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RR Archive: An interview with Ex-Sunderland defender, Emerson Thome!

Since he is 50 years old today - happy birthday by the way, Emerson - we revisit an interview RR conducted with the hardcase Brazilian former Sunderland defender back in 2012...

Interview was originally published in 2012, conducted by Simon Walsh.

RR: How did you find your move to England with Sheffield Wednesday? Was it a culture shock from leaving Portugal?

Emerson: Not really, I was made very welcome by the club, and it was just a matter of time to learn the language as quick as possible and to communicate properly, get myself around and deal with the normal issues in life.

RR: Your move to Sunderland was apparently not sanctioned by Gianluca Vialli, who wanted to keep you around at Stamford Bridge. What went on there?

Emerson: It’s a long story, but when I found out Chelsea were bringing in a new manager, and then on top of that I find out he wanted to bring in Winston Bogarde from Barcelona, it was just a matter of time before I moved on. Chelsea informed me about the interest from some other clubs, and later they agreed a fee with three clubs, At the end of the day, they made a good profit and I got to play for a club who really wanted me.

Soccer - FA Carling Premiership - Coventry City v Chelsea Photo by Mike Egerton/EMPICS via Getty Images

RR: You became a bit of a fan favourite at Sunderland during your time here, what are your favourite memories of being at the club?

Emerson: The best memories for me were definitely home games, and the Stadium Of Light crowd cheering us on. Also I will never forget the wins over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge 2-4 and to beat Newcastle twice an St. James’ Park (as it was), was a fantastic feeling.

RR: There were rumours that you were left out of the team towards the end of the 02/03 season as you were close to triggering a clause in your contract for playing 50 games. Was this true, and if so, were you disappointed with the management for doing it?

Emerson: Well unfortunately for me and for the club at the time, this was true.

I think at the time, the manager, Howard Wilkinson, and the club, didn’t handle the matter well. I think both the club and myself, lost a lot, at the end everyone involved paid the price - the club was relegated and the manager was sacked.

When Mick McCarthy came it was was too late.

RR: It wasn’t just the fans who liked you though, it’s said that Julio Arca called you “Dad” during your time on Wearside. Do you keep in touch with your “Son” or any other players from your time at the club?

Emerson: Yes, it’s true I have a great friendship with Julio, and also is true I keep in contact with him. I also stay in touch often with Stefan Schwarz, he’s also a good friend.

Youri Djorkaeff of Bolton Wanderers and Julio Arca and Emerson Thome of Sunderland Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

RR: You’re now doing scouting work for Everton in Portugal [Ed’s note: remember, this question was asked ten years ago!], what attracted you to scouting as most former players tend to go into media or coaching?

Emerson: Towards the end of my career, when I was playing in Japan, A very good friend called me and mentioned that there was the possibility for me to scout for Everton. I took few days to think about it, and when I finished my career, I took a break for few months to settle down, then after that I started scouting, and I’ve been really enjoying it.

RR: What criteria are you looking for in players, and what in your opinion, qualities do they need to succeed in English football?

Emerson: It’s a different ball game in England, even now with many foreigners in the league. A player will need to adjust and adapt as quick as possible. Away from that, I look for a player who can deal with the pace, and as a foreigner, he will need to bring something different to the team.

RR: Finally, if you could comprise a “Best XI” of players you’ve played alongside, who would be in it. Feel free to include yourself...

Emerson: I’m sorry for the rest of my former teammates, but I have being lucky to play alongside great players. I think this would be the best I’ve played alongside...

Thomas Sorensen; Albert Ferrer, Emerson Thome, Marcel Desailly, Julio Arca, Stefan Schwarz, Didier Dechamps, Gustavo Poyet, Jay-Jay Okocha, Gianfanco Zola and George Weah.

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