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Premier League Cult Icons: Geovanni

Before 2008, the idea of Hull City boasting a former Brazilian international was an unthinkable notion and yet Geovanni made those dreams a reality.

With Barcelona and Benfica on his CV, Geovanni entered the Premier League stage with Manchester City before enjoying an unforgettable spell with Hull as they made their top-flight bow. 

An instant fan favourite at Manchester City, his popularity at the club soared to new heights when he scored the match-winning goal in the derby against Manchester United. Adored by those of a blue persuasion, he was a nuisance to Sir Alex Ferguson; Geovanni scored the diving header for Benfica that dumped United out of the Champions League in 2005.

Geovanni's stint at Man City lasted a year and while it may have been fleeting, it opened the door for a move to Hull City.

On Humberside he exhibited his immense talent, shouldering the responsibility of Hull's quest for survival and producing a series of outrageous goal that kept the club in the division.

Despite his final appearance for the club being marred by relegation in the following campaign, Geovanni earned his rightful place in Hull folklore and is revered as one of the club's greatest players from that Premier League era.

Geovanni In Profile

Place of BirthAcaiaca, Minas Gerais, Brazil
PositionAttacking midfielder
Premier League club(s)Hull City, Manchester City
Premier League appearances79
Premier League goals14
Premier League assists2
International caps1
Other notable clubsBarcelona, Benfica, Cruzeiro

Journey into football

Hailing from Acaiaca in the region of Minas Gerais, Geovanni signed for his boyhood club Cruzeiro as a teenager before making the transition into the first-team at the age of 17.

Brazilian media were absorbed by Geovanni's talent after a fruitful loan spell with local side America-MG and upon his return to Cruzeiro, the flamboyant forward cemented his place in the first-team and didn't look back.

In the year 2000, Geovanni helped Cruzeiro to their third Copa do Brasil title before representing Brazil at the Sydney Olympics. Within 10 months Geovanni's stock had soared, attracting the attention of elite clubs from around Europe, including Arsenal and Juventus.

Barcelona jumped to the front of the queue in the summer of 2001 and acquired Geovanni from Cruzeiro for $18 million.

He was subsequently named in Brazil's Copa America squad by Luiz Felipe Scolari, winning his first and only cap in a clash with Mexico.

A full Brazilian international and one of Barcelona's newest purchases, the world appeared to be at Geovanni's feet. Fortunately for Hull City fans, his time at the Camp Nou was defined by immense frustration.

Style of play

Parading around the pitch with his delightful samba swagger, Geovanni was the tricky Brazilian who could carve match-winning moments of magic.

From the thunderous strike against Arsenal to the fabulous diving header against West Brom, Geovanni could finish emphatically and more impressively, he'd score with either foot.

Free-kick proficiency was a bonus feature in Geovanni's attacking armoury and the Brazilian produced a catalogue of set-piece stunners, his sublime technique generating ferocious speed and inch-perfect accuracy.

He could weave beyond defenders with startling ease and whip in dangerous crosses, his individual brilliance helping to break down opposition defences.

Hull City legacy

As Phil Brown once hailed him, he was the "sunshine boy" on Humberside - even if their relationship soured as time passed.

He may have only spent two years in East Yorkshire but Geovanni left an indelible mark on Hull supporters and vice versa.

In a period of his career where he reflects most fondly, Geovanni was the maverick in an iconic Tigers side including the likes of Dean Windass, Nick Barmby and Anthony Gardner, helping the club to stave off relegation in their debut Premier League season.

The Brazilian scored their first ever goal in the top-flight, produced the extraordinary goal in a stunning win over Arsenal and delivered the sublimely-struck free-kick against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

He was even sat on the floor at the Etihad when Brown delivered his infamous dressing down at the Etihad.

Ultimately Hull were unable to preserve their Premier League status in the following campaign but affection for Geovanni has never dwindled.

Biggest career achievement

Geovanni's most successful period of his career was with Benfica, having won the Taça de Portugal in his first full season before helping the Lisbon club to the Primeira Liga title in the following years.

Named Benfica's Player of the Year for two years in a row, Geovanni's influence at the Estádio da Luz was significant.

And yet the Brazilian has admitted that his proudest career achievement was helping Hull retain their Premier League status.

Very few had given the Tigers any hope of remaining in the division and yet Geovanni's exceptional talent helped them to defy their critics. He finished the 2008/09 season as the club's top goalscorer with Hull beating the drop by a single point.

Did you know?

Before signing for Manchester City in 2007, Geovanni was approached by Harry Redknapp and offered a trial at Portsmouth.

Geovanni accepted and even featured in a trial match against Yeovil at Huish Park, scoring one and assisting another. The winger had his heart set on a move to the Hampshire coast and yet a contract offer never materialised.

He was in the process of signing a short-term contract with Monaco when Sven-Göran Eriksson swooped in, joining Elano as the Brazilian influx began.

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