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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Arts and Entertainment
Ella Henderson's first studio album has gone straight to the top of the charts
music
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

Life and Style
fashion
News
Paul Nuttall, left, is seen as one of Ukip's key weapons in selling the party to the North of England
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand labelled 'left-wing commie scum' by Fox News
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Sport
Steven Caulker of QPR scores an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool
football
Arts and Entertainment
artKaren Wright tours the fair and wishes she had £11m to spare
News
i100
Life and Style
Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh been invited to take part in Women Fashion Power, a new exhibition that celebrates the way women's fashion has changed in relation to their growing power and equality over the past 150 years
fashionKirsty and Camila swap secrets about how to dress for success
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
booksNew book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Year 5/6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Permanent Year 6 TeacherThe job:This...

KS1 & KS2 Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: KS1+KS2 Teachers required ASAP for l...

Year 2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 2 Teacher The position is to wo...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past