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Fábio Aurélio & His Tough Valencia Learning Curve in ’04

Fabio Aurelio at Valencia - Ultra UTD
Known for his set-piece ability for Valencia and Liverpool, it almost all never happened for Fabio Aurelio | Graphic produced in-house by Ultra UTD | No rights reserved for original subject images as per our embedded content policy.

Sometimes, this beautiful game of football provides a story which teaches us something which breaks the confines of the sport. And one of those is the concept of a personal injury crisis.

As Fabio Aurelio knows well, an injury can have a truly debilitating effect on a football player’s career – especially when its impact so starkly juxtaposes the promise of their form prior to it taking hold. In Fabio Aurelio’s case, his footballing CV begins with a prodigious stint back home with Sao Paulo.

By which point, that typical thing of European teams going: ‘oh there’s this decent-looking South American, we must get in there first to sign them right away’ occurred. This time, it was Valencia who decided to take the plunge on Aurelio – a decision which soon transformed him into a full-back favourite for then-manager Rafa Benitez. Whether Rafa himself remains a favourite at most of the clubs he’s served is now up for debate. But we move …

A manager who millennials might consign to a topsy-turvy stint at the helm of Newcastle United Football Club only a couple of years ago, it’s important to remember that he was once one of the most in-demand managers in the world. And a lot of this began back home with Valencia with players who typified his free-flowing tactical decisions.

Even in a relegation battle, Benitez liked the idea of having very well-rounded full-backs – otherwise known as wing-backs. Of course, it’s important for any defender (at first instance) to be good at that defending stuff, but getting the ball down at their feet and restarting the attack is almost equally as important.

This is where Fabio Aurelio comes in – whose attributes were mainly channeled into two key areas: his physical ability to get up and down the line, and his technical qualities with the ball at his left foot. He was soon even converted into Valencia’s primary set-piece taker by the end of the 2003/04 season before tragedy struck …

In a season which saw Valencia hoover up the domestic La Liga championship and the UEFA Cup, Fabio Aurelio sustained a broken leg which ruled him out for the majority of the campaign – an issue that was deemed so severe, that it wasn’t at all certain that he would return the same player he was before the incident.

Yet, like a phoenix rising through the ashes of despair, a focused, fully rehabilitated Fabio Aurelio returned. And it’s believed that it was his existing ability and new-found emotional strength which played a hand in Benitez’ later decision to bring him to Liverpool on a Bosman in 2006. All’s well that ends well …

What’s your favourite Fabio Aurelio moment? Get your thoughts down below!

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