Ricardo Quaresma is the ultimate enigma.
A played who oozes talent and confidence, Quaresma looked to be destined for greatness when he broke into Sporting Clube de Portugal’s first team 12 years ago.
Take that in – it has been 12 years since the self-confident trickster announced himself to the Portuguese public. He would be something special. He was definitely destined for more than Ronaldo.
Twelve years later and a lot of people are feeling pretty foolish.
From being heralded as Portugal’s golden boy to ending up as a 30-year-old has-been, his career is littered with failed transfers and unfulfilled potential.
But what went wrong for Quaresma?
After leaving Sporting CP for Barcelona in 2003, Quaresma moved clubs frequently, but has often failed to find a home, and mixed spells with Inter Milan, Chelsea, Beşiktaş and Al Ahli Dubai left the winger with a career full of missed opportunities.
He always hit a roadblock.
Perhaps Quaresma was too arrogant, forever willing to showcase his skills but never willing to work on them. Maybe his personality got him in trouble with his managers. It’s possible he just never found the right move, the right team, the right style. Likely, he lacked the professionalism that it takes to make it at the very top level.
The truth is that nobody but Ricardo Quaresma (and maybe not even him) will ever know why he continuously failed. But he almost always did. Almost.
The only shining light: a four-season spell with FC Porto from 2004-2008. In the Dragão, Quaresma came alive.
Nicknamed Harry Potter by the Porto fans, (due to his extraordinary ability and unrivalled bag of tricks) Quaresma played in 114 Liga Sagres games for the Dragões, capturing the hearts of Portistas and showing the world his true quality.
At Porto, Quaresma was what his entire career promised to be – he was unstoppable, impossible to predict and, above all, a sheer joy to watch. Porto’s new icon spent years scoring ridiculous goal after ridiculous goal, embarrassing defenders with his skill and wowing fans with his famous “trivela” shots.
He was the jewel in Porto’s crown, and at the peak of his powers there was no other player quite like him in world football.
While every other move in his career was met with some degree of failure, Ricardo Quaresma was worth his weight in gold at the Estádio do Dragão.
Every club since then has brought him nothing but heartache.
And with his career on the brink of disappearing into nothingness, Porto gave him a second chance – in January of 2014, Porto officially announced the re-signing of Quaresma from Al Ahli.
Five and a half years years after leaving the club, and it looks like he’s never been gone. Despite his anti-climatic career, Quaresma has seamlessly slotted back into Porto’s team, securing a starting position and beginning to produce dazzling displays again – oh, and golazos, too.
His rebirth at Porto comes at a perfect time for him – with the 2014 FIFA World Cup looming, Quaresma will be itching to know if he’s in Paulo Bento’s plans.
And there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be.
Despite having one of the best wingers football has ever seen in Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s other flank has been long overdue for a fresh face.
Bento’s persistence with Nani, who has been extremely disappointing in his last few seasons with Manchester United, is puzzling. But with the re-emergence of Quaresma, Bento may finally have the right man to help Ronaldo make Portugal’s widemen a thing to be feared.
With Portugal having the perfect test of their world cup credentials in Group G, Quaresma’s timely return to Porto could be the missing piece of the jigsaw for Bento.
At the age of 30, Quaresma’s immense potential will forever go unfulfilled. But at FC Porto he has the chance to leave his mark; perhaps not in the history of world football, but as a hero in the eyes of Portistas.
And if his impending return to the Selecção makes the desired impact, maybe it isn’t too late for the enigmatic winger to leave his mark on history after all.
Maybe there’s one final chance for the world to remember the name Ricardo Quaresma.