(Portugal), FC Barcelona (Spain), FC Porto (Portugal)
Portuguese national league championships (89/90, 91/92, 92/93,
93/94, 95/96, 98/99, 02/03, 03/04)
4 Portuguese cups (90/91, 93/94, 99/00, 02/03)
6 Portuguese supercups (89/90, 90/91, 92/93, 93/94, 02/03,
1 Spanish national league championship (97/98)
2 Spanish cups (96/97, 97/98)
1 Spanish supercup (97/98)
1 UEFA Cup Winner's Cup (96/97)
1 UEFA Cup (02/03)
1 UEFA Champions League Cup (03/04)
1 FIFA Intercontinental Cup (04)
Vítor Baía, (born 15 October 1969 in São Pedro da
Afurada, Portugal), nicknamed "Vítor Baliza" (Portuguese for
goalmouth), is a professional footballer.
A FC Porto trainee, Baía debuted at 19 years of age (after being
advised to quit after an arm injury when only sixteen) replacing
ECC winner Josef Mlynarczyk, who had fractured his shoulder
during training. However, in order to grab his first team place
he resigned from playing in the 1989 Football World Youth
Championship after being deliberately placed in the injure list,
which led to much criticism over him in his upcoming national
team career. He was the U-21 National Team goalkeeper, and had
is debut for the main National Team, at 19 December 1990, in a
1-0 win over USA, in a friendly match. He went to have 78 caps
for the "Selecção" until 2002. He played all the games in the
Euro Cup 1996 and 2000 finals (except one in this last one) and
in the World Cup 2002 finals.
Hailed as goalkeeper with enormous talent, Baía captured five
first division titles and achieved the Portuguese record of most
minutes unbeaten with 1191 minutes before departing with Bobby
Robson to FC Barcelona in 96-97. While he only missed one
Spanish Liga game in his first season and captured a Cup Winners'
Cup, he had severe knee problems which ruled him out for the
next two seasons. Under team guidance of coach Louis Van Gaal he
was excluded from the team in favour of Ruud Hesp, and was
loaned in mid-season back to FC Porto in the 98-99 season,
filling the goalkeeper spot some said he had "haunted" since his
departure, as several goalkeepers failed to convince in that
position. Upon his return to FCPorto, Baia dropped his number 1
jersey and picked the 99, the year of his return.
Just as his career seemed back on track, he was injured again
halfway during the 99-00 season. He had surgery in mid 2000 on
his knees and never got in shape again, and had metallic plates
inserted to avoid limping. Baia only returned late in the 01-02
season, after a couple of tests in FC Porto "B" side, but still
in time to play in the 2002 World Cup.
Fit at the start of the season for the first time since 1999,
Baía (now with a less flamboyant but more effective style) had
to not only prove he was capable of handling the pressure, but
to impress new national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Only a
few weeks into the Superliga he had a disagreement with coach
José Mourinho, which cost him the goalkeeper spot. After he
apologized for the incident, he had one of the most impressive
seasons of his career, winning his second European trophy,
seventh league trophy and fourth cup.
However, despite winning a second Superliga title and the 2004
UEFA Champions League and being chosen by UEFA as the 2004 best
goalkeeper in Europe, Baía was not called up again, and Scolari
left him out of the Euro 2004 final 23 call-up. Seems unlikely
that he will return to the National Team if Scolari remains as
manager for much more time.
With the 3-0 FC Porto victory over AS Monaco in the 2004 UEFA
Champions League he became the first Portuguese player to
capture a Grand Slam (winning the UEFA Champions League, UEFA
Cup and Cup Winners' Cup), a select group which Baía joins as
only the tenth member.
After the failure in the 2002 World Cup, coach António Oliveira
was sacked. In his place, Luiz Felipe Scolari was called, and
Baía, a stalwart for the past 10 years, was ditched. Although
for the first games it looked a result of the 2002 World Cup (Baía
was a frequent scapegoat for national team bad results), with
the poor goalkeeping during the Euro 2004 preparation matches
the question was raised (mostly by FC Porto fans), and while for
many Baía should have been called, for others he should have
quit the national team himself by 2002. Scolari always refused
to comment on Baía, which led to further heated discussions in
the public square.
While it looked like a result of Scolari's stubbornness, more
recently it was revealed weeks before the start of the
tournament that Baía was the only player serving as a witness
for Oliveira against the FPF. Some claim that Scolari had
included the goalkeeper name in the final 23, but was forced to
remove him. This claim is unsupported.
It is still unclear if Baía was dropped for playing reasons,
stubbornness or Gilberto Madaíl's (the National Football
Association president) order, and will probably remain a mystery
as long as Scolari is in charge.