Hard to believe that Hugo Viana is still only 32 years old.
Sir Bobby Robson signed him back in summer 2002 for a hefty £8.5m as a 19 year old, the next big thing we were told.
Viana’s career proved to be in Spain and Portugal with the game/climate maybe more suited to a player with a sweet left foot but little pace.
It turns out that he has then spent the last two and a half years in the Arabian Gulf League, winning it with Al Ahli before moving on to current club Al Wasl.
Undoubtedly, Hugo Viana’s finest moment at Newcastle was in the exhilarating 3-2 win at Feyenoord (playing alongside Gary Speed) that took United into the next stages after having initially lost their opening three group matches (Watch the goals in the video footage below, including Hugo Viana putting Newcastle 2-0 up, that is on 1.40 if you want to go straight to that goal).
Hugh Viana talking about arriving at Newcastle and adapting…:
“Even the first week driving a car. Oh, my God …”
“The most difficult thing was the language. For the first six months I didn’t know any English, so I heard my name and didn’t know what they were saying about me.
“I wasn’t prepared for the English mentality. When you are injured in England it’s normal to play in the second team to get fit for the next game. But in Portugal, when you go to the second team it means you’ve been demoted. So I wasn’t prepared. I had some problems with that.”
As for Gary Speed, Hugo Viana heard about his former teammate’s death shortly before playing for Braga in an important league match in Portugal in November 2011.
After winning the match, Hugo Viana pulled off his Braga shirt to reveal a T-shirt that read: ‘Gary — Rest In Peace’.
“I saw it on the internet. Just shock. I think everyone was surprised by that horrible thing. No one could expect that.
“It was also (wearing that t-shirt) for his family and friends, Gary was a very good guy, very mature, very responsible. He was a top professional player and also a top man. From his career, you’d never expect he would make something wrong in his life.
“I learnt a lot from Gary. I think he knew he wasn’t the best player technically, but as a worker he was unbelievable. Every time the first person inside the dressing room, the first player for work, first player to go gym.
“He was an amazing person. Football lost not only an unbelievable professional, but also a person.”