Tom: “Raise. Thierry Fidjeu.”
Marco: “I see your Thierry Fidjeu, and raise you a Douglas dos Santos.”
Tom: “A what now?”
Marco: “A Douglas dos Santos. You know, that bloke who was at Port in 2010 who never played a competitive game.”
Tom: “Erm… No?”
Marco: “You know the guy, no photographic evidence of his time with Port and no record of where he’s been before or since.”
Tom: “Fine, you win. I’m not playing anymore.”
In this prequel to Past Forward: Port’s Foreign Strikers Since 2012, Marco takes us all the way back to 2009. Where Wikipedia and Transfermarkt fail, Marco’s treasure chest of knowledge succeeds in bringing us some fascinating stories from the glory days when Port were winning FA Cups, and their strikers were… oh, right… they were still rubbish. Take it away, Marco!
We’ll start with Thai Port’s FA Cup Final hero Edvaldo. ‘Eddie’ arrived in Thailand with a CV as long as your arm and more stamps in his passport than a dodgy English teacher, having plied his trade in Portugal, Switzerland, Mexico, USA, Ecuador and China – as well as several clubs in Brazil. He was tall and strong but about as mobile as an IKEA wardrobe. He was, however, a very effective target man – the perfect foil for his goal poaching strike partner Pipat Tonkanya. The pair combined for Edvaldo’s goal in the 2009 FA Cup Final to level the score at 1-1 after Wuttichai Tatong had given BEC Tero the lead. The Brazilian also calmly slotted a penalty in the subsequent shoot-out – which we won 5-4 – ending Port’s 16-year trophy drought.
His FA Cup Final heroics proved to be the high-point of Edvaldo’s time at PAT Stadium. He was retained for the 2010 season but barely featured amid rumours of a bust-up with manager Sasom Pobpraserd. He was allowed to leave during the mid-season transfer window and joined Chiang Rai United for the remainder of the campaign, scoring 8 in 16 games. Eddie continued playing for one last season with lower league side Phang Nga F.C. before calling time on his career at the age of 37 with his name firmly etched into Thai Port folklore.
Next up is Douglas Dos Santos. The odd man out during the 2010 season – the original Matias Jadue. A player so obscure, there is no photographic evidence of his time at PAT Stadium. He definitely exists though, honestly. I remember him playing in an attacking midfielder/striker role in a few friendly games. He joined us aged 30-year-old from… erm ….not sure… and he left during the mid-season break and signed for… erm …not sure.
The one thing we can say with 100% certainty about Douglas is that he failed to make a first-team appearance for Thai Port. He signed during pre-season but Sasom then added Yoshiaki Maruyama, Hiroshi Morita and Jacob Aikhiobare to a squad that already contained four foreign players; Edvaldo, Mario Cesar Da Silva, Ulrich Munze and Moudourou Swa-Moise. 8 into 7 doesn’t go, so Douglas was left to kick his heels for 6 months before departing mid-season with his anonymity well and truly intact.
The lesson of signing one foreign player too many was not heeded and the same situation arose in the 2011 season with calamitous consequences. English defender Jay Harris penned a contract at PAT Stadium and was fully expected fill the seventh foreign player spot. However, a day before the Transfer Deadline, we signed Yu Myeong Han and registered him in our TPL squad instead of Harris. The South Korean defender then broke an ankle in one his first training sessions, leaving us with 7 fit foreign players on the books but only 6 of them available for selection for the first half of the season. You couldn’t make it up. (Ed – Thai Fussball interviewed Jay Harris, and talked in depth about this situation and lots of other Port-related stuff – an excellent read! click here)
Japanese striker Hiroshi Morita joined Port from J-League 2 side Ventforet Kofu a few weeks into the 2010 season. The gangly forward didn’t have the best of times in Khlong Toei, netting just one goal for the club in a 2-0 away win at Army United. With Sasom happy to let Sarayoot Chaikamdee, Sompong Soleb and Jacob Aikhionbare spearhead the attack, Morita said sayonara to Thai football during the mid-season break and joined ambitious J-League 3 side V-Varen Nagasaki, where he scored 4 goals in 13 games.
It is fair to say that we didn’t see the best of a striker who was clearly coming towards the end of his playing days. The most successful spell of his career was with Omiya Ardija for whom he scored their first ever J-League 1 goal in 2005. On top of that he bagged a match-winner against local rivals Urawa Red Diamonds at Saitama Stadium. That pretty much guaranteed his ‘cult hero’ status with Omiya supporters. He definitely won’t be remembered as fondly by Thai Port fans, if he is even remembered at all.
Jacob Aikhionbare – The pacey Nigerian forward joined Port from Sunshine Stars in 2010 (despite what his Wikipedia page says). He had a good first season at PAT Stadium, scoring plenty of goals – including a brace in the unforgettable League Cup Semi-Final second leg against Siam Navy. Thai Port were 4-1 down on aggregate with 34 minutes remaining and fought back to win 5-4 at an empty PAT Stadium (due to yet another fan ban). Our name was clearly on the Cup. They should have handed us the trophy straight after that game.
