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Played For Both: Brazilian Defender Emerson Thome

We profile a star of yesteryear who turned out for both Sunderland and this Saturday's west London opponents Chelsea - today it's Emerson Thome's time spent at both clubs under the spotlight.

Emerson Thome pictured during his Sunderland days
Emerson Thome pictured during his Sunderland days
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Brazilian central defender Emerson Thome made his name in England with Sheffield Wednesday having built a strong reputation in Portuguese football, most notably in the red of Benfica.

His impressive form at Hillsborough earned him a move to Stamford Bridge when Chelsea stumped up £2.7million to secure his services in 1999.

The South American won the FA Cup during his time with the Blues, but found it hard to cement a spot in the starting line-up.

He was to remain in west London for a mere nine months, as Thome found it almost impossible to separate the preferred pairing of French duo Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf at the back.

However, he found himself in great demand when it became clear he'd need to move on and it was Peter Reid who managed to snap him up for Sunderland at a fee in the region of £4.5million.

Great in the air, fast and tough in the tackle, Thome made an immediate impact at the Stadium of Light and went on to become something of a cult hero with supporters.

His passing often proved wayward in comparison with a typical Brazilian footballer; his defensive attributes more than made up for it and made him an incredibly difficult obstacle to overcome.

Additionally, he took young Argentine Julio Arca under his wing in a bid to help his fellow South American settle into unfamiliar surroundings on Wearside.

That 'Big Brother' approach served to show what a good guy Emerson is and he can surely claim a fair share of credit for Arca's subsequent outstanding success.

Thome unfortunately suffered a series of injury setbacks throughout the three years he spent with the Black Cats, but would regularly attend home games even when he was forced out of action.

Now 42 years of age, the Porto Alegre-born star moved on to short stints with Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Derby County and J-League outfit Vissel Kobe prior to retirement in 2007.

The powerful stopper made over 50 appearances in all competitions while based in the north-east, 44 of which arrived in league games. He also netted twice for the red-and-white army and is fondly remembered by many of those connected to the club as a whole-hearted player who gave absolutely everything for the cause.

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