Abel Xavier — Friday’s Forgotten Footballer

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Abel Xavier

Xavier was arguably more renowned for his eye-catching hairstyle than his footballing ability

Full name: Abel Luís da Silva Costa Xavier
Date of Birth: 30 November, 1972
Position: Defender
Clubs: Estrela da Amadora, Benfica, Bari, Real Oviedo, PSV, Everton, Liverpool, Galatasaray, Hannover 96, Roma, Middlesbrough, LA Galaxy

Portugual defender Abel Xavier represented a staggering 12 clubs in a career which spanned two decades before retiring in November 2008.

Xavier, who was arguably more renowned for his eye-catching hairstyle than his footballing ability, began his career at the Estrela da Amadora where he made 85 Portuguese League appearances for Estrela. He then earned himself a move to the illustrious Benfica at the age of 21.

In 1994 while playing for the Lisbon club he won the Portuguese league.

One year later the Mozambique-born defender made the move to Serie A with Bari, but he failed to make an impact and switched the Italian championship for La Liga in 1996.

It triggered a series of moves which saw Xavier play for Real Oviedo, PSV Eindhoven, Everton and then Liverpool. The defender scored on his debut for the Reds against Ipswich Town but ultimately failed to impress at Anfield.

At the end of the 2002-03 campaign he was loaned out to Galatasaray, but again it was a short stay in Turkey as he moved to Hannover 96 followed by Roma.

As he reached the twilight of his career Xavier returned to the Premier League with Middlesbrough. In a two-year stint he made 18 appearances for the Riverside club where he served a one-year ban for failing a drugs test.

In 2007 he moved to the United States and joined David Beckham at LA Galaxy. He appeared on 21 occasions in Major League Soccer before retiring.

On the international front Xavier earned 20 caps and he featured heavily for Portugal at Euro 2000.

He was a pivotal figure in their successful run to the semi-finals but the tournament ended on a sour note for the defender when he conceded a late penalty, allowing Zinedine Zidane to step up and send France into the final.

Since he quit football Xavier has turned to Islam. He has changed his name to Faisal Xavier and has embarked on humanitarian projects after he turns his back on football.

“In moments of grief, I have found comfort in Islam,” he told Goal.com. “Slowly, I learned a religion that professes peace, equality, freedom and hope. These are foundations with which I identify.”

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