27 September, 2007

Obscure South American del la Semana Tres

Name – Vágner Silva de Souza a.k.a Vágner Love

Affiliation - CSKA Moscow, aka Sneeze Moscow

Reason for coolness – He has blue braids. Looks like he's got a deal going with Death Row. Gangsta.

Reason for Obscurity – As with last week’s Fenerbahce’s duo, the Russian national league is somewhat off most people’s radars, although Moscow’s exposure in the Champions League over the last couple of years has raised his profile throughout Europe.

Mr. de Souza garnered quite a reputation for himself within the Brazilian league before moving to Russia, but more for being something of a Don Juan than a great footballer, and unsurprisingly owes his nickname to his womanising ways. In fact, five years ago, he was thrown out of Palmeiras’ youth team squad after being caught with a girl in his room on the eve of an important game. That’s just how he rolls though, ladies love him, and the kiss-and-tell tales of his antics had the press gleefully dubbing the youngster “the Marksman of Love,” while the late night hood-rat shenanigans continued with increasingly regularity. He even has the class to still acknowledge this reputation by celebrating ever goal he scores by blowing kisses to women in the crowd.

However, while a lesser man might’ve succombed to the sirens’ calls, Vagner Love’s pimp game never interfered with his playing progress and still as a teenager, he was a fixture in Palmeiras’ first team, notching up 19 goals in the 2003 season as the club were promoted into the Brazilian top flight. Having started the following season is as good a form, Vagner got the call-up into the Brazilian Under-20 side, and it wasn’t long before a move was touted. Russia is never an easy place to go to, but he has settled well, adapting to the tighter style of play and posing a constant threat to defences. He now averages almost a goal every other game for CSKA, and his tally includes the third goal that sealed CSKA's 3-1 victory in the 2005 UEFA Cup Final over Sporting Lisbon

Perhaps harder to adjust to though, coming as he does from Sao Paulo, is living in the desolate, icy kremlin that is Moscow. This blow has been softened however by having his entire family brought over to be around him, including his mother Jaira, father Neto, sister Irma, brother-in-law Marcelo, and of course the 35 illegitimate children he has fathered over the years. Vagner says: “I know only a few words of Russian. I communicate with most of my team-mates with gestures, but it's working out.” Presumably he’s found a much easier way to communicate with the Russian ladies though.

Word on the street is that AC Milan are sizing him up for a January transfer window swoop, having been impressed with his performances during Brazil’s victorious Copa America run, so don’t expect Mr. Love to remain obscure for much longer…

While you ponder your lesson of love, enjoy this tribute video, which draws parallels between Russian football and West Coast hippity-hop: