Abel Luís da Silva Costa Xavier (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐˈbɛɫ ʃɐviˈɛɾ]; born 30 November 1972) is a Portuguese former professional footballer who played as a full back. He is the current head coach of the Mozambique national team.
Xavier played for clubs in Portugal, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, England, Turkey and Germany before