Forgotten Footballers: Brazil’s Elano Blumer

“I was born to play at big clubs.” A Brazilian born and bred midfielder, Elano has never really been one to shy away from showcasing his talents.

“I was born to play at big clubs.” A Brazilian born and bred midfielder, Elano has never really been one to shy away from showcasing his talents. Then again, as they say, if you have it, flaunt it. A saying Elano adopted and employed in his game, as not only does he possess the ability to create many goals, as he will naturally demonstrate, he can score just as many too.

Wherever he is playing, whatever he is doing, Elano is simply an attacking threat.

Name: Elano Blumer

Age: 32

Position: Midfielder/Winger

Clubs: Guarani, Internacional, Santos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Galatasaray, Grêmio, Flamengo

Country: Brazil

He has the confidence to try some of the most unorthodox of shots from distance, but low and behold, nine times out of ten they fly into the back of the net. His distance shooting, before you ask, does mean he is something of a set-piece specialist, free-kicks, penalties you name it even corners, he rarely misses the chance to make the fans cheer.

However, Elano isn’t the traditional Brazilian player, you will not see the fancy flicks and tricks in his offensive play but rather the art of passing, shooting, and playmaking to unlock defences.

Hot and cold

Elano started out playing football in the state of SãoPaulo, Brazil, with local sides Guarani and then Internacional before joining Santos, the former club of Brazilian legend Pele. Here he played alongside the likes of Robinho, Diego and Alex, to soon gain a reputation as a talented goal scoring midfielder, a rare breed.

Elano played an integral part at Santos, his many assists as well as goals helped them win the Campeonato Brasileiro Seria A (league title) in 2002 and then again in 2004. During four years in Brazil, Elano scored 34 goals in over 120 games before swapping climates and earning a transfer to Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Brazilian’s creativity was simply too hot to handle here and it inspired Shakhtar to win the Ukranian Premier League in back-to-back seasons (2004/05 – 2005/06) to qualify for European Cup football.

He also scored against Dynamo Kyiv, as his side later won 4-3 on penalties to then lift the Ukrainian Super Cup in 2005. With exceptional performances week in week out, Elano went on to establish himself as a key player for not only club but also country.

He was in fact the first player from the Ukranian Premier League to represent the Brazilian national team when he was called up to play against Norway in August, 2006. In the 2006/07 season, Shakhtar finished runners-up in the league, losing out to rivals Dynamo Kyiv, claiming back the bragging rights.

During three years in Ukraine, Elano scored over 20 goals in over 70 games before his name was on every list of every Manchester scout in England, as one not to watch but buy, buy, buy. 

Fun while it lasted

In the summer of 2007, Elano was snapped up by Manchester City for £8 million, the Brazilian signed a four-year contract and looked the perfect fit for the new blue revolution under then manager Sven-Göran Eriksson.

It didn’t take Elano long to light up the opening weekend of the 2007/08 Premier League season, 20 minutes into his debut against West Ham United, he provided a delightful low cross for Rolando Bianchi to slide into the back of the net. In September, the midfielder scored his first goal for City in a 3-1 win over Newcastle United, a mesmerising free-kick, to which cemented his role in the team.

See for yourself his set-piece technique as good as any: 


He scored his first brace in October in Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough, the first a 25 yard rocket from open play the other a curling free-kick from just outside the penalty area. Throughout his first season, as City’s set penalty taker, Elano gained a 100 per cent conversion rate with a goal from the spot. Some of his most notable placed penalties came in big wins against Bolton, Sunderland and Bolton, in cup competitions that year.   

As City finished ninth in the league, Elano scored a respectable eight goals with nine assists in 34 games. He completed well over 900 passes, and his contribution to the team gained 48 points for the club.

The Brazilian capped off a super start in England, instantly making an impact with several sterling performances in the middle of the park, he was certainly one of the best signings of the summer. These facts and figures raised huge expectations of Elano Blumer the following season and his future at Manchester City for the forthcoming years.

