Emerson eyes treble Corinthians close in

Marcio Passos de Albuquerque might have been yet another case of a football player who left Brazil young and ended his career unknown in his home country.

Instead the 32-year-old striker, better known as Emerson, could win the Brazilian championship on Sunday for the third time in three years with a third club.

"Imagine being champion three years running with three different clubs, I don't know if I deserve it," Emerson said.

"It would be cool," he said in a recent TV interview.

"Here I am working for it, that's really the thinking... I do want to be champion."

Emerson, who took his name after falsifying papers to appear younger than he was early in his career, paid money from his own pocket to return home in 2009 at the age of 30.

A leading goal-scorer in Japan and Qatar, where he took out Qatari citizenship to play for their national team and is known as Emerson Sheikh, he paid to break his own contract with Al Sadd to be able join his favourite team Flamengo and went on to help them win the Brazilian title.

After a brief spell in the United Arab Emirates, he returned home again to join Fluminense and proceeded to help them win the title last season, scoring the championship-clinching goal.

He joined Corinthians at the beginning of this year, played for the reserves as he tried to overcome injury problems and finally made it into the first team for the run-in.


In the closest title race since the championship was modified into a 20-team first division in 2003, Corinthians have 67 points, Vasco 65 and Fluminense 62 after 36 matches.

Corinthians have reached the penultimate weekend as the only team with a chance of winning the title with a match to spare thanks to the winner Emerson laid on for former Brazil striker Adriano in last Sunday's 2-1 victory over Atletico Mineiro.

They need to beat fifth-placed Figueirense away and hope second-placed Vasco da Gama fail to win their Rio derby against Fluminense, who are third.

Fluminense, who must win, hope their captain, Brazil striker Fred, maintains the impressive scoring form which brought him seven goals in their last two matches, four in a 5-4 win over Gremio and a hat-trick in the 4-0 rout of Figueirense last weekend.

Vasco have already won the Copa Brasil knockout competition and reached the South American second-ranked Copa Sudamericana semi-finals this year. A win on Sunday would see the championship race go to the wire the following weekend.