How brilliant is Beşiktaş and Portugal's Ricardo Quaresma?

Cristiano Ronaldo's former Sporting team-mate is insanely skilful and enjoying one of the best seasons of a frustrating career with Beşiktaş. UEFA.com gives the one-time boy wonder his due.

Insanely skilful and tempestuous too, Ricardo Quaresma is sparkling at Beşiktaş in the UEFA Europa League. UEFA.com sings the 33-year-old's praises.

What they say
"He has the ability to win a game with two or three touches, because he has fantastic talent. He doesn't always play well, but he has can still surprise everyone and change a match."
László Bölöni, former Sporting coach

"Quaresma is an inspiration. The way he uses the outside of his foot is amazing, it is his weapon; he can pass, dribble and shoot with it which is an amazing skill."
Paul Pogba, Manchester United and France midfielder

Quaresma undergoing his Barcelona medical
Quaresma undergoing his Barcelona medical©AFP

"I don't want him to lose his personality and individuality, otherwise he'll turn into an average player rather than playing like the genius he is."
Jesualdo Ferreira, former Porto coach

"I never hid my admiration for his talent, for his ability to spring a surprise at any moment, and I told him what I thought about him. That honesty worked, because I never lied to him."
Fernando Santos, Portugal coach

"He is a very hard-working player who loves his job. Sometimes he finds it difficult to control his emotions, but we are working on a fix for this."
Şenol Güneş, Beşiktaş coach

Current tally
International: 64 appearances, 8 goals
UEFA club competition: 100 appearances, 22 goals
Domestic competition: 411 appearances, 68 goals

Quaresma making his name with Sporting
Quaresma making his name with Sporting©AFP

Claims to fame
Sporting CP
• Starred under László Bölöni as Sporting won the 2001/02 double in Portugal, and then lined up with Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2002/03 campaign; the pair both moved on at the end of that season.

• A substitute cameo in a 3-2 UEFA Cup home win over Standard Liège in September 2001 convinced coach Bölöni of Quaresma's wild brilliance: "After that match I compared him to a a wild horse – difficult to tame." He was nicknamed 'Mustang' thereafter.

Barcelona
• Quaresma carried a copy of the latest Harry Potter book to his presentation following his summer 2003 switch to Camp Nou, underlining his reputation as a boy wizard; however, he scored just once in 22 Liga games in his sole Barcelona season, spending lots of time on the bench.

• Did not get on with coach Frank Rijkaard, but later said: "I didn't have patience at Barcelona. I couldn't bear being on the bench. It was an idiotic attitude."

The boy wizard coming of age with Porto
The boy wizard coming of age with Porto©AFP

Porto
• Signed in the deal that sent Deco to Camp Nou, Quaresma scored on his Porto debut in the 2004 UEFA Super Cup, got the winner in the Portuguese Super Cup against Benfica, then scored in the shoot-out against Once Caldas that clinched the European/South American Cup in December 2004.

• Lifted three titles and a Portuguese Cup in his first spell at Porto; later, a crowd of over 10,000 would attend his first training session back at the club following his return in January 2014. "I feel very proud to be back, I am loving football again," he said. "When I am happy, I fear nothing."

Internazionale
• Recruited by José Mourinho in 2008, Quaresma took the No77 shirt at Inter (countryman Luís Figo had his preferred No7), but an unhappy stint in Milan ensued and he was loaned to Chelsea in spring 2009. Played just 428 minutes in all competitions as the Nerazzurri claimed a 2009/10 Serie A, Italian Cup and UEFA Champions League treble.

• Failing to score in 32 Inter outings in all competitions, Quaresma won the 'Bidone d'Oro' (golden dustbin) award from a radio station as the most disappointing Serie A performer of 2008, and was runner-up in the 2009 poll behind Juventus's Felipe Melo. Team-mate Mario Balotelli said: "I don't know exactly what happened that season, but Ricardo remains one of the best players I have played with."

Huge crowds meet Quaresma on arrival in Turkey in 2010
Huge crowds meet Quaresma on arrival in Turkey in 2010©AFP

Beşiktaş
• His first Black Eagles strike, in a 3-0 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round home success over Viktoria Plzeň on 5 August 2010, ended a 785-day drought for club or country stretching back to Portugal's 3-1 EURO finals defeat of the Czech Republic on 11 June 2008.

