Juninho Pernambucano

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Juninho Pernambucano
Juninho Pernambucano.JPG
Juninho during his time with Lyon in 2006
Personal information
Full name Antônio Augusto Ribeiro Reis Jr.
Date of birth (1975-01-30) 30 January 1975 (age 44)
Place of birth Recife, Brazil
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
1991–1992 Sport do Recife
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1993–1995 Sport do Recife 24 (2)
1995–2001 Vasco da Gama 111 (26)
2001–2009 Lyon 248 (75)
2009–2011 Al-Gharafa 40 (15)
2011–2012 Vasco da Gama 50 (11)
2013 New York Red Bulls 13 (0)
2013 Vasco da Gama 21 (2)
Total 507 (131)
National team
1999–2006 Brazil[2] 40 (6)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Antônio Augusto Ribeiro Reis Júnior (born 30 January 1975), commonly known as Juninho or Juninho Pernambucano[note 1], is a Brazilian former footballer who played as a midfielder and a current football pundit. Noted for his bending free kicks, he is widely considered to be the greatest free kick-taker of all time and holds the record for the highest number of goals scored through free kicks with 77, ahead of the likes of Pelé (70), Víctor Antonio Legrotaglie and Ronaldinho (59 each), and David Beckham (50).[3][4][5]

Juninho began his professional career in 1993 with Brazilian club Sport do Recife. Two years later he joined Vasco da Gama where he played over 100 matches and won no fewer than six titles. In 2001, he joined Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais where he played for the next eight years, winning seven consecutive league titles and scoring 100 goals in 350 official appearances for the club.[6] Following his departure from Lyon in 2009, Juninho played in Qatar with Al-Gharafa and in the US with New York Red Bulls, with the latter stint wedged between two spells back at Vasco, where he ultimately retired in 2013.

Having made his international debut in 1999, Juninho played 40 games for the Brazilian national team and scored six goals. He represented Brazil at the 2001 Copa América and was part of the squad which won the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup before retiring from international football after the 2006 World Cup.

Since 2013, Juninho has been a football commentator with Brazilian sports network Rede Globo.[7]

Club career

Early career: Sport Recife and Vasco da Gama

Born in Recife, Juninho started his career at Sport Recife and quickly established himself as a rising star in Brazilian football. After winning two regional titles with Sport, he moved to Vasco da Gama in 1995, and won several trophies with the club, including the Brazilian Championship in 1997 and 2000, the Copa Libertadores in 1998, the Copa Mercosur in 2000, as well as the 2000 Brazilian Silver Ball award as one of the best Brazilian midfielders of the season. At that time, he was playing with Romário, Edmundo, and Juninho Paulista.

King of São Januário

Before joining Lyon, Juninho played for Vasco da Gama in Brazil. While there, he won the Brazilian Championship twice (1997 and 2000) and two continental cups (the Copa Libertadores in 1998 and the Copa Mercosul in 2000), becoming a favourite of the Vasco fans.[citation needed]

Since that time he has been known as Reizinho de São Januário (The Little King of São Januário)[8] or Reizinho da Colina (The Little King of the Hill),[9] a reference to Vasco da Gama Stadium's name (São Januário) or nickname (Giant of the Hill). Although he left Vasco for Lyon after a judicial fight, he is still considered a favourite of Vasco fans.[10] Juninho has been cited in a classic chorus sung by the fans[11] remembering his free-kick goal against River Plate, at River Plate Stadium, during the 1998 Libertadores which helped the club reach the finals against Barcelona de Guayaquil. Juninho played 295 games for Vasco from 1995–2001.

Olympique Lyonnais

In 2001, Juninho moved abroad to play for French club Olympique Lyonnais. Before his arrival at Lyon, the club had never won the French Ligue 1 championship. In his first year at the club, the championship was secured, and it was subsequently won seven seasons in a row.[12]

At Lyon, Juninho made himself especially noted for his accurate, powerful and varied set pieces. Regarded as one of the world's greatest free kick takers of the present day and possibly one of the greatest of all time, he is a noted passer, having provided many assists, and his leadership abilities prompted Lyon manager Gérard Houllier to name him team captain.

