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Endurance and skill

In-form ace Zé Roberto seeks crowning glory

Now in his fifth season at Bayern, Zé Roberto has made 199 competitive appearances for the club, winning the Cup and league double in 2003, 2005 and 2006. However, the Brazilian came within inches of a new experience after 81 minutes of Sunday’s thumping 5-0 victory against Dortmund, as he narrowly missed scoring his first-ever headed goal.

The miss hardly detracted from a sparkling display by the central midfielder. “Ze’s in great form,” fellow enforcer Andreas Ottl declared. The Brazilian has won plaudits this term for his hitherto unsuspected ball-winning skills, but he reverted to attacking type against Dortmund as an able replacement for the injured Franck Ribéry.

Zé enjoying his football

Always a threat with a series of solo runs and bursts into the box, Zé provided the assist for Luca Toni’s second and Bayern’s fourth with a precise lob on 22 minutes, having earlier struck his fifth goal of the season to make it 2-0 after eight minutes. This season alone, the Brazilian has already bettered the total he scored in his four previous seasons at the club, and his personal best – seven for Leverkusen in 1999-2000 – is definitely within reach.

“I’m not going to praise him ‘cos it’ll go to his head,” Luca Toni declared afterwards, although the big man’s impish grin showed just how much he enjoys playing alongside the gifted 33-year-old. Ze Roberto himself is enjoying his football as seldom before. “Not many players have managed to perform consistently at such a high level for so long,” he told Bavarian TV on Monday.

Suspended in Frankfurt

The player has never regretted returning to Bayern after a season with Santos. “My greatest wish is to win the league with Bayern again. It would be the crowning glory of my career,” he declared, still eyeing medals in the autumn of his playing days.

His certainly has the stamina to back up his hunger for trophies, leading the way in the Bayern squad with 2,231 Bundesliga playing minutes this term. However, he will not add to the total in Frankfurt on Wednesday, as he has reached five yellow cards and serves a one-match ban for the first time since coming to Munich – not that he is particularly concerned. “We’ve had a lot of matches recently, so it’ll be nice to have Wednesday for recovery purposes.“ Zé Roberto still has big plans, aiming for trophies, and maybe even that elusive headed goal.