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Will Xavier be Abel to end Adomah's dream of glory?

Byline: Jonathon Taylor Sports writer jonathon.taylor@trinitymirror.com

Abel Xavier was a distinctive figure during his playing days with Boro. Now he has been appointed manager of Mozambique FORMER Boro defender Abel Xavier has been appointed manager of the Mozambique national team.

The 43-year-old is arguably one of Boro's most colourful characters over the last two decades.

And the ex-Portugal international has already targeted qualification for next year's 2017 African Cup of Nations.

Xavier ended an 18-year playing career back in 2008, and has since earned management experience at Portuguese top-flight club Olhanense, as well as at Spanish second tier sides Farense and C.D Aves.

Now Xavier - who is best remembered in the UK for his bleached-blonde hairstyle with a matching beard - is hoping to lead Mozambique to glory in Gabon.

"I am very proud to return to my country,' Xavier said after being unveiled as Mozambique's new boss this week. However, Boro winger Albert Adomah could stand in the way of Xavier's international dream - with Mozambique competing in the same qualification group as Ghana.

Xavier's new side are rooted at the bottom of Group H after losing both of their qualifying matches so far.

Indeed, Xavier's first qualifying game will come against Adomah's Ghana in March.

Born in Mozambique, before moving to Portugal, Xavier enjoyed a memorable career - playing for PSV Eindhoven, Everton, Liverpool and LA Galaxy, as well as two spells at Boro in 2006.

It was on Teesside where the Portugal international defender faced his biggest controversy, after failing a drugs test in 2005.

Xavier was signed in August 2005 to replace Michael Reiziger, and played in Boro's 0-0 draw at Skoda Xanthi in the UEFA Cup the following month.

After that match, the 20-cap international was tested and failed a routine drugs test.

As a result, Xavier became the first player in the English top-flight to be banned for using performance-enhancing substances when he tested positive for anabolic steroid dianabol.

Despite denying any wrongdoing, he was banned for 18 months - which was eventually reduced to 12 following an appeal from the player.

Xavier's Boro contract was terminated in January 2006, but after serving his ban, Boro handed him a contract until the end of the 2006/07 season.

Then-Boro manager Gareth Southgate said: "I'm a believer that people in life who serve a sentence should get the opportunity to rebuild their life or their career afterwards.

"He's served his ban and he wants to force his way back into the side."

Afterwards, the player admitted he was indebted to Boro for giving him another chance.

"I was in contact with Mr Gibson while I was banned. I will always be thankful for that," Xavier told The Gazette.

"My contract was broken, it was logical for the club. But I would like to thank Mr Gibson, Keith Lamb and Gareth Southgate for their sincerity in understanding my situation.

"It means a lot to me that they have never lost faith in me and have opened their doors again."

Xavier later joined MLS side LA Galaxy, before calling time on a playing career that saw him play for 12 clubs in eight different countries - Portugal, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, England, Turkey, Germany and America.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:6MOZA
Date:Jan 27, 2016
Words:538
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