When I started this feature over a year ago I was hoping to find out what became of some of the lesser-known players that have pulled on the Rovers shirt. I’ve diversified a little over the months as opportunities arose, but finally it’s time to find out what happened to one of my original targets.
- This article was first published in August 2006 (By Richard Ault)
So, whatever did happen to Portuguese midfielder Mauro?
For those that don’t remember, Mauro arrived at Prenton Park from Portuguese side Casa Pia Atletico Clube in the summer of 1997. It was around the same time that German Dirk Hebel signed for the club.
Mauro, or Ricardo Mauro Pereira to use his full name, was predominantly a midfielder. Like Hebel, much was expected of him when he signed a two year deal at the club despite having his initial trial cut short by injury.
MauroThe 21-year-old impressed early in the 1997/98 season playing in the reserves but his progress would become severely hampered by injury. Several comebacks were all too brief and even on loan Celtic flop Marc Anthony was starting to manage more reserve team appearances.
At the end of the season Mauro had failed to make a first team appearance for Rovers and his contract was terminated to allow him to return to Portugal for treatment on a knee injury.
His immediate port of call was back at Casa Pia Atletico Clube whom it is believed helped him regain fitness and get playing again. After no fewer than seven attempts, I finally managed to get correspondence from Casa Pia as I tried to find out if Mauro was still in the game now, some eight years after leaving Prenton Park.
It turns out he is, and he’s not doing too bad either. Although details from 1999 until 2002 are sketchy to non-existent, he turned up in the lower reaches of Portuguese football in the 2003/04 season at a club called Mafra who play in the third division of the Portuguese league set up.
Before continuing it is probably helpful at this point to explain how the Porguese League structure works. The top flight is known as the SuperLiga and is home to the likes of FC Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica. Then comes the Liga de Honra (League of Honour) which is the equivalent of the Championship in England.
After that comes II Divisao which is, for all intents and purposes, the Third Division. This is split into regional leagues which were renamed to Serie A, B, C and D for the 2005/06 season. Winners of Serie A play the winners of Serie C and Serie B winners meet Serie D in play-offs to decide who goes up.
Still with it? Hope so, as it gets a bit worse. Next down is III Divisao, the Fourth Division. Again it is split into regional leagues but this time theres seven of them going from Serie A through to Serie E. Luckily we don’t need to venture any further down for this article!
His performances for Mafra were impressive enough to earn him a move to one of the most historic clubs in Portugal, FC Barreirense, which also meant a step up a league. Barreirense had once spent time in the top flight before sliding away to their place in the Second Division and were hotly tipped to challenge for the title.
Sure enough, Mauro’s arrival coincided with a great season for the club and they were promoted back to the second tier of the league system, the “Liga de Honra”.
Mauro had been used sparingly for the majority of the season though and didn’t stick around once the campaign ended. He opted to move back home to Lisbon to play for Atletico Clube de Portugal once again in the Third Division, Serie E this time.
Mauro, third from leftStill only 29, he found himself right back in the thick of things as he played a significant part in the clubs 05/06 campaign. The season ended with Atletico topping their league and ultimately earning promotion to the second division. So, back-to-back promotions for Mauro.
As of yet there is no news on whether he will stay with Atletico Clube next season. We will keep you up-to-date with any news on where Mauro heads next. Meanwhile, if anyone has any information about where he played between 1998 and 2003 please get in touch at the usual address.