MAGALIESBURG - Midfielder Tiago's display in Portugal's 7-0 thumping of North Korea suggested he has bounced back from dark days at Juventus where he allegedly once locked the club president in a toilet.
"Very impressive performance. Every player has to give his best at finals and Tiago gave his maximum," Atletico president Enrique Cerezo, who have the player on loan, told Reuters in a telephone interview following Monday's thrashing.
"We want to sign him on a permanent deal. We are in negotiations with Juventus," he added.
After title-winning seasons at Chelsea and Lyon, a dream move to the Italian giants in 2007 turned into a nightmare for Tiago, his poor performances landing him the fans' vote for the 2008 "Golden Bin" award as Serie A's worst player.
In August 2008 Giovanni Cobolli Gigli, Juventus president at the time, told Italian television that Tiago, disgruntled with plans to loan him, had locked him in a toilet, with Alessandro Del Piero stepping in to break the door down to free his boss.
Tiago finally agreed to a loan move to Madrid in January, and he recovered his form, helping the team to a Spanish Cup win and a mid-table league finish after a bad start.
"We're talking about a good player, so of course his coming into the team was important," Cerezo said.
He also won back his place in the Portugal squad and when playmaker Deco was ruled out through injury, he was at hand to unlock the stubborn North Korean defence with a telling pass for Portugal's first and then grab two goals for himself.
The Man of the Match award went to Cristiano Ronaldo, but the skipper forwarded it to Tiago, who he said merited it more.
The 29-year-old's display on Monday showcased his elegant style of play, full of silky passes and precise shooting.
"He is a team player, has good technique and respects tactics. His strong point is his peripheral vision on the pitch. Sometimes it seems he has four eyes," Manuel Cajuda, the coach who threw Tiago into Braga's senior side aged 17, told Reuters.
"A good player is always a good player. But a good, intelligent player is better than just a good player. And Tiago is definitely an intelligent type of player," Cajuda added.comments