On 26 May 2009, Juninho announced that he would leave Lyon at the end of the season as a free agent. Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas explained to the media that the club and Juninho agreed to cancel the last year of his contract. During the press conference, Juninho sat next to Aulas and left the press conference without saying a word.[13][14]


On 17 June 2009, Juninho signed a two-year contract with Qatari club Al-Gharafa for a fee of €2.5 million.[15] In his first season with Al-Gharafa, Juninho captained the team to their seventh league title and wins in the Qatari Stars Cup and Qatar Crown Prince Cup, completing the treble. He finished the season with Player of the Year honours from the Qatar Football Association. Juninho played 66 games for Al-Gharafa Sports Club and scored 25 goals.

Return to Vasco da Gama

On 27 April 2011, Juninho rejoined his former club Vasco da Gama. He scored his first goal for them in his first game back, via a freekick against Corinthians. He scored another 2 free kicks and a penalty during the course of the Brazilian top flight season. On 28 March 2012, he played and scored a goal for a 4–1 lead in Edmundo's farewell game against Barcelona Sporting Club. Vasco went on to win this game 9-1.[16] Juninho then scored a trademark free kick against Esporte Clube Bahia in the fourth round of the Campeonato Brasileiro; that goal was to be his 16th since returning to Vasco from Al-Gharafa Sports Club.

In July 2012, Juninho extended his contract with Vasco for 6 months. On 18 July 2012, he made his 350th appearance for the club against São Paulo FC. In August 2012 he played against his youth team Sport Club do Recife and scored a free kick goal, which was his fourth goal from free kicks in Campeonato Brasileiro Série A 2012. Juninho played in 370 official matches for Vasco scoring 88 goals.

New York Red Bulls

On 17 December 2012, Juninho signed for Major League Soccer team New York Red Bulls.[17] On 3 March 2013 Juninho made his official debut for New York starting for his new club in a 3-3 draw at Portland Timbers.[18] On 3 July 2013 NY Red Bulls announced that they reached an agreement with Juninho for the cancelation of his contract.[19]

Third stint with Vasco da Gama and retirement

On 11 July 2013, Vasco da Gama announced the return of Juninho to the club and he made his third debut for the team against rivals Fluminense on 21 July. Juninho scored and assisted in a 3–1 victory. He scored his first home goal against Criciúma with a 32-metre free kick, also assisting Edmilson dos Santos Silva for the third goal of the game. By the end of July 2013 Juninho had scored 2 goals and had made 2 assists since rejoining the club. He played his third game for Vasco da Gama against another rival team Botafogo, setting up Andre for Vasco's first goal, in a 3–2 defeat. He played his sixth game against Gremio and made another assist. It was his fourth assist in Campeonato Brasileiro. Juninho made his fifth assist against Sport Club Corinthians Paulista; the game ended in a 1–1 draw. He played his 16th game against Vasco rivals Botafogo and made two assists; the game ended with a 2–2 draw after Botafogo had led 2–0. Juninho played 16 games for Vasco in his third stint with the club, scoring 2 goals and making 7 assists in the Campeonato Brasileiro. He retired from playing professional football on 2 February 2014.[20]

International career

Juninho's Career at International Football was more unlucky, made his debut for the Brazilian national team in 1999 despite being labeled as a Rising star in the mid 90s.

On 7 September 1999, he became one of the few footballers to have played two top-level matches in two different countries in the same day.[citation needed] He represented his country in the second half of the friendly match between Brazil and Argentina in Porto Alegre, which Brazil won 4–2, playing about fifteen minutes. In spite of a delayed flight to Montevideo, he still arrived in Uruguay in time to feature in the second half of the Copa Mercosur match between Vasco and Nacional.

