Unknown Bebe Is The Latest Devil

New Manchester United striker Bebe spoke of his delight at completing a 'dream' move to Old Trafford. The little-known 20-year-old had played only Third Division football in Portugal and a handful of friendlies for his new club, Vitoria Guimaraes, when United made a shock £7.4million move which activated the release clause in his contract.

Bebe, who was raised in a children's home, said: "I'm very happy. I had the dream of playing, one day, for a major club. That dream has come true." The player's sudden emergence at Guimaraes in pre-season forced United to act quickly and ward off interest from Real Madrid. So, who is the mystery player United have slotted straight into their squad and why has Sir Alex Ferguson invested millions in him?

Bebe? That's not his real name, is it?

Course not. It's Tiago Manuel Dias Correia. But he's been known as Bebe ever since his elder brother called him that. Is it true that he was raised in an orphanage? Not quite. It was a children's home for kids whose parents can't provide for them called Casa do Gaiato de Santo Antao do Tojal in Loures on the outskirts of Lisbon. He was born in nearby Cacem and his parents are from Cape Verde, just like his new team-mate Nani.

So how did he become a footballer?

He learned to play on the streets but was spotted playing for the Loures junior team by Estrela da Amadora, now in Portugal's Third Division, and came through the ranks there.

 Didn't he appear in the Homeless World Cup as well?

Not exactly. He played for the CAIS homeless organisation in the European Street Football Festival in Bosnia last year when, amazingly, he scored 40 goals in six games - more than any team put together. But Portugal's Homeless World Cup squad had already been selected by then and it was too late to change.

So, United got him from Estrela da Amadora?

No. When Bebe's club failed to pay him five weeks ago, he joined Vitoria Guimaraes on a free transfer. They snapped him up and stuck him on a five-year contract with a 9million euro release clause. United agreed to pay but it's still a bit of a gamble for a player who has appeared only in the third division and a handful of friendlies for Guimaraes. They'll be happy with a £7m-plus profit though.

So what made United boss Ferguson move for him?

Fergie's former assistant and current Portugal manager, Carlos Queiroz, recommended the player. Real Madrid were hovering, too, so he can't be too shabby. Apparently Ferguson didn't even meet the player for the first time until earlier this week when he flew over to give evidence for Queiroz in a disciplinary hearing.

What are his strengths?

He is said to be fast with raw ability and a sweet right foot. At 6ft 2in, he's good in the air as well. Rather like Cristiano Ronaldo, he can play on either flank, through the middle or as a second striker. His former coach at Estrela da Amadora, Jorge Paixao, said: 'He's a player who is the fruit of street football. He learned to play in the street and has that natural creativity, an irreverence, and that makes all the difference.'

United have eight senior strikers now. Will he play this season?

Well, because he's under 21 he will not cost United a slot in their 25-man Premier League squad. And, with Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf out on loan, he might get a shot.

Exclusively by Chris Wheeler

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