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Fernando Manuel Silva Couto, OIH ( or ; born 2 August 1969) is a former Portuguesemarker professional football player. Couto has played in a number of top clubs in Portugalmarker, Spainmarker, and Italymarker and he has won the national league title of each country, as well as the European UEFA Cup and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup trophies.

At the international level, he represented the Portugal national football team in 110 matches, and took part in the 2002 FIFA World Cup as well as three European Championship tournaments. During his last matches with the Portuguese national team, at UEFA Euro 2004 in Portugal, he was selected as team captain.

Club career

Born in Espinho near Portomarker, Couto began his career with FC Porto. Following a few seasons at lower league clubs Familicão and Académica Coimbramarker, he returned to Porto in 1990 with great success. In the following four seasons, he won three Portuguese SuperLiga titles with the club, before switching to the Italian Serie A, joining Parma AC in 1994. In his first season at Parma, the club enjoyed a run to the 1995 UEFA Cup final, where they narrowly defeated Juventus 2-1 on aggregate.

He joined Spanish club FC Barcelona in 1996, where his teammate Luís Figo was also enjoying a purple patch. With Barcelona, he won two Spanish Cups and his first UEFA Cup Winners' Cup medal, after a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the May 1997 final at Rotterdammarker. The following year, Barça won the The Double of domestic league and cup titles. Couto left the club on a high, and joined Romanmarker club SS Lazio in July 1998.

His first title with the club was another UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph in the 1998-99 season, with a victory over RCD Mallorca in the final at Villa Parkmarker in Birminghammarker. With Swedishmarker coach Sven-Göran Eriksson, Lazio won the title on the last day of their 1999-00 centennial season.

In 2001, he failed a doping test showing positive for the steroid nandrolone. Couto denied having taken forbidden substances, but his "B" test confirmed the finding and he eventually served four months out of a nine-month worldwide ban for the offence.

In 2005, Couto returned to Parma after ten years away, with SS Lazio unable to match his wage demands for a contract renewal.

In the 2005-06 season, Couto made 23 appearances in Serie A with Parma.

In the 2006-07 season, he was injured at the season's start, but still made 23 appearances and score a goal.

The following season proved to be disastrous for Parma as they are relegated to Serie B and Couto (17 appearances and no goal) was out of his contract at the end of season. He played his last match on the final day of the Serie A season on the 18 May 2008 at the age of 39, then retired from football.

International career

Following Portugal's win at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship for under-20 players, Couto and the other Portuguese winners were announced as the "Golden Generation" of Portuguese football. However, at the senior level, Couto and the Portuguese national team failed to qualify for both the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup finals and the team surprised pundits and fans alike with a dire display at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, despite a multi-talented side.

The European Championships was a happier hunting ground for Couto and Portugal, with a run to the quarter-finals in Euro 1996 and a bitter semi-final defeat to the later winners from France in the Euro 2000 tournament. Even though Couto neared 34 years of age at the Euro 2004, his formidable partnership with fellow veteran Jorge Costa in Portugal's central defence saw him escape new coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's mass culling of the side that crashed out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in the first round. Couto was selected the captain of the Portuguese national team at the Euro 2004, which was hosted on home grounds in Portugal. With some disastrous display in the opening game against Greece, which the team lost 2-1 in the opening. He was relegated to the bench to make way for Ricardo Carvalho, and the captain's armband was handed to Figo (vice-captain). The team was upset 0-1 by Greece in the final game.

Couto ended his national team career following the Euro 2004 exit. He ended at level with Luís Figo as the most-cap player in Portuguese history, with 110 appearances for the national team, though Figo went on to play a further 18 national team games.

Career statistics






External links

1987-88 Porto Portuguese Liga 1 0
1988-89 Famalic√£o
1989-90 Académica Coimbramarker Liga de Honra
1990-91 Porto Portuguese Liga 25 3
1991-92 32 2
1992-93 26 4
1993-94 23 1

1994-95 Parma Serie A 27 4
1995-96 12 0

1996-97 FC Barcelona La Liga 27 0
1997-98 18 0

1998-99 Lazio Serie A 22 2
1999-00 14 0
2000-01 18 0
2001-02 29 1
2002-03 15 0
2003-04 23 3
2004-05 24 3
2005-06 Parma Serie A 23 0
2006-07 23 2
2007-08 17 0

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