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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 09:37 GMT
Tim Vickery column
By Tim Vickery
South American football reporter

Rafael Scheidt
Scheidt proved to be a misfit at Celtic

There are many ways of making yourself look foolish.

One of the surest is to predict what is going to happen on the football field.

The glorious unpredictability of the game is one of its most appealing aspects.

And it can make pundits look as ridiculous as the general who, when advised to take cover, responded with the famous last words "they couldn't hit an elephant at this dist....".

My personal equivalent of "they couldn't hit an elephant..." goes by the name of 'Rafael Scheidt'.

I still wake up sweating in the middle of the night when the ghastly truth comes back to me.

Back in 1999 I really thought the Brazilian centre-back would be an excellent buy for Celtic.

How could I have been so wrong?

Since returning from Scotland, Scheidt has played for Corinthians and Atletico Mineiro, and he currently captains Botafogo.

I've watched him several times, and always with a wince.

In hindsight it's all so clear.

There's no way that could have succeeded in Scotland. He's way too slow.

In Brazilian football he can hide his defect to a certain extent. Defences line up much deeper, so if the ball is played behind the centre-back there's a good chance the keeper can deal with it.

My big error was to have been too carried away with the good side of his game.

Scheidt can pass well out of defence, long and short off either foot.

Kleberson failed to make an impact at Manchester United

I imagined him doing it in Europe, and forgot that European football would give him less time on the ball and take him into positions on the field where he would be made to look uncomfortable.

It was a bad mistake.

But I don't reproach myself for Kleberson.

Manchester United got next to nothing out of the Brazilian midfielder, but I'm sticking to my guns.

The Kleberson of 2001 and 2002 had everything to be an Old Trafford success - two good feet, acceleration and the capacity to work box to box.

Brazil's current management team of Carlos Alberto Parreira and Mario Zagallo thought the world of him.

They were not in charge for the 2002 World Cup, but took the view that Brazil began to win the tournament from the moment that Kleberson was introduced to the team.

They gave him every chance to stay in the frame. They took him to the 2004 Copa America, and then selected him for the World Cup qualifier away to Ecuador.

Since then they seem to have given up.

The problem is that the Kleberson of 2001 and 2002 has not been seen since - anywhere.

It's not just that he didn't adapt to England. It's bigger than that.

It seems truer to say that he has been unable to adapt to success. He won the World Cup just after his 23rd birthday.

At United he was earning the kind of money that must have been beyond anything he dreamed about when he was a kid.

In his case, perhaps so much success so suddenly had the effect of dampening the flame of desire.

It all goes to show the importance of the human element in football.

The game's competitive environment will elicit wildly different responses. Some will grow when faced with a challenge, and some will shrink.

It's all part of the glorious unpredictability of football, and it lays plenty of banana skins for the pundits.

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12 Jul 05 |  World Football


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