Mario Jardel is a former Brazilian international striker, who scored 298 goals in 321 games, all before the age of 30. And in that period, he played for teams such as FC Porto, Sporting Lisbon, Galatasary, Vasco de Gama and Gremio, in which, he won countless trophies for both his personal achievements and the clubs’ as well.
A brief history
Vasco de Gama (1991-1996, 26 Goals in 50 games)
Mario Jardel started his football career at Vasco de Gama in 1991, after having being transferred from Brazilian side Ferroviário Atlético Clube at the age of 18 years old. He was a relative unknown and had to work hard to even get on the bench with the first team. He went on to play fifty times for Vasco de Gama in a period of 5 years; and in that time he scored twenty six goals with a ratio of a goal every two games. In his last couple of seasons with Vasco de Gama, the young goal scoring striker made his mark. And a host of suitors from the major Brazilian clubs all lined up trying to get his signature. In 1995, he was loaned to Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Gremio side who had more financial power than Vasco de Gama.
Gremio (1995-1996, 67 goals in 73 games)
During his year at Gremio, his goal scoring prowess came to the fore and he scored an astonishing 67 goals in 73 games. Gremio won the Copa Libertadores –the biggest trophy, a South American club can win– Recopa Sudamericana and Campeonato Gaúcho two times with Jardel leading team. His performances in the Copa Libertadores were the highlight of his career at Gremio as he finished as the tournament’s top scorer. He left Gremio when he was twenty three years old and even at that age, he was already recognised as a club legend.
FC Porto (1996-2000, 130 goals in 125 goals)
In 1996, he moved to FC Porto; after two failed moves to SL Benfica due to financial troubles and Rangers FC over work permit issues. At FC Porto, Mario Jardel was just another young prospect which the club were giving a platform to show his worth in one of Europe’s top leagues. His move to Europe and the fanfare he had created in Brazil lead to him getting his first international cap against Russia in August that year. He went on to seal his status as a goalscoring giant not only in Brazil but in the whole of Europe during his four years at Porto. He lead the team to win the league title three times (Portuguese Liga), two Cup triumphs (Taça de Portugal) and two SuperCup (Primeira Liga) triumphs as well. And, he was Europe’s top scorer in all its leagues for three consecutive years. Scoring a legendary 130 goals in 125 games. A record, that in modern times, can only be matched by the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo; whom arguably are the best players of not only this generation but of all time.
To this day, he is one of only ten footballers to have won multiple “UEFA European Golden shoe” award which is awarded to Europe’s top scorer. He won it in the 1998–99 and 2001–02 seasons, in fact, he could have won it three times had it not been for the European Sports Media points systems which meant goals in the top five European leagues (England, Italy, Spain, Germany, France) got more points than those in the other European leagues.
Galatasary (2000-2001, 24 goals in 22 games)
His form led him to be signed by Galatasary, who had just won the treble that included the UEFA Cup, Turkish league and Cup triumphs. His astonishing goal scoring form continued in Turkey and he scored five goals on his debut, Then, he helped them beat Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup with two goals to complete a historic quadruple. At 27 years old, Mario Jardel was still producing outstanding goal scoring feats but one thing still eluded him and that was international recognition. His club form was not replicated in his few international appearances, he made for the Brazil national team. And the elite European clubs still were not willing to take gamble on him which lead to Mario Jardel to become disillusioned about his time Galatasary.
Sporting Clube de Portugal (2001-2003, 53 goals in 49 games)
Sporting CP realised that all was not well in Turkey, for Mario Jardel and decided to make an audacious offer to sign him. In their transfer offer, Sporting CP gave Galatasary 3 players plus a transfer fee and offered Jardel a massive contract in the excess of £10 million for three seasons which worked. After only 1 year in Turkey, he returned to Portugal in quest to get his dream move to one of Europe’s elite teams. And like everywhere he had been before he scored bucket loads of goals and by the age of thirty, he had amassed a goal record better than legendary strikers such as the Brazilian Ronaldo, Shevchenko, Michael Owen had in their entire career. Despite all his goals, Mario Jardel had never been on the podium or even in the consideration to being named the best player in the world or even Europe. Stories began to emerge at how Mario Jardel had become disillusioned with football and just as quickly he had risen from unknown to legend in Brazil, his decline was just quick….