Abel Xavier


Abel Luís da Silva Costa Xavier (; born 30 November 1972) is a Portuguese former professional Association football, footballer who played as a full-back (association football), full back, and is a manager. Xavier played for clubs in Portugal, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, England, Turkey and Germany before retiring with the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2008. He represented both Merseyside derby, Merseyside rivals Everton F.C., Everton and Liverpool F.C., Liverpool in the Premier League. From his debut in 1993, Xavier played 20 games for the Portugal national football team, Portugal national team, and was selected in their squads for UEFA Euro 2000 and 2002 FIFA World Cup. He later became a manager for several Portuguese clubs and the Mozambique national football team, Mozambique national team.

Club career

Early career

Xavier debuted in the Primeira Liga, Portuguese top division with C.F. Estrela da Amadora, Estrela da Amadora. His play there earned him a transfer to Lisbon club S.L. Benfica, Benfica. He helped Benfica win the Portuguese league in 1994, and a season after, he moved to Serie A side A.S. Bari, Bari. This stint with the Italian club started a series of transfers across Europe: in 1996, Xavier was sent to Real Oviedo, then after two seasons he moved to PSV Eindhoven, PSV.

Everton and Liverpool

Xavier joined English Premier League club Everton F.C., Everton in September 1999 on a £1.5 million transfer deal. He was sold to Everton's Merseyside rivals Liverpool F.C., Liverpool on 30 January 2002 for £800,000. He was signed to bolster Liverpool's defence following Markus Babbel's absence through illness. Xavier scored on his Liverpool debut against Ipswich Town F.C., Ipswich Town. He also scored against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League. Liverpool ended the 2001–02 FA Premier League season as runners-up to Arsenal F.C., Arsenal. Xavier started the first four league games of the 2002–03 FA Premier League season but later argued with Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier and did not feature in any of the remaining games, though he did play in a League Cup tie against Ipswich in December. On 29 January 2003, he was loaned to Turkish side Galatasaray S.K. (football), Galatasaray for the remainder of the season, with an option of a permanent move in the summer. Galatasaray did not take up the option to sign Xavier, who subsequently played for Hannover 96 (2003–04) and A.S. Roma, Roma in 2004–05.


At the start of the 2005–06 season, Xavier was without a club but at the end of August, he signed for Middlesbrough F.C., Middlesbrough to replace Michael Reiziger after the Dutchman was sold to PSV. Following the UEFA Europa League, UEFA Cup tie against Xanthi F.C., Skoda Xanthi on 29 September, Xavier was administered a drugs test and failed. On 23 November 2005, he was found guilty of using the anabolic steroid methandrostenolone (also known as dianabol), and banned from professional football for 18 months. He said that the substance came from anti-virus medicine that he had imported from the United States. While other players had failed tests for recreational substances, Xavier became the first Premier League player to be found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs. The suspension caused him to miss Middlesbrough's run to the 2006 UEFA Cup Final, 2006 UEFA Cup final. Xavier remained employed by the club and unsuccessfully appealed the decision; in January 2006 he said that he would take UEFA to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Xavier's ban was shortened to 12 months in June 2006, making him eligible to play again from November 2006. In the summer of 2006, he began training again with Middlesbrough, and on 8 November 2006, was offered a contract with the club for the remainder of the 2006–07 Middlesbrough F.C. season, 2006–07 season. He scored his first Boro goal on 20 January 2007 in a 5–1 win against Bolton Wanderers F.C., Bolton Wanderers at the Riverside Stadium.

LA Galaxy

On 14 May 2007, it was announced that Xavier was to join the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS). He played in his first game with the Galaxy on 17 June 2007 at home against Real Salt Lake, setting up fellow new signing Edson Buddle in a 3–2 win. Xavier was waived by Los Angeles on 18 July 2008. Later, in an interview to an online football site, Xavier criticised Galaxy manager Ruud Gullit and the league itself. In December 2009, Xavier quit professional football.

International career

Xavier was a part of the Portugal squad which came third at the 1989 FIFA U-16 World Championship in Scotland. Xavier's full international debut for Portugal national football team, senior team came on 31 March 1993, away in Switzerland national football team, Switzerland in qualification for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He played three more matches in the unsuccessful qualification campaign that year and did not play for Portugal again until 1998 FIFA World Cup, 1998. Xavier was selected for UEFA Euro 2000 and became one of the key figures in the competition, not only due to playing some of his best football but also due to a distinctly bleached-blonde hairstyle with a matching beard. In the semi-final against France national football team, France, he went from close to hero, as France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez blocked what looked a sure goal, to a villain, when he deflected a shot by Sylvain Wiltord near the post in the dying seconds of golden goal extra time with his hand. Zinedine Zidane scored the penalty and put France in the UEFA Euro 2000 Final, final. Xavier was initially given a nine-month ban from football for his vociferous protests against referee Günter Benkö's decision to award the penalty, but it was eventually reduced to six months. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, 2002 World Cup, he was part of the squad but played only as a substitute in the final group stage match against South Korea national football team, South Korea in his final of 20 international appearances.

