1899 Hoffenheim?s rise to the top of German football has been fast and spectacular. In just eight years the club has risen from the depths of the fifth tier of the German football pyramid, to the upper echelons of the Bundesliga. A major factor in their unexpected success has been the exciting, attack orientated style of play that has made them so popular with the media and football purists in general. There is no player that typifies their now trademark style more than the club?s pint-sized playmaker, Carlos Eduardo. Possessing typical Brazilian flair, a low centre of gravity and abundance of skill, the diminutive attacking-midfielder has become recognised as one of the Bundesliga?s star performers – and could well now be making similar waves at the 2010 World Cup with Brazil.
Eduardo?s debut for the Brazilian national team in the November friendly against England in Doha was the culmination of a quick ascent to the top of his own. Entering his third season with the tiny village outfit has seen Eduardo become unrecognisable from the player who joined the club back in August 2007. Back then, Carlos was a shy, starry eyed twenty-year-old who perhaps looked a little daunted by the prospect of life in Europe following a breakthrough year in his native Brazil with Gremio. Now, just two-and-a-half years on, the attack minded midfielder is a confident new member of Dunga?s latest set of Brazilian prodigies, and his excellent form could easily secure him a place in the former world champion?s starting line up next summer.
Eduardo?s ability really came to prominence during Gremio?s run to the 2007 Copa Libertadores final. Although his talents had already been noticed by Real Madrid two years earlier, it was during that season?s competition (South America?s answer to the Champions League) that Eduardo really began to show evidence of his neat foot work and advanced passing ability. Madrid passed up the opportunity to sign him, on the assumption he would probably struggle to make an impact in La Liga, but an ambitious Hoffenheim were not so easily perturbed. They parted with over £5m to secure the youngster?s signature in a move that baffled the Brazilian media, who had touted Carlos for big things – much bigger than a small second tier German side.
The selling point for Eduardo was a simple case of ambition. Funded by software mogul Dietmar Hopp, Hoffenheim had secured a 2.Bundesliga place years ahead of schedule and were looking to take the final step to the Bundesliga by catching their opponents by surprise. Signing a multitude of talented (yet relatively unknown) foreigners seemed the perfect rouse and Eduardo, along with the likes of Demba Ba and Chinedu Obassi, was convinced the club was going places. The plan worked, and the league?s new boys upset the odds by securing an unlikely promotion. The youngster played a starring role, adjusting to the more physical German game quickly, and was fast becoming the scourge of opposition defences. In the Bundesliga, Eduardo continued to play an important part in Hoffenheim?s now famous run to the top of the league in winter ?08 but, come 2009, Eduardo was showing another side of his game.
Like most young talents, Eduardo suffers from a slight lack of discipline when things aren?t going quite right. Following the winter break, defences got wise to Eduardo?s threat and soon tightened the leash on him. When 1899 were playing well the Brazilian was usually at the heart of it, but when frustrated Eduardo would be the first to throwhis hands up and wander the pitch like a lost child. His temperament can still sometimes be a problem (he?s no stranger to a petulant red card) but his versatility and undoubted talent far outweigh any negatives in his game. Clearly the rest of Europe agree, as Eduardo?s name regularly appears in the daily gossip columns linking him with moves to some of the continents elite. World Cup or no World Cup, it seems Carlos? talents will soon see him become a huge star not just for club, whoever that may end up being, but for country too.
Full Name – Carlos Eduardo Marques
Club – Hoffenheim
Age – 22 (July 18, 1897)
Nationality (Caps/goals) – Brazilian (1/0)
Previous Clubs – Gremio
Position – Attacking-Midfield/Left