Full Name: Simão Pedro Fonseca Sabrosa
Left Atlético in: 2011
Currently playing for: Besiktas
Squad Number: 20
DoB: 31 October 1979
Buyout Clause: €50m
Previous Clubs: Sporting Lisbon (1996-1999), Barcelona (1999-2001), Benfica (2001-2007)
From the moment he first set foot on a professional football pitch, Simão was labelled as the new Luis Figo. First for Sporting Lisbon, the club where both players grew up, and then later for Barcelona. However it was at Benfica that the winger finally shook the expectations and became a great Portugese player in his own right, earning him a €20m transfer to Atlético.
Simão made a great first impression, scoring on his debut for Sporting as a seventeen-year old. The Portuguese club has produced some excellent wingers from its youth system, like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma, Nani and long before them, Luis Figo.
It’s in Luis Figo’s footsteps that Simão followed, when Barcelona bought him for €15m in 1999, after having played 53 games for Sporting.
Simão struggled to break into the first team in Catalunya and moved back to Portugal two seasons later, when Benfica paid €12m for the versatile winger.
Back in Lisbon Simão quickly became a fan favorite, finishing top-scorer in each of the six seasons he played for the club. It wasn’t long before he was handed the captaincy. He played 172 games and scored 76 goals for Benfica, before he eventually moved to Madrid in the summer of 2007.
When Simão arrived in the Spanish capital, Atlético had just signed Luis García and José Antonio Reyes, while Maxi Rodríguez was captain. Despite the heavy competition, Simão was an undisputed starter from the very first first game and has been in his three seasons with Atlético.
In his first two years Atlético twice finished fourth in la Liga, with Simão scoring seven goals in both. While Atleti underperformed in 2009/10, it became one of the most memorable years in the club’s history. In May 2010 the Europa League was won, while the team also reached the final of the Copa del Rey.
To emphasize Simão’s influence in Atlético’s history, the winger scored the 4000th goal in Atlético’s history against APOEL in the Champions League in 2009. He was handed the honour of being named Atleti’s vice-captain.
During the 2010/11 season it became clear that Atlético were unwilling to extend the winger’s contract, unless the big earner would take a salary cut. With only six months remaining on his contract Atleti tried to gain back some of the investment they had made in 2007 and sold Simão to Besiktas for a fee under €1m.
Internationally, Simão debuted for the Portuguese national team as a nineteen-year old and scored on his debut against Israel. He missed the 2002 World Cup due to injury, but did play the World Cups in 2006 and 2010, and the European Tournaments in 2004 and 2008. Simão has played 85 caps, in which he scored 22 goals.