Although Juninho had a period of prolonged domestic success and even be considered as one of the best Brazilian Players, he was not selected in the Brazil squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup & 2004 Copa América where Brazil won the Titles.

In the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Juninho scored against Japan in a group stage match. Following Brazil's defeat in the quarter-finals of the tournament, he announced his international retirement, as to make way for younger talents coming through the ranks in Brazil to build for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Style of play

Juninho lining up to take a free kick with Lyon.

Juninho has been described as "one of the world's most feared strikers of a static ball".[21] As of 17 May 2009, Juninho has scored 44 goals from direct free kicks for Olympique Lyonnais,[22] his last for the club being a strike from long distance against Olympique de Marseille. With his free kick in Champions League against FC Barcelona, he rewrote Olympique Lyonnais' record books as their highest ever European goal scorer with 17 goals.[23] The method he uses for long-range free kicks is frequently "knuckle balling", where the ball has almost no spinning motion during flight. A successful knuckle ball will "move" or "wobble" in the air unpredictably, making it difficult for the goalkeeper to save.[24] He first made his name as a free kick taker in Europe with a long range free kick against Bayern Munich in the 2003–04 Champions League group stage in which the ball dipped viciously at the end of travel that deceived Bayern keeper Oliver Kahn, who was considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the time.

On 23 May, the day of his very last game for Lyon, Juninho reached the 100 goal landmark total overall tally for Lyon through a penalty kick against Caen. He has scored from free-kicks beyond 40 metres on four occasions: a 41-metre effort against AC Ajaccio in 2006, a 45-metre goal against Barcelona in 2007, a 48-metre goal against OGC Nice in 2008, and a 40-metre strike against Marseille in 2009, this being his final free kick goal for Lyon. Even before Lyon, he displayed his talent at Vasco da Gama, scoring several free kick goals for the club. Juninho has also scored memorable free kick goals for Brazil, the most famous being a curling shot from 27 metres against Greece in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup. Brazil would go on to win the match 3–0. Also, Juninho scored two memorable free kicks against Nice in the 2008–09 season as Lyon were losing 2–0. Juninho rapidly pulled back his team by scoring one free kick that bounced past the goalkeeper and in the top corner and one from 48 yards away. Lyon went on to win that game as well with a converted penalty by Karim Benzema. Juninho's style of freekick taking has been adapted by several other players, such as Andrea Pirlo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, and Gareth Bale.[25][26] The knuckle ball free kick technique takes a significant amount of skill to replicate and strike accurately. In total, Juninho scored 77 official goals from direct free kicks throughout his professional football career, which spanned from 1993 to 2013.[27]

A talented and diminutive right-footed midfielder, beyond his qualities as a set-piece specialist, Juninho was also known for his skill as an offensive playmaker, and for his ability to produce effective passes, which led him to getting assists on many of his teammates' goals throughout his career.[28] He was also gifted with good technical ability and intelligence, as well as excellent vision and passing range, and powerful and accurate striking ability from distance; furthermore, he drew praise in the media for his tenacity, work-rate, composure under pressure, strong character, and leadership, which saw him serve as club captain both at Lyon and Al-Gharafa.[29][30] A versatile player, although he usually played as an attacking midfielder, he was also capable of playing as a winger or as a central midfielder.[31]



Sport do Recife[32]
Vasco da Gama[33]






  1. ^ His nickname comes from a combination of the Brazilian diminutive "Juninho", which is commonly applied to any person with the name "Junior", and "Pernambucano", meaning someone born in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco. He is often referred to as "Pernambucano" in southern France.


