After working his way through the ranks of União Desportiva de Leiria, Mika would make his Primeira Liga debut a month before his nineteenth birthday.
It would only take four full appearances before Benfica made their move in the summer of 2011 whilst Mika was on duty with the Portuguese Under-20s. This would result in a £500,000 transfer fee and a five-year contract.
He would spend three years with the Lisbon club where he would make over thirty appearances for the B-team in the Segunda Liga.
Mika’s release from his contract in January 2014 was followed by spells at Atlético Clube de Portugal and Boavista where he would make almost sixty appearances.
After reported interest from Leicester City he would eventually sign for Sunderland after an appeal to FIFA following a fault in the initial paperwork on the final day of the summer transfer window in 2016.
Mika would be third choice behind Jordan Pickford and Vito Mannone and did not play a first team game ahead of his release in January 2018.
In June 2018, he signed for our opponents on Saturday, Belenenses, where he played two games last season.
Out of all the clubs that he represented during his twenty-one years as a professional footballer, it would be fair to say Brian Deane will not be remembered for his spells with Sunderland and Benfica.
Deane started out at Doncaster Rovers between 1985 and 1988 before his career would really take off after a £25,000 move down the road to Sheffield United.
A five-year stay at Bramall Lane would include guiding the Blades to a place in the inaugural season of the new F.A Premier League, where he would achieve the distinction of scoring the first ever goal in the Premier League against Manchester United in August 1992.
Also whilst at Sheffield United, Deane would be capped three times by England under Graham Taylor, with his last cap coming against Spain in September 1992.
Leeds United would come calling in the following summer with a bid of £2.9million, which would be records for Leeds United and Sheffield United.
Four fairly successful years in North Yorkshire would end with a record of 32 goals in 138 Premier League appearances, which in turn would end in another short trip back to South Yorkshire in a £1.5 million return to the Blades in 1997.
This spell would last only one season before a move to Graeme Souness’ Benfica in a deal worth £1 million the following summer. In nine months in Lisbon, Deane would score seven in eighteen appearances before moving to Middlesbrough for a reported £3 million.
Short spells at Leicester City, West Ham United and a second stop at Elland Road followed before Mick McCarthy boosted the Sunderland ranks bringing the then 37-year-old Deane in as back-up in 2005.
He would make only four appearances on Wearside before retiring in 2006 after moves to Australia with Perth Glory and a third move to Sheffield United, making him the only player to have signed for the club three times.
Possibly my favourite footballer to play for the lads. For me things started to get serious when he signed for Sunderland.
His professional career started at Malmö FF 1987 following two years with Bayer Leverkusen’s youth team. A move to Benfica would arise after only thirty-two appearances for the Swedish club.
Three years and seventy-seven appearances later, and also after impressing during the 1994 World Cup by helping Sweden to a third-place finish, Schwarz made his first move to England when George Graham signed him for Arsenal in the summer of 1994.
Despite making the most appearances for Arsenal other than David Seaman that year it would coincide with a rare chaotic year in the North London clubs history. George Graham would be sacked in February and Stewart Houston would take the caretaker role and guide the club to a 12th place finish after a brief flirt with relegation.
His final appearance for Arsenal would be the famous UEFA Cup Winners Cup final where Nayim would outrageously volley the ball over David Seaman from the half-way line in the last minute of extra-time to win the cup for Real Zaragoza.
Despite winning over the fans at Highbury, Bruce Rioch, in his wisdom, would determine his services were no longer needed after the purchase of David Platt, and so a move to Italy in the form of Fiorentina would quickly follow.
Two successful years in Italy making seventy-eight appearances would end with a move to Valencia. His stay in Spain would only last one season when Peter Reid identified the Swede as the perfect man to help offset the loss of Lee Clark and Allan Johnston, to steady the ship on our return to the Premier League in the summer of 1999.
On his debut (which coincided with the first Premier League game at the Stadium of Light, against Watford) it didn’t take long for everyone to realise it was a bargain buy at £4 million.
With precise passing and tireless work rate, Schwarz would fit perfectly into Peter Reid’s side, helping the team to consecutive 7th place finishes.
Unfortunately, his fitness would decline at a similar rate to Peter Reid’s tenure at the club and he would retire after leaving Sunderland in 2003 at the age of 34.