As Cristiano Ronaldo readies himself for another potentially career defining moment on the global football stage, spare a thought for the man who was meant to join him in the upper echelons of football’s tapestry. Emerging from the same prestigious Sporting Lisbon academy, Ricardo Quaresma was once seen as Luis Figo’s heir apparent. Instead he finds himself on what is likely to be one of the final legs of his footballing journey in the middle east with Al Ahli.
It’s a far cry from his beginnings in Portugal’s capital. Promoted from Sporting’s B-team as a 17 year-old, much was expected of him after a stellar first season in which he lead the club to a league and cup double under the guidance of manager Laszlo Boloni. Arriving right behind him was Ronaldo. As Carlos Quieroz once admitted, choosing which dazzling winger to sign was a genuine dilemma, with one belief unanimous; both would shine.
For a period, Quaresma did. His four years in Porto brought two Portuguese player of the year awards, and a string of highlights that vindicated the opinions formed during his days at Sporting. An expert in the ‘Trivela’ technique, he often reveled in the big stage the Champions League provided him. Yet just as there was a peak, there were also notable troughs.