• Landed the 2010/11 Turkish Cup in his first stay at Beşiktaş, and the 2015/16 Süper Lig in his second, and said: "Beşiktaş are the only Turkish club I will play for. If Beşiktaş don't want me, I will leave Turkey and go elsewhere because I have a deep connection with this club."

• Bought out the remainder of his first Beşiktaş contract to spend the latter half of season 2012/13 with Dubai-based al-Ahli. Substantial numbers of Black Eagles fans came to greet him at the airport when he rejoined in 2015.

• Having extended his deal until June 2020 last February, Quaresma has supplied ten Super League assists this term, the best record of his Beşiktaş career.

Portugal
• Struck the final winner against the Czech Republic as Portugal won the 2000 UEFA European Under-16 Championship, eventually making his senior bow in June 2003 in a friendly against Bolivia.

Watch Éder win Portugal the final
Watch Éder win Portugal the final

• Used sparingly during UEFA EURO 2008, and not at all at UEFA EURO 2012, he played a key part in Portugal's UEFA EURO 2016 triumph, scoring the extra-time round of 16 winner against Croatia and the shoot-out decider in the last eight against Poland.

• Replaced the injured Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal's UEFA EURO 2016 final win against France, later saying: "Even with the injury, [Ronaldo] never stopped, he kept supporting the team and that's why I say, not just as a friend, he is the only person I admire in football."

Cristiano Ronaldo and Quaresma go back a long way
Cristiano Ronaldo and Quaresma go back a long way©Getty Images

What you might not know
• Showed promise in karate and roller hockey as a child, before reluctantly switching to soccer. "I hated football," he said. "I started playing on a pitch in Campo de Ourique [Lisbon] because my brother played in goal and wanted me to take shots at him. My brother asked a coach if I could start training with the team. I was a bit rough and strong; I used to bash into the other boys and never passed to anyone, but I scored a lot of goals. My story is a bit odd because even I think: 'Why didn't I enjoy football if I was born to play it?'"

• Team-mates at Sporting early in their careers, Quaresma and and Ronaldo have a close bond; the Real Madrid ace dubbed him 'Puto Lelito' (gypsy kid), a nod to Quaresma's roma heritage.

• Quaresma is proud of the roots that earned him the nickname 'O Cigano' (the gypsy) in Portugal. "I am proud to be roma," he said, but noted he had been racially abused at times: "When I hear people say there is no racism nowadays, it makes me laugh."

• He says his mastery of the rabona is purely practical, explaining: "I don't trust my left foot. Everybody thinks I do the rabona because it looks good, but the truth is I can control the ball better with my right foot."

• Quaresma has three children (Ariana, with former partner Cátia Costa, as well as Ricardo and Kauana with wife Daphny); he also has two teardrops tattooed on his face, but has yet to reveal what they symbolise.

Quaresma celebrates a goal against Benfica
Quaresma celebrates a goal against Benfica©Getty Images

What he says
"When I find myself in a situation with three choices, I will always choose a dribble or a trick over a square ball or a 20-metre pass back. Life is all about risk and how you confront it and football is just the same. When I try something outrageous and it nearly comes off the crowd respond – that gives me hope that next time it will go right."

"Set pieces can get you three points, so I always set aside time to practise them. Young players can come through and eclipse you, and I don't like that, so that's why I keep up with my special training sessions after the main one is over."

"I made bad decisions at key moments in my career. I wanted everything too quickly, and that ended up harming me."

Beşiktaş’s all-time top European top scorer Oktay Derelioğlu
Beşiktaş’s all-time top European top scorer Oktay Derelioğlu©AFP

What he might achieve yet
• With 11 goals so far, Quaresma is third in the list of Beşiktaş's all-time top European goalscorers; he will match Bobô with one more, and is in sight of Oktay Derelioğlu's record of 14.

• Play in a FIFA World Cup. He missed the cut, for one reason or another, for the 2006, 2010 and 2014 tournaments. Will he get another chance in Russia in 2018?

• Win the UEFA Europa League; Inter won the UEFA Champions League during his time there, and he won UEFA EURO 2016 with Portugal. Can he complete his set of the three main UEFA trophies of his age?

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