Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Rise and fall
An FC Porto trainee, Baía debuted at 19 years of age (after being advised to quit after a arm injury when only sixteen) replacing ECC winner Josef Mlynarczyk , who had fractured his shoulder during training. 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 (several goalkeepers failed to convince in that position). He had surgery in mid 2000 on his knees and never got in shape again - he put some metallic things to avoid limping. Just as his career seemed back on track, he was injured again halfway during the 99-00 season, only returning in late 01-02, after a couple of tests in FC Porto "B" side, but still in time to play in the 2002 World Cup.
A new beginning
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 defending the goal in the successful Champions League run, Baía was not called up again, and Scolari left him out of the Euro 2004 final 23 call-up. Baía has 78 caps.
With the 3-0 FC Porto victory over AS Monaco in the 2004 Champions League he became the first Portuguese player to capture a Grand Slam (winning the Champions League, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners' Cup), a select group which Baía joins as only the tenth member.
Euro 2004 controversy
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 order, and will probably remain a mystery as long as Scolari is in charge.
The record: player with most titles won
Vitor Baía achieved on 20 August 2004 the title of professional football player with most titles won. Not only has he won 27 titles throughout his career, some of them are the top titles any professional player can win. Although he never won any title as goalkeeper for his national team he is one of the ten players to have won all the major European club titles.
The full list:
- 8 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 (90/91, 91/92, 93/94, 94/95, 99/00, 03/04)
- 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)
Such as other famous players like former national teamate Luís Figo, Baía created a foundation with his name. Shortly after the Euro 2004 final call-up, he announced a press conference in the Estádio do Dragão. While many expected him to "drop the bomb" on his absence from the national team, only a few knew beforehand what was the real subject of the callup - the announcement of the Fundação Vítor Baía, devoted to help needy children and teenagers.
One of the foundations' goals is to have the bicycle with most owners in the Guinness Book of Records, the BKI Always Number One.
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