Kleberson has been speaking about his time at Old Trafford.
Kleberson is a name that might not ring a bell with younger Manchester United fans but those of a certain age will remember being excited by his signing back in 2003.
A 2002 World Cup winner with Brazil, Kleberson arrived at Old Trafford during a busy summer that also saw Cristiano Ronaldo join the club, along with less heralded players such as Eric Djemba-Djemba and David Bellion.
Despite a handful of decent performances for Alex Ferguson’s side, it’s fair to say that Kleberson didn’t set the world alight at United but it’s still a time he looks back on fondly, as he has revealed in a piece for the club’s official website.
Kleberson: “I was happy that Cristiano Ronaldo joined.”
While the former midfielder cites a language barrier as one of the difficulties faced by he and his partner in Manchester, he lists a number of people who tried to help him settle into the city.
“Firstly, I was so happy that Cristiano Ronaldo had also just signed, because it meant I wasn’t the only one speaking Portuguese,” Kleberson says.
“I also had Diego Forlan, because we both spoke Spanish, Quinton Fortune was amazing how he helped me with what people were saying, what Ferguson was saying.”
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“They were too far ahead of us.”
While United’s overseas stars helped Kleberson off the pitch, he credits the British and Irish core of the squad with doing their best to improve his game on the training field.
“In the club at that time, we had players with great background – Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane – and they brought in young guys like me and Eric Djemba-Djemba to fight with those guys… it was not a fair fight, to be honest!
“Those guys knew how to play in the Premier League, they had grown up there. Me and Djemba-Djemba just had dreams of beating those guys, and they were very nice guys, very patient – saying that we were the future, trying to help us – but they were just too far ahead of us.”
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Kleberson: “I hope to go back to Old Trafford.”
The now 42-year-old is probably best remembered for his contribution to Wayne Rooney’s memorable debut against Fenerbahce in 2004, during which the ex-Everton youngster introduced himself to the Old Trafford crowd by scoring a hat-trick.
That was about as good as it got for Kleberson at United and he moved on to Besiktas after just two years before winding down his career in Brazil and the United States.
Now an academy coach at MLS side Philadelphia Union, Kleberson credits the lessons he learned at Old Trafford with helping him in his current role.
“My time at United is still important for me because I still use a lot of the things I learned in England to teach the kids I’m working with now,” he says.
“People may not think it went so well for me at United, but I had a great time, enjoyed myself, made a lot of good friends and that’s one thing I’ll always remember. I hope to one day go back to Old Trafford but, even if I don’t, I’m happy with my story.”