FLÁVIO DA CONCEIÇÃO

Date of Birth: 12 June, 1974
Nationality: Brazil (international)
Period at Deportivo: 1996 - 2000
Transfer: 815 mln ptas (ca €5,2 million) (1996)
Previous Clubs: Palmeiras (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996), Rio Branco
Sold: 4.100 mln ptas (2000, to Real Madrid) (ca €26,3 million)
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Position: Defensive Midfielder (central/right)

Brazilian midfielder FLÁVIO CONCEIÇÃO was just 22-years old when he was signed by Deportivo in the winter months of the 1996/1997 season while bypassing interested Real Madrid. He came at the same time as compatriot Renaldo, although both players would live through different experiences. While the striker quickly proved to be a poor signing, Flávio Conceição played four impressive seasons at the club next to Mauro Silva, participated in 97 Liga matches, before being eventually sold to Real Madrid. After it, never would the midfielder recoup the form he showed at Deportivo.

The club had been following the strong midfielder for some months before just after the start of the 1996/1997 season they snatched him for just over €5 million from Palmeiras. Compare that to the €34 million Betis paid one year later to Sao Paulo for Denilson. Flávio Conceição had impressed during the 1996 Olympic Games and had scored some vital goals. Beside this, he formed a impressive team together with Rivaldo, Djalminha and Luizão at Palmeiras. In 1996, he rejected a lucrative contract at Real Madrid and signed at Deportivo until 2003. It was speculated that he would have an annual salary of about €900.000 for those years. "I didn't accept the offer of Real Madrid because I had given my word to Lendoiro", Flávio said later. Clubs like Barcelona, Internazionale and Parma also were related to the player. But eventually Lendoiro signed his second ‘star’ in just a few months. A proud president claimed that “we’re signing players for the future, like Rivaldo, Flávio, Bonissel and Wiltord for example”. Because of only a limited amount of non-EU players could be part of a Spanish squad, both player and club had to wait for Mauro Silva obtaining a Spanish/Brazilian double nationality and Milovanevic leaving before a spot was freed.

At first, Flávio Conceição had some problems acquiring a starting place. Depor’s midfield roster was crowded with Donato, Mauro Silva, Martins, Rivaldo, Fran and Martín-Vázquez. After some entries, his first starting position he acquired in an away match at… Real Madrid. After fifteen minutes he had scored his first goal in Spain. He started two other matches, and in between had a row with coach Toshack who not much later resigned. Flávio Conceição wasn’t picked for the starting eleven of Depor’s Copa match against Espanyol and left the stadium infuriated. Both player and coach eventually settled for peace, but the midfielder explained that he didn’t regret his action. “I haven’t come here to watch, but was contracted to play football. I rejected offers from Real Madrid and Barcelona and want to have an opportunity at Deportivo. When I knew from Toshack that I wouldn’t play, I preferred to go home”. Under new coach Carlos Alberto Silva there was another incident when Flávio Conceição went to Brazil without permission of the club.

From April 1997 on to his move to Real Madrid in 2000, Flávio Conceição’s status quickly was raised again. He was the man accompanying Mauro Silva in midfield those years. It's not that Flávio Conceição proved to be a world star, but his performances convinced all coaches, from Toshack and Silva to Corral and Irureta, that he was a midfielder who always did what was demanded. And he had it all: physics, technique, youth and goalscoring abilities..

Flávio Conceição had indicated on occasions that he wanted to try his luck at a bigger club and in 1998 presented an offer of AC Milan ($10 million) to his club. Brazilian midfielder Leonardo (60 caps) was also mentioned as possible part of the deal. But president Lendoiro always rejected incoming offers, like in 1999 when several big Italian clubs were after him. Once, Italy newspapers claimed that Internazionale were prepared to pay his buy-out clause of almost €32 million. It wouldn’t really have been a surprise because it were the years when money wasn’t a real issue for the bigger clubs, especially in Italy. For example, striker Vieri moved from Atlético to Lazio in 1998 for €30 million and one year later was signed to Internazionale for €45 million. Parma paid €34 million for Udinese’s Amoros, and sold midfielder Verón to Lazio for €32 million. Nicolas Anelka signed at Real Madrid for €32 million.

But Lendoiro always had the idea to sell Flávio Conceição when the time was right. Besides, his performances and increasing salary demands made him difficult to keep. In 2000 that moment arrived, when Real Madrid started their spending era: they paid €61 million to FC Barcelona for Luis Figo and might even have considered the €26 million they paid for Flávio Conceição as a bargain. At Deportivo the midfielder had finished his job by winning the Liga title.

Before signing at Deportivo the midfielder already had made his international debut in the Brazil-Argentina encounter in November 1995. He would play dozens of matches more and won the Copa America in 1997 and 1999. At Real Madrid he was less lucky, partly because of injuries, and only played a reasonable amount of matches (22) in his third season (2002/2003). But David Beckham arrived one season later, and Conceição was loaned out to German club Borussia Dortmund where he failed to make in impact. In 2004 he moved on to Galatasaray, but this club didn't make it to the Champions League. This activated a clause in his contract which allowed him to leave and he joined Panathinaikos for just €500,000. Neither in Greece did he manage to fulfil the fans expectations and during the 2005-2006 winter transfer window, aged 32, he was released by the club.

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