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Football: Mowbray keen to rely on Teixeira; COCA-COLA CHAMPIONSHIP.

Byline: By Hyder Jawad

When you can count Ronaldinho among your former team-mates, you have every reason to believe that you must have done something right. But the football world is still waiting for Felipe Teixeira.

The Portuguese player is a month away from his 27th birthday but, having only begun 87 competitive matches in a career that has so far yet to catch fire, he can only hope that his best days are still ahead of him.

He played alongside Ronaldinho with Paris Saint-Germain in France in 2002-03 but it was clear then that their careers would take different courses. Ronaldinho, a world champion with Brazil, moved on to Barcelona in 2003, Teixeira to Uniao Leiria on loan.

But now, under the tutelage of Tony Mowbray in the safe haven that is The Hawthorns, Teixeira might finally have found the right context for his uniquely Mediterranean skills.

His performance for West Bromwich Albion against Barnsley last Saturday gave every indication that he has the talent of Jason Koumas - now, alas, with Wigan Athletic - and the attitude of Neil Clement.

It is a rare combination that makes Teixeira (pronounced Tay-shay-rah) ideal material for Mowbray and, at this time of transition, ideal for Albion. It was not just Teixeira's goal that caught the eye. His all-round display, one of vision and good touch, evoked images of the slalom running that made Koumas and Diomansy Kamara so exciting for Albion last season.

Koumas and Kamara have gone, of course, but are so far not missed. As Mowbray said after the match against Barnsley: "Filipe stepped up and produced the same kind of quality that we had last season from the likes of Diomansy and Jason."

Replacing Kamara and Koumas was always going to be a problem for Mowbray, especially given the manager's propensity for artistic football. But he had identified Teixeira even before Albion lost at Wembley to Derby Countyin the Coca-Cola Championship play-off final last May.

That is why Mowbray seemed happy enough to sell Kamara to Fulham for pounds 6 million and Koumas to Wigan for pounds 5.3 million. Good players, yes, but also high-maintenance.

With Teixeira available for just pounds 600,000, why try to keep hold of those who did not even want to play for Albion? Six hundred grand - you can barely buy a London house for that now.

Teixeira has been involved in all six of Albion's matches this season and seems to appeal to Mowbray in the way that Robert Koren, currently injured but arguably Albion's talisman, appeals. One might call it reliable talent. No flawed genius here, just a player doing what he does best within loose constraints.

Teixeira was born in Paris in 1980 at a time of strife, rioting and disillusionment in the French capital. But he began his career in Portugal with Felgueiras when still a teenager. It was not a dream move - Felgueiras are the Portuguese equivalent of, say, Luton Town - but it took him to what he calls his "second country". Teixeira is actually a Portuguese town.

The return to Paris, with Saint-Germain, was a move of choice and the chance to play alongside Ronaldinho, who had just returned triumphant from the 2002 World Cup. But reality taught Teixeira a harsh lesson.

Sentiment counts for nothing. He started just 18 matches in three years and returned to Portugal, to join Academica de Coimbra, in 2005.

It was there that he found Mowbray; or, rather, Mowbray found him. Teixeira has yet to flourish but he has finally found his spiritual home. It is not in Paris or Lisbon, but in West Bromwich.

He knows that one goal against Barnsley does not make a career but it does provide encouraging auguries.

"Teixeira has yet to flourish but he has finally found his spiritual home. It is not in Paris or Lisbon, but in West Bromwich
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 4, 2007
Words:645
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