Fábio Aurélio had the attributes and talent to be mentioned alongside the likes of Alan Kennedy, John Arne Riise as well as current defender Andrew Robertson in the conversation of the greatest left-backs to play for Liverpool FC.
However, his Anfield career was cruelly plagued by a number of injuries which have prevented him from being labelled a club legend.
The Brazilian arrived from Valencia during the summer of 2006 on a free transfer to join up once again with Rafa Benítez who coached the player at the Mestalla. His arrival on Merseyside promised direct competition for Riise on the left side of the Reds’ defence.
It was also the beginning of a new era of sorts — Aurélio became the first Samba Boy to sign for Liverpool, and since then there has always been a Brazilian in the first team squad at Anfield, from faithful servant Lucas Leiva to the current trio of Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino.
In his first two seasons he was unable to stake his claim as first-choice left-back, making only 25 appearances in 2006/07 and 29 in 2007/08 in all competitions.
However, following his Norwegian rival’s departure in the summer of 2008, a window of opportunity arose for Aurélio. He grasped that opportunity with both hands and was finally able to become the first choice on the left side of Liverpool’s back four. The free-kick in the 4-0 win against Manchester United was his stand-out moment of the 2008/09 season.
The former Valencia defender was able to keep fit for a majority of the season, but he did spend a month on the sidelines through the whole of December.
After such a fantastic season for Liverpool, it seemed that Fábio Aurélio had cemented his name as Liverpool left-back for the next few years. His breakout season, however, would turn out to be his last as a regular in the starting XI.
The 2009/10 season was when the No.12’s injury issues really began to take their toll. He spent 21 league games sidelined and his contract at Anfield was about to expire. Liverpool, not best pleased with the how long the Brazilian had spent on the hospital bed, offered a pay-as-you-play deal — Aurélio rejected the offer and his time on Merseyside looked to have ended.
Benítez’s departure and the arrival of Roy Hodgson sparked more negotiations with the defender. The new manager noticed a lack of depth in the full-back area and decided to offer the injury-plagued player an improved contract.
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The decision ultimately proved to be a misjudgement — one of many in that era — as it was yet another campaign where he would spend the majority of the season battling more injury problems. His final season at Liverpool, saw him make only three appearances across all competitions.
The tale of Fábio Aurélio is a cruel one of a talented player who could have become one of the very best in his position. Injury problems across all six of his seasons at Liverpool ended his chances of becoming the best — he made only 134 appearances across six seasons at Anfield.
His name will always be remembered for that goal against Manchester United in the famous 4-1 victory, as well as the unusual free-kick against Chelsea in the Champions League.
Unfortunately, he will also remembered as a player who could not fulfil his undoubted potential. After leaving for Grêmio in his native Brazil, aged 32, injury issues continued to plague him until his retirement two years later.