson's contribution to Middlesbrough's cause in the three seasons he has spent in England: autumn, winter and spring.

Since he went Awol in November, citing first a sick aunt and then a sick wife, the midfielder's influence has been minimal. The cracking semi-final goal he scored against Chesterfield stands out as much for its rarity value as for its own merit.

The early season queue of admirers lining up to back Bobby Robson's assessment of the pounds 4m man he sold from Porto as "the new Bryan Robson" disappeared as the clocks went back and Emerson went back to Brazil.

Instead, he is preparing to play Boro villain to Juninho's hero on the Wembley stage after the disappearing trick he performed down the Elland Road tunnel while his club's Premiership fate still hung in the balance last Sunday.

"I was upset with myself, only myself," Emerson claimed, through his interpreter, yesterday. "I wanted to be on the pitch, helping my colleagues."

The uncapped Brazilian was conspicuous by his absence from morning training on the Riverside pitch, nursing an injured knee which is not expected to keep him out of tomorrow's probable swan-song for the high profile members of Boro's foreign legion. Emerson's feet were under a table in the Camsell Suite but he did not look like a man settled into life at the Riverside.

"It was the right decision to come here and I've never regretted it," he said, before perhaps betraying his intentions. "The culture in this country is very different but it was a very good experience.

"Now I'm only concentrating on the FA Cup final. It's the biggest and most important final in club football and I hope I'll be 100 per cent fit for it. I'll think about next season later. Whether we win the Cup or not I'll need time to think about it and it's too early to say now."

It remains to be seen if any of the Continent's major clubs will be interested in one of the Premiership's major underachievers. Steve Gibson, Middlesbrough's chairman, may regret the short shrift he gave to Bobby Robson's pounds 5m bid from Barcelona when Emerson was threatening not to return from Brazil.

Not that the man himself was about to accept responsibility for his substandard displays. "I think all the criticism has been because of jealousy," he said. "The press did not think Middlesbrough could bring top class players to the North-east."

It is a shame for Middlesbrough and for Emerson that, in their fans' view, only one of the top-class players they are taking to London on Saturday is Brazilian.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own