In the 2008/09 season, Mark Hughes had taken over the reins at The Etihad with the board hoping he could take the side to the next level, on to bigger and better things in the chase for European Cup football. However, with the return of Shaun Wright-Philips and the high-profile transfer of fellow Brazilian Robinho to the club, there were concerns whether Elano would maintain his dominant midfield position.

During Robinho’s first match, a 3-1 defeat against Chelsea, Elano was an unused substitute, the very position he made his own was now taken, even worse by his Brazilian compatriot. When he did play, he had to adapt to different positions, not only in midfield but even in defence too, preventing him doing what he does best, mostly playmaking.

Elano’s season consisted of mixed performances off the bench, there was the odd wonder goal and placed penalty but not playing or playing out of position made his future clear. 

Elano scored six goals, with four assists in 28 games for City, as they finished tenth in the league. Despite playing problems, he still managed to complete well over 800 passes, and generate 40 points for the club. However, this was to be the Brazilians second and final year in England.

It was reported, the midfielder had fallen out with new boss Mark Hughes, hence the playing problems, so a transfer away seemed the best case scenario. Overall, Elano scored 18 goals in 80 games for Manchester City.

Fan Favourite

In the summer of 2009, Elano signed a four-year contract with Turkish side Galatasaray. He was that loved before he had even kicked a ball he was reportedly greeted at the airport by over 1,000 fans. Elano donned the number 9 shirt, which previously belonged to star striker Hakan Şükür, who had scored over 100 goals for Galatasaray, these were big boots to fill.

Though, he never really gave himself enough time to fill these boots. He made his debut in August, in a Europa League play-off against Levadia Tallinn, coming on as a second-half substitute, needless to say the home crowd went absolutely ballistic as they watched their side go on to win 5-0.

Elano weeks later then went on to score his first goal for Galatasaray on his home league debut against Kayserispor, firing a left-foot screamer from nearly 30 yards. However, his contract was cut short, and after just two years in Turkey left feeling a little homesick, he scored eight goals in over 40 appearances.

Back to Brazil and beyond

In 2011, Elano opted to rejoin former Brazilian side Santos and continued to display the fine form that brought him fame in the first place. He helped the team win the Campeonato Paulista Serie A1 (league knockout) in back-to-back seasons (2011 and 2012) with the club as well as the Copa Libertadores (tournament) in 2011.

In addition, Elano cemented his place in the team of the year alongside the likes of Neymar, Liédsonand Lucas with his ball delivery skills. He was then voted the best Campeonato Paulista’s midfielder and the Campeonato Paulista’s top scorer with 11 goals (joint with then Corinthians striker Liédson).

During a further two years with Santos, Elano scored over 15 goals in over 70 appearances before his contract was bought out by fellow Brazilian side Gremio in the summer of 2012. He switched clubs and signed a three-year contract as part of a swap deal with striker Ezequiel Miralles.

In his first season, he scored eight goals in 30 games, though in his second season Elano only played in cup competitions scoring three goals in eight games. He was then eventually loaned out to another Brazilian side, Flamengo, in which since 2014, currently plies his trade.  

Elano is in fact still remembered fondly by City fans, they haven’t had many exceptional Brazilian players in their time, if you remember the likes of Jo, Geovanni and even Robinho. He was applauded for his lack of ‘Brazilian-ness,’ surprisingly, not showboating for the crowd but playing his game, the English game with Brazilian flair to make things happen.

However, whether he will come back to England, is anyone’s guess, now 32 years of age, I’d think not especially considering the reasons he left or may have left Manchester, unfortunately.

He seems determined to play more games for the Brazilian national side, with over 40 caps lifting the 2007 Copa America and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, he must be thirsty for more.

In this case, you can almost guarantee he will end playing where he first started, in Brazil, in the hope he gets a call up from Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, sooner rather than later.

Though, even if his dreams don’t come true, he is more than loved in England, especially the blue half of Manchester, his name beams smiles across fans faces, they will always remember the name, Elano.  

What do you think of Elano’s career? Have your say in the comments section below.

Image: Zimbio