Bruno Ribeiro: Memories of a midfielder with bulldog spirit

He was a midfielder who boasted as much English bulldog spirit as Portuguese flair.

By Andrew Hutchinson
Sunday, 6th February 2022, 4:30 pm
Bruno Ribeiro celebrates scoring against Portsmouth during the FA Cup fourth round clash at Elland Road in January 1999. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Bruno Ribeiro celebrates scoring against Portsmouth during the FA Cup fourth round clash at Elland Road in January 1999. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Left-footed Bruno Ribeiro was initially spotted by manager George Graham, who had been scouting striker Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink.

He joined Leeds United from his hometown club Vitória Setúbal for a fee of £500,000 in July 1997 making him a teammate of 'Jimmy' who also joined the club that summer.

Ribeiro scored his first goal for Leeds in just his second appearance for the Whites. He latched on to a Gary Kelly cross to fire home as part of a 3-1 Premier League victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in August 1997.

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Bruno Riberio pictured at Elland Road after signing for Leeds United. PIC: Mike Cowling

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He went on to score a total of four goals in 35 league games during the 1997/98 season.

Stand out goals included a strike against Newcastle United as part of a 4-1 win in October 1997 which left fans purring over his performance

"Outstanding, absolutely outstanding. When did Leeds last have such a brave hard tackling midfielder, who can shoot from anywhere, score, and land the ball on a sixpence over any range of passing? Johnny Giles that's when," wrote one blogger.

Fans will also remember a wonder strike against Bristol City during the Coca Cola Cup second round first leg clash at Elland Road and an FA Cup goal at Fratton Park.

He picked up an injury at the start of the 1998/99 campaign and failed to win back his first team place under new manager David O'Leary. He left Elland Road in October 1999 after being sold to Sheffield United for £500,000. He would go on to make 25 league appearances during his time with the Blades before returning to play in Portugal.

After retirement he has gone on to carve out a career as a football manager taking charge 14 times. He is currently manager at Moura in the Campeonato de Portugal.

Your Yorkshire Evening Post asked the Elland Road faithful top share memories of a player who was capped five times by his native Portugal at U-21 level.

Responses included:

James Mcguigan - " Underrated. Should've kept him. O'Leary got rid of some players who would've been great squad players and might have won us a trophy. Players like Bruno Ribeiro, Alfie Haaland, Robert Molenaar, David Hopkin. All George Graham signings but would've been great backup players and maybe the young guns wouldn't have burnt out so quickly."

Pjsdiscoking74! (@pjsdiscoking74) - "Always remember a 0-0 draw at Chelsea in 97. Haaland and Kelly we're both sent off and we drew 0-0. The worst tackle of the game was Ribeiro hitting Le Saux at virtually chest height and he didn't even get a yellow."

Paul A Waite - "Looked more like an English bulldog player, rather than a Portuguese flair player. Loved Bruno."

Steve Carter - "Smashing a shot against the post. Roma away in UEFA Cup."

Andrew J Moss - "Shame about his injury. Was looking to be a good find."

Danny Sullivan - " I once went to a reserve game when I was a kid. He was sat in the stands with some women (possibly his agent) me and my friend went and asked for his autograph and the woman shouted at us to go away. Very harsh."

Matthew Lettin - "Portsmouth away in FA Cup. Volley, big deflection. Loved Bruno."

James Dielhenn (@JamesDielhenn) - "A red card at the Olimpico against Roma!"

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