Random Premier League Chancers: Roque Junior

By Mikey Traynor
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Welcome to ‘Random Premier League Chancers’, a weekly look at some of the strangest characters to have ever lined out in the English Premier League.

Typically transfers that didn’t work out and were quickly erased from the memories of most supporters, these men were the guys who’s name you heard a few times in Match Of The Day, then never heard from ever again.

This week we are taking a look at the World Cup winner who many hoped would be Leeds United's saviour from a relegation dogfight, but is now considered one of the signings that embodies Leeds' fall from grace. A name that will make any Leeds fan cringe, it's Roque Junior.

Jose Vitor Roque Junior was widely considered one of the best young talents in Brazil at the turn of the millennium. Having joined Palmeiras in 1995 at the age of 19, Roque Junior enjoyed five successful seasons which culminated in the young defender playing a starring role in the clubs 1999 Copa Libertadores win. Understandably, most of Europe's top clubs were sniffing around the towering Brazilian centre back.

AC Milan were the lucky club to secure his signature, and although he struggled to break into the squad (mainly due to the absolute absurdity of Milan's defensive options at the time such as Maldini, Costacurta, and Roberto Ayala) he was still named for Brazil's 2002 World Cup squad, and in fact, he started in a back three with Lucio and Edmilson as Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in the final. Seriously. Look, here's a picture of him celebrating with Ronaldo and Pele:


He returned to Milan and continued to become frustrated with a lack of first team opportunities, compiled by the signings of the utterly terrifying Jaap Stam, and the unquestionably classy Alessandro Nesta, so it was time for Roque to rock on to pastures new.


In 2002, following the success of Brazil at the World Cup, many of Europe's biggest clubs attempted to lure the stars of the squad away from their current clubs. Leeds did too. Unfortunately (at the time) they missed out on their main target Kleberson to bitter rivals Manchester United. One year on, after obviously dodging a bullet, they had not learned their lesson, and at last secured their World Cup winning Brazilian in the form of Roque Junior, joining on loan, who Peter Reid declared a "quality signing".

He was not, in any way, a quality signing.

Roque Junior suffered a rocky start in English football (honestly, sorry, that's the last rock related pun), as he made his debut in the infamous 4-0 defeat to a Paul Dickov inspired Leciester City, which has gone down as one of the truly great Sky Sports Fanzone commentary games of all time, as you can see from this absolutely beautiful piece of television which will live forever on YouTube:


[Watch Video]


He was even the subject of 'Player Cam' for the start of the game. Amazing.

But it would have been unfair to write off Roque Junior after one game, so Leeds fans (and all football fans with eyes) decided two games was enough, after he was sent off on his home debut against Birmingham in a 2-0 defeat.


There was a brief glimpse of hope for the Brazilian, as he scored twice against Manchester United in the League Cup, although Leeds would lose the game 3-2 in extra time. We decided to do the internet a favour and track down the footage to provide you with GIFs of both his brilliant goals.

The first, a powerful header with Ian Harte first over to celebrate:


The second, possibly the most ungraceful goal ever scored as he bundles the ball over the line with his knee:

Roque Junior's career in England was called short after just seven appearances, where Leeds conceded a stunning total of 24 goals during his time on the pitch. It really was best for everyone, except perhaps AC Milan, who loaned him out to Siena before terminating his contract in 2004.


In his next six seasons, he made a total of 52 appearances. He spent four years in Germany with Bayern Leverkusen and Duisberg, before a disastrous move to Qatar effectively brought a close to a terrible trip around the World.

Throughout this time Roque Junior enjoyed continued success with the Brazilian national team, as he played in the 2005 Confederations Cup win. In total he made 48 appearances for Brazil, and even wore the captain's armband on a number of occasions.

Here he is being out-muscled by Clinton Morrison:

And then being out-paced by Kevin Kilbane:

He was supposed to be a top level signing that brought Leeds United out of danger and back to European football, but instead, Roque Junior will always be remembered as an absolute chancer.

See also: Random Premier League Chancers: Afonso Alves

See also: Random Premier League Chancers: Eric Djemba-Djemba

See also: Random Premier League Chancers: Pascal Cygan

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