Portugal's 'Light One' worth weight in gold

MAGALIESBURG - Portugal's lean striker Liedson has gone from stacking shelves in Brazil to playing for Portugal at the World Cup in a decade-long journey that has seen him rack up goals everywhere he goes.

Just over 10 years ago Liedson was playing football to relax from his supermarket job when he was discovered by a businessman who invited him to join his office team in Brazil's Bahia state.

Proving himself no lightweight when cashing in goals, the striker's rise was swift, going from small clubs to Flamengo, Corinthians and then a move to Portugal's Sporting in 2003.

Known as the "Light One" at Sporting for his lean and wiry frame, Liedson runs tirelessly, has the ability to lose markers and a deft technical touch that helps the natural goal poacher "resolve" games by scoring, as the club's fans say constantly.

Those attributes have helped him net 160 goals in seven seasons at the Portuguese club shoe fans endearingly call him 'The Light One' but know he is worth his weight in gold.

"I have to run, as I am skinny and that gives me a disadvantage in terms of physical contact, so I have to escape my marker and search for space," he told reporters on Friday.

When Portugal were struggling to score in their early World Cup qualifiers last year, coach Queiroz called up Liedson, who had just obtained Portuguese citizenship, to solve the problem.

The 32-year-old weighed in with a goal on his debut against Denmark, salvaging a 1-1 draw that proved to be vital, and then added another two to help the side produce a late surge.

He has gone quiet since, but could be seen chasing the Ivory Coast defenders in Portugal's cautious 0-0 draw on Tuesday and carving himself out a chance from nowhere.

"Goals will come naturally," Liedson said, hoping that will happen in their next match against North Korean on Monday.

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