Bringing in the maturity

The Asian Age.

Sports, Football

The Islanders have completed the fifth signing with Machado who will largely be an asset to the squad.

Egidijus Vaitkunas, right, of Lithuania’s FC Zalgiris is challenged by Paulo Machado (Photo: AP)

Mumbai City FC announced the signing of Portuguese international Paulo Machado on Friday. More than an influence on the team, the midfielder is an addition that will bolster the squad having the experience of playing in the top leagues of Europe.

Paulo has joined the Mumbai franchise on a one-year deal. The 32-year old footballer becomes the fifth foreign recruit for Jorge Costa’s Islanders.

An experienced campaigner in some of Europe’s most elite competitions, Paulo joins Mumbai City FC off the back of a successful campaign with Portuguese side CD Aves, winning the Taça de Portugal.

Interestingly, Paulo played under now-coach Costa’s captaincy in Porto. He will head to Thailand where MCFC is playing its pre-season games. “Paulo has been a household name in top-level Portuguese and European football for many years now. He brings with him so many years of experience and a strong winning mentality,” said Costa who is happy to reunite with his Portuguese compatriot.

“Paulo was only breaking in during my time at Porto but it was all there to be seen, even 14 years ago. I am excited to work with him once again and I’m confident he can be an important figure in this side,” he added.

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After graduating from FC Porto’s youth set-up, Paulo is reunited with Jorge Costa, once his captain and now his head coach at Mumbai City FC. In a five-year stint with Porto, a young Paulo enjoyed loan spells with Portuguese sides Estrela Amadora, União Leiria and Leixões.

Paulo made his first move outside Portugal when signed on loan for French side AS Saint-Étienne. After impressing in the French Ligue 1, he joined Toulouse ahead of the 2009-10 season and went on to play for Les Violetsfor three seasons.

Just a couple of phone calls and Paulo was ready to be a part of Costa’s plans. “When Jorge Costa and Mumbai City FC presented this opportunity to me to join this wonderful club, I did not have to think twice. There are so many reasons for me to be excited,” he said.

“I can’t wait to be in Mumbai and meet the fans. But before that, I hope I can join my teammates soon in Thailand for the pre-season and get on with the training and the hard work.”

 The central midfielder further moved to Greece for a new challenge where he signed with Olympiacos, winning the Super League Greece twice in as many seasons with the club and also won the Greek Cup on one occasion. He was also an integral figure for the club in the UEFA Champions League, helping the club notch famous wins over Arsenal, Manchester United, Benfica and one Round of 16 finish in the 2013/14 season.

Adding to his exploits at the club level, Paulo Machado has climbed the international ladder from a young age. Paulo has represented his country at the

U-17 level, winning the 2003 UEFA U-17 European Championships with Portugal. He’s also represented his country at the U-20, U-21 and U-23 levels before becoming a full international player, with six caps to his name.

It looks like a healthy addition to the team that is rebuilding after a terrible season last year. A senior figure who has experienced football at the highest levels under decorated coaches will certainly boost the young players’ morale.