Managerial career

In July 2013, Xavier signed to be manager of Portuguese top division club S.C. Olhanense, Olhanense for the upcoming 2013–14 Primeira Liga season. He was sacked by the club on 28 October 2013, despite beating F.C. Arouca, Arouca in his last match to reach 11th in the table. In December 2014, Xavier signed for another team from the Algarve, S.C. Farense, Farense of the LigaPro, Segunda Liga. He left his position on 28 May, after 2014–15 Segunda Liga, leading his team to the 11th position. In July 2015, Xavier signed a one-year deal with another team in the second division, C.D. Aves, Desportivo das Aves. He was fired in early September after a series of poor results. On 26 January 2016, he signed a two-year contract as coach of the Mozambique national football team, Mozambique national team, starting work on 1 February. In December 2017, with his contract due to expire, he had it extended until the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. After conceding an added-time goal to Guinea national football team, Guinea, the Black Mambas missed out on the tournament in Egypt but he was assured of a new deal by the Mozambican Football Federation; this offer was rescinded after a poor performance at the 2019 COSAFA Cup in South Africa.

Personal life

Xavier was born in Mozambique, which was then Portuguese Mozambique, a Portuguese colony, and moved to Portugal as a child. He settled in Jamor in the western suburbs of Lisbon, where he lived in poverty. He grew up in a strict Catholic Church, Catholic background. On retiring from his playing career, Xavier converted to Islam and changed his first name to Faisal. From 2011 to 2014, Xavier was in a relationship with actress Oceana Basílio. In February 2017, with debts of €1.5 million, bankruptcy proceedings were initiated against him.

Career statistics



International goals




;Estrela da Amadora *Segunda Liga: 1992–93 Segunda Divisão de Honra, 1992–93 ;Benfica *Primeira Liga: 1993–94 Primeira Divisão, 1993–94 *Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira: Runner-up 1994 Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira, 1994 ;PSV *Johan Cruijff Shield: 1998–99 ;Liverpool *FA Community Shield: Runner-up 2002 FA Community Shield, 2002


;Portugal Youth *UEFA European Under-17 Championship, UEFA European Under-16 Championship: 1989 UEFA European Under-16 Championship, 1989 *FIFA U-17 World Cup, FIFA U-16 World Cup: Third-place 1989 FIFA U-16 World Championship, 1989 *UEFA Under-18 Championship: Runner-up 1990 UEFA European Under-18 Championship, 1990 *FIFA U-20 World Cup: 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship, 1991

See also

* List of doping cases in sport


External links

Abel Xavier career profile
* {{DEFAULTSORT:Xavier, Abel 1972 births Living people People from Nampula Province Portuguese footballers Mozambican footballers Portugal international footballers Portuguese people of Mozambican descent Association football fullbacks C.F. Estrela da Amadora players S.L. Benfica footballers S.S.C. Bari players La Liga players Real Oviedo players PSV Eindhoven players Everton F.C. players Liverpool F.C. players Galatasaray S.K. footballers Hannover 96 players Serie A players A.S. Roma players Middlesbrough F.C. players LA Galaxy players Premier League players UEFA Euro 2000 players 2002 FIFA World Cup players Expatriate footballers in Italy Expatriate footballers in Germany Expatriate footballers in England Expatriate footballers in Turkey Expatriate footballers in the Netherlands Expatriate footballers in Spain Expatriate soccer players in the United States Mozambican emigrants to Portugal Portuguese sportspeople in doping cases Doping cases in association football Bundesliga players Portuguese expatriate footballers Primeira Liga players Eredivisie players Süper Lig players Major League Soccer players Portuguese Muslims Converts to Islam from Roman Catholicism Former Roman Catholics Portuguese expatriate sportspeople in England Portuguese expatriate sportspeople in the United States Portuguese expatriate sportspeople in Italy Portuguese expatriate sportspeople in Germany Portuguese expatriate sportspeople in Turkey Portuguese expatriate sportspeople in the Netherlands Portuguese expatriate sportspeople in Spain Portuguese football managers S.C. Olhanense managers S.C. Farense managers C.D. Aves managers Primeira Liga managers Liga Portugal 2 managers Mozambique national football team managers