All systems go for Deco

Deco is raring to go as FC Barcelona's UEFA Champions League campaign looms.

By Diogo Teixeira

After FC Porto won the 2002/03 UEFA Cup with a 3-2 win against Celtic FC, Brazilian playmaker Deco was ready to leave the club. Despite offers from many leading European clubs, the Portuguese champions persuaded the Brazilian-born player to stay put. It proved to be a fantastic decision.

Defining victory
In his sixth season with the club in 2003/04, a 3-0 win against AS Monaco FC saw Deco inspire Porto to UEFA Champions League glory. It was a victory that finally put the seal on the brilliant 27-year-old's career at the Estádio do Dragão before he moved to FC Barcelona this summer.

Barcelona ambitions
"What I want is to help Barcelona to build a strong team," he told "That's the only way we can think if we want to win something this season. Barcelona signed several excellent players this summer but the most important thing is to form a solid team. No one player can change the way a team plays or have such an influence that they can make a club win titles. There were only two or three players in history who could do that."

Important assist
Two wins in their opening two Primera División games have seen Barcelona make a bright start to their season, and there was proof that the new signings were bedding in well as Deco set up fellow newcomer Henrik Larsson for the second goal in a 2-0 win against Sevilla FC at the weekend.

'Long-held dream'
That assist has only helped to confirm to Deco that his decision to move to Camp Nou was another good one. "We have a wonderful set of footballers and I believe we can be a strong team," he said. "I won a lot at Porto, but playing for Barça has been a long-held dream and I want more trophies here."

European challenge
However, if Deco is hoping to win a second Champions League title in as many years in his first season under Frank Rijkaard, he is in for some hard work. With Barcelona drawn against AC Milan, FC Shakhtar Donetsk and their first-night opponents Celtic FC, reaching the knockout stages will be a challenge.

A team of leaders
"A club like Barcelona has to aim to reach the next stage," said Deco. If they are to do so, Deco will need to be on his game. "I don't think of myself as a leader," he added. "All I want to do is play. All of us have to be leaders and show a strong personality."

Brazilian contingent
That sense of collective effort is one of the keys to Barcelona's success. Another is the rapport between the team's Brazilian contingent, which includes defenders Sylvinho, Juliano Belletti and Edmílson and midfield players Thiago Motta and Ronaldinho as well as Deco.

Common culture
That large Brazilian bloc has been seen as a cause for concern by some supporters, but Deco accentuated the positives. "It's true that there are a lot of Brazilian players here and it's only normal that there is strong link between us," he said.

Winning mentality
He added: "The most important thing is the mentality of the players, regardless of their nationality." And if he has proved nothing else in the last two seasons, Deco has left no one in any doubt that he has the mind to be a winner wherever he goes.