Despite accusations that Bebe was used as a means to move money around by mighty power brokers such as Manchester United and super-agent Jorge Mendes, at the centre of all the turmoil, the disappointments and the moves, is a simple tale of a boy done good.
Bebe arrived in Manchester on the back of a narrative that the youngster had risen from the struggles of homelessness to sign for one of the world’s biggest football clubs. Although Bebe was never actually forced to live on the streets – his parents were unable to look after him and he ended up living in the Casa Do Gaiato, a shelter for young people on the outskirts of Lisbon – his was nonetheless a genuine rags to riches tale.
There was also intrigue regarding the circumstances of Bebe’s arrival at Old Trafford from Vitoria de Guimaraes, as he had only signed for the Portuguese Primera Liga team five weeks previously from third tier side Estrela da Amadora, who couldn’t afford to pay his wages. The player had also just signed with his new agent Mendes – also agent of former United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz who was said to have recommended Bebe to his old club – who pocketed almost £3million from the transfer.
Chief executive of Manchester United at the time, David Gill, admitted that it took just a week for Bebe to convince the United hierarchy that he was worth a punt at more than £7million, after impressing for his new side during pre-season. United paid up the release clause amid reported interest from Real Madrid, and for the first time Sir Alex Ferguson signed a player that he had never seen play.
There was to be no fairytale ending, however, as Bebe struggled at Old Trafford and made just two substitute League appearances and a total of seven in what amounted to a four-year stay at United, during which time he suffered an unfortunate cruciate ligament injury and was loaned out three times.
Standing nearly 6 foot 3 tall and blessed with pace and a powerful right foot, Bebe seemed to have the attributes needed for the Premier League. However a lack of quality, composure, end product and willingness to work hard curtailed his time at Old Trafford. He frequently disappointed for United’s Under-21 side, a stage which anyone wishing to progress to the first team must dominate. He also admitted to having a poor attitude, incredibly confessing “I never took Manchester United seriously…I thought, ‘I’m here, I’m doing well and I don't have to try hard every day’”.
Last season the forward impressed back in his native land for Pacos de Ferreira and was signed by Portuguese champions Benfica. It seemed like the dream move, but Bebe failed to kick on, made just one league appearance for Jorge Jesus, and has been farmed out on loan once more.
And so now to La Liga and Cordoba. Bebe started on his debut which brought an important 1-0 victory away at Rayo Vallecano, a result that sees the Andalusian outfit’s points tally equidistant between the top half of the table and bottom place. The 24-year-old looked lively at times but fluffed a great chance in the second half to make sure of the three points for his new side.
Cordoba have recovered from the 5-0 mauling at the hands of Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the final game before the winter break, to take six points from their last two fixtures. They face each of the top three at the Estadio Nuevo Arcangel before the end of this La Liga campaign, starting with leaders Real Madrid a week on Saturday.
Bebe’s performances in these big games, in addition to what he can produce for the remainder of the season in the technically strong Spanish league, will dictate the next chapter of an already intriguing story.