Whatever happened to… Raul Meireles?

Raul Meireles’ football career was mystifying and unpredictable at the best of times. However, as Alasdair Hooper writes, not many could have foreseen what his return to public consciousness would eventually look like.

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It’s not often you get to dive into the bizarre world of Lip Sync Battles when writing about football – but that all changes thanks to Raul Meireles.

Naturally if you were to pick any footballer to appear on that show, it would be him.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea midfielder’s time in the Premier League was short – just over two seasons in total – but you could also argue it was just as colourful as his personality.

Meireles signed for Liverpool in the summer of 2010 when Roy Hodgson was manager. It was a period far removed from the glory days and Kenny Dalglish soon famously returned as boss midway through that same campaign.

As the Reds’ form turned around for the better, so did Meireles – who had struggled to stamp his authority on the league up until that point.

He scored his first goal in Dalglish’s first home game back as manager against Everton and his second goal came just six days later in a win against Wolves – and what a brilliant strike it was from 25 yards.

That surge in form, as well as earning him plenty of admirers, meant that he ended up winning the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year Award at the end of the season, beating the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and an in-form Samir Nasri. Hands up if you remember that award happening…

As well as his love for fashion and tattoos, which shone through on the pitch, it was clear to everyone that Meireles was – in many ways – very much his own man.

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And, soon enough, he was on the move from Liverpool to join Chelsea in August 2011, following a long-term injury to Michael Essien. Not long after the move, he stated publicly that Liverpool had forced him to hand in a transfer request, as well as blasting them over false promises.

The move to Chelsea saw him reunited with Andre Villas-Boas, who he had briefly worked with at Porto. Of course we all know how Villas-Boas’ tenure ended at the Blues, but while Meireles didn’t enjoy the most stellar season, he did come away with two titles. He came on for the final 15 minutes in the FA Cup final as Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1 and won a Champions League winners’ medal, despite missing that famous final in Munich through suspension.

Meireles’ time in England came to an end in September 2012 when he joined Fenerbahce. After four seasons with the Turkish club, he eventually retired. Along the way he had added to his medal collection with victories in the Super Lig, Turkish Cup and the Turkish Super Cup.

But this all pales into insignificance when you consider what is probably his crowning achievement of all.

In 2019 he re-entered the public consciousness thanks to his appearance on the Portuguese version of Lip Sync Battle miming along to Antonio Variacoes’ song ‘O corpo e que paga.’

If that belting tune wasn’t enough, then his ‘pirate-like’ costume, and accompanying dance moves, really add to the whole bewildering experience.

So – no matter what bizarre moments the world throws up at you in the future – you can always gain comfort from the fact it will never be as weird as seeing a former Premier League midfielder lighting up the dancefloor in his harem pants.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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