  1. ^ "Juninho" (in Portuguese). CR Vasco da Gama. Archived from the original on 26 November 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  2. ^ "Brazil – Record International Players". Rsssf.com. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  3. ^ 10 Leading Free-Kick Scorers In History, CR7 Ahead Of Messi www.soccerladuma.co.za
  4. ^ Adam Axon (27 January 2009). "Top Ten Free Kick Specialists Of All Time". soccerlens.com. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  5. ^ Philippe Rodier (23 July 2015). "Qui Est le Meilleur Tireur de Coups=Francs de L'histoire?". onzemondial.com. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  6. ^ R.B. "Juninho... ses chiffres lyonnais – Article – Accueil". Olweb.Fr. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  7. ^ "Comentarista da Globo, Juninho Pernambucano "corneta" prêmio da ESPN".
  8. ^ ">". Juninhopaulista.com. Retrieved 7 July 2010. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "GloboEsporte.com na Copa do Mundo 2006 – Exclusivo: todos os jogos em vídeo ao vivo – ARTICLE IMPRIMIR – FERAS DO PARREIRA: Raio-X de Juninho Pernambucano". Globoesporte.globo.com. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  10. ^ "Juninho quer homenagear o Vasco". [www.globoesporte.com GloboEsporte.com].
  11. ^ "Juninho Pernambucano agradece homenagem em música da torcida". [www.supervasco.com SuperVasco.com]. [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "From Ligue 1 to superstardom: Juninho Pernambucano". Goal. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Juninho bids emotional goodbye to Lyon". Uefa.com. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  14. ^ "Legend Juninho leaving Lyon". Fifa.com. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  15. ^ "Soccer-Brazil's Juninho joins Qatari champions Al Gharafa". Reuters. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
  16. ^ "TUA IMENSA TORCIDA É BEM FELIZ! JUNINHO VOLTOU!". Archived from the original on 10 March 2012.
  17. ^ "Red Bulls Sign Brazilian Star Midfielder Juninho". newyorkredbulls.com. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  18. ^ "Portland Timbers 3 New York Red Bulls 3". mlssoccer.com. 3 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Red Bulls Reach Mutual Agreement to Cancel Contract for Midfielder Juninho". newyorkredbulls.com. 3 July 2013.
  20. ^ "Juninho chora no adeus e diz que já estuda convite da Globo para Copa – Futebol". UOL Esporte.
  21. ^ "Who is the free-kick master?". FIFA. 30 October 2007. Archived from the original on 18 April 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  22. ^ "Accueil". Olweb.Fr. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  23. ^ "Accueil". Olweb.Fr. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  24. ^ "Who is the free-kick master?". [www.fifa.com FIFA.com]. Archived from the original on 15 December 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
  25. ^ "Mestre de Pirlo, Juninho Pernambucano ensinou italiano a bater falta - Notícias - UOL Copa do Mundo 2014" (in Portuguese). copadomundo.uol.com.br. 11 June 2014.
  26. ^ Pedro P. San Martín (14 September 2013). "Set-piece dilemma: CR7 Tomahawk vs Bale Knuckleball". as.com. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  27. ^ Muhammad Butt (12 September 2018). "10 players that have somehow scored more free-kicks than Lionel Messi… so far". www.squawka.com. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  28. ^ {http://www.footballteamplayers.com/juninho-pernambucano-biography.html}[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "THE GOAL.COM 50: JUNINHO PERNAMBUCANO (47)". Goal.com. 22 December 2008.
  30. ^ "Juninho: I've made history at two clubs". FIFA.com. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  31. ^ Alberto Coghi (1 February 2014). "Juninho Pernambucano, il "maestro" di Pirlo" (in Italian). Il Giornale. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  32. ^ a b "Juninho: a cool head and a hot shot". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  33. ^ a b c d "Juninho Pernambucano – PRIZE LIST". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  34. ^ "Bola de Prata Placar 2000". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  35. ^ a b "Red Bulls sign Juninho". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  36. ^ "NY Red Bulls sign Juninho Pernambucano, former Brazilian international and free kick specialist". Retrieved 18 January 2018.

External links

  • Juninho Pernambucano on Facebook
  • Juninho Pernambucano at L'Équipe Football (in French)
  • Juninho Pernambucano – French league stats at LFP
  • vasco.com.br
  • Juninho Pernambucano at Major League Soccer
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