Clarence Clyde Seedorf was a player that fans loved and he is one with a fantastic career to look back on. Being picked as a youngster and go through the “gates” at Ajax school of excellence is the best guide to becoming a complete footballer.
He left Ajax as a teenager signing for Italian club Sampdoria. The stay in Serie A was short lived as Real Madrid came knocking to bring him to La Liga. After three years in Madrid he switched to AC Milan where he stayed for the next 10 years, ending his period in European football in 2012.
He had come to a certain age, 36 to be precisely, and a new adventure was to happen as the elegant hard working midfielder set his eyes on a move to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro. He was still fit and had played regularly for AC Milan at very highest level so not a big risk for Botafogo to take him on.
A few eyebrows were raised when Clarence decided to move to Brazil, but with a wife coming from the country it was probably something they had thought of a possible happening sometime in life and when the opportunity came up, it was probably easy to jump on the plane.
Botafogo is a club who have a great tradition of bringing up talent and players such as Jairzinho, Didi, Garrincha and Gerson. Some might also remember the full back Josimar who scored that wonderful goals v. Republic of Ireland in the 1986 World Cup.
When Clarence Seedorf signed for Botafogo he was seen as the best foreign player ever to have signed for the club. And his presence was magnificent. Often overlooked at the international scene as World Cup’s and Euro’s were played without him having the main part. He finished off with 87 caps the last one in 2008.
The clubs in South America and especially Brazil are almost plundered by European and in later years Chinese and Japanese clubs, who can offer higher wages and sign players for money that is not even close to get from transfer solely at that continent. To see someone moving the opposite way is a seldom sight, with Daniele Di Rossi and Patrick Kluivert and David Trezeguet as rare examples of the opposite.
Botafogo are seen as the 4th club in Rio, with Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco Da Gama being the three front runners. Botafogo tried to sign Seedorf 12 months earlier and finally got their man. Seedorf is born in Surinam, a country that share border with Brazil in the north.
Seedorf was a fan of Brazil, and replies in an interview with FIFA official website that his dad had to calm him down while watching France v. Brazil in the 1986 World Cup. Seedorf said, “I was crying with anger, because it was Zico’s last tournament, and for me he was what football is all about”.
Some players tend to fall deeper into roles either in a sitting midfield position or playing as a central defender, but not Clarence Seedorf, he wanted to avoid that and left AC Milan to just go forward and attack, scoring some cracking goals while continuing his great game for Botafogo.
Clarence continued and said, “if you have two players marking you, in Holland you get the message to pass the ball backwards, but here in Brazil they say take them both on and go forward, I feel closer to that mindset”.
Seedorf joined Botafogo with one message, use your experience and play your game in a way that we get the young squad to flourish around you. And in less then 12 months, the club had ended in 7th place in the league, winning the Rio State Championship, the Campeonato Carioca, a minor honor, but all in all for a club starving after success every title counts.
One of his teammates, Doria, sold to Marseille in 2014 said that having Seedorf around with his winning mentality just helped us all in becoming better players. We loved playing with him and I am so greatful I did.
He dominated games in a way that Globoesporte were so compelled by his masterful display with headlines such as “Garrincha style” as Seedorf dominated games in the final third.
Clarence Seedorf played 58 league games for Botafogo in which he scored 16 goals. His best league goal ratio in any team he played for during his career. Seedorf was close to his 38 birthday when he finished of his career in Brazil with a 3-0 win, securing 4th spot and scoring the final goal.
Throughout his time in Rio, he had a clause in his contract that he could return to AC Milan if they wanted his services as a coach, and the call came when Allegri was sacked by the Rossoneri.
Seedorf hang up his boots, but as he self said, “will never forget how Brazil welcomed me with open arms”, he would never forget that. He had taken Botafogo back to were they once were two decades before, competing in the Copa Libertadores.
If ever there was a journey for a football romantic, this was it. An icon following his heart to rekindle his love of the beautiful game – in the country which made it so pretty in the first place.
Botafogo have since Seedorf left seen a relegation and a straight promotion to Serie A, in 2014 and 2015, then finishing in a strong 5th postion in 2016, and in the last two seasons ended in the middle and not been able to maintain those strong results as you could see with Seedorf in the team.
Clarence Seedorf lasted only four months in the management chair at AC Milan. A strange decision to let their former star player leave since his results were pretty good. He has since leaving AC Milan in June 2014 been around and coached Chinese club Chenzen, Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna and from 2018 until this summer being the head coach of Cameroon.
“Il Profesore” will most certainly be back in management somewhere soon.