Jacob was also a first-team regular during the 2011 season. Port reached the final of the League Cup for the second season in a row and finished seventh in the league – despite 4 influential players and the manager joining Buriram FC mid-season. Several other squad members, including Jacob, left at the end of the season after a dispute over unpaid wages and on-going uncertainty over the future of the club.
He joined BBCU (now defunct) for the 2012 season, a club with a minuscule fanbase. Why they decided to play their 2012 fixtures at the cavernous Rajamangala Stadium is anyone’s guess. The season didn’t go well for Jacob or BBCU in their grandiose surroundings. He scored just two goals – one was against us, obviously – whilst BBCU won only 4 games and were relegated along with Port and TTM.
Jacob has subsequently played for both Globlex F.C. (now defunct) and Samut Prakan United in the lower leagues.
Valci Junior – The Steve Claridge of Thai football. In Thailand alone he has played for TOT (defunct), Sisaket, TTM (defunct), Thai Port, Nakhon Ratchasima, Rayong United, Bangkok FC, Krabi, Ayutthaya and Udon Thani – where he spent the 2017 season. On top of that you can add spells in his native Brazil, Oman and Japan. To call the 30-year-old ‘nomadic’ would be something of an understatement.
Valci’s goalscoring prowess over the years – if you believe his Wikipedia page – looks impressive. He allegedly scored 7 league goals for Port in 18 games in 2011. I’m far from convinced. He was sidelined for most of the campaign with an ankle injury sustained in the fifth game of the season – at which point he hadn’t scored a single goal for the club and had barely broken sweat in any of the games. He ranks alongside Kaluderovic as the laziest player I’ve seen at PAT Stadium. He might have scored 1 or 2 league goals towards the end of the season but none immediately spring to mind. You can draw your own conclusions on this one.
The next player was so forgettable I had to really wrack my brain just to remember his name. Bruno Santos was a member of the Port squad for the 2012 season, joining from Chainat. He was injured more often than not during his time at PAT Stadium. When he was fit, he looked very poor in an awful side that were relegated to the second tier. He definitely scored at least one goal in a Port shirt – an equaliser in a 2-2 draw against his former club Chainat. Sadly he doesn’t have a Wikipedia page with an artificially inflated goals tally, so we’ll never know if he added to his account.
Where he’s been playing in the intervening years remains a bit of a mystery, but he was back on the radar at the start of the current season when he joined Ubon Ratchathani F.C. in T3. He netted only 3 goals during the campaign. Not exactly a goal machine is our Bruno.
Last but not least is Alex Ruella. He first came to my attention during the 2011 season when he tore the Muangthong United defence to shreds at Yamaha Stadium during Robbie Fowler’s ill-fated stint as manager. Siam Navy won 3-1 that night and the two outstanding performers – Ruella and Olof Watson – both joined Port for the 2012 campaign.
Alex was by no means an out-and-out striker but he was always loitering with intent in the final third. He had great technique, an eye for goal, good skills and an uncanny ability to con referees into awarding free-kicks and penalties in his favour. He wasn’t quite in the same league as Leandro or Thiago Cunha for diving, play-acting and waving imaginary yellow cards, but he ran them pretty close.
His one year stint at PAT Stadium coincided with relegation, unpaid salaries and question marks over Port’s future. It came as no surprise to anyone when he left at the first available opportunity. His career, though, was put on hold when he was involved in a car accident in Brazil. He fought his way back to full-fitness and returned to Thailand to join Angthong, where he spent two years before signing for PTT Rayong in 2016.
I had a nagging feeling I’d forgotten someone. I was right. Read on, however, and you will understand why Ibrahim Khalil Doumbia was so easy to forget.
The Ivorian signed a six-month deal at PAT Stadium during the 2009 mid-season break and was added to the squad to bolster our attacking options for the remainder of the campaign. It didn’t exactly go to plan.
The 6’4″ striker had previously played for Stella Club d’Adjamé – less than stellar, though, were his performances in friendly games for his new side. He quickly found himself well down the pecking order and out the manager’s plans. He failed to make a competitive appearance for the club and was released at the end of the season. (Ed – The only trace I can find of this guy is a Danish website which claims that he was born on January 1st 1970. Either www.bold.dk is wrong, or he was pulling an Obafemi Martins on us!)
Doumbia has since been joined by Douglas dos Santos, Yu Myeong Han, Jay Harris and Asdrubal in the ‘foreign players who never made a first team appearance’ club. Matias Jadue’s membership application is currently waiting to be rubber-stamped.
So, we’ve made it all the way back to 2009 with our strikers. Have we missed anyone? If you have any suggestions for more players from the old days who deserve a mention or even an article written about them, don’t hesitate to send us your comments or your articles. At the Sandpit, we welcome guest contributions in all shapes and sizes!