John Nicholson of Football365 looks back fondly at Fábio Rochemback’s Teesside adventure…
Fábio Rochemback only played 68 games for Middlesbrough from 2005-2008 but he made a big impression on our imagination and also on the pitch when he ran around. This was due to being, what physiotherapists and cruel gym teachers like to call, ‘a bit of a fat lad’ and the Teesside, parmo-based diet did nothing to correct this tendency, much to everyone’s delight. We all love a chunky lad, sadly increased levels of professionalism have made him a more rare beast these days.
An ex-Barcelona man, Rocky’s time at the club coincided with its most glorious days in the UEFA Cup. Like all husky-sized men, when he hit the ball, it stayed hit and Rocky liked a punt at goal. Usually these went somewhere other than in the goal, but occasionally, my god, he got it right. His final act in a Boro shirt was to a hit a phenomenal free kick to score the sixth goal in the final game of the 2007/08 season, an 8-1 win against Manchester City. You have never seen a ball hit harder.
He was an oblong-faced, slab of Brazilian meat who didn’t play Samba Football; Rocky doing the Samba would surely look like a builder eating chips while falling off some scaffolding. Initially he struggled and was not always a popular inclusion in the team – chants of ‘sendimback’ were not uncommon, especially with those fans who liked to conflate words, but eventually, towards the end of his tenure, he became some kind of hero. He brought comedy value, at times clumsy and a bit useless, but also capable of being a highly creative midfield presence who, when he had the right feet on, was part of the best bloody team Boro ever had.
Maybe his greatest game was against Basel in home leg of the Quarter Final of the UEFA cup when he was the a physical and creative power house that drove Boro on to a remarkable four goal deficit overhaul the like of which no Boro fan will ever see again. It was his long range shot that, in the 90th minute, was parried out by the keeper into the path of Massimo Maccarone to score the winning fourth goal. These were gold dust days of sheer goddamn, nostril-flaring rock ‘n’ roll glory. For perhaps all too brief a time Fabio Rochemback was a Teesside hero but that, my friends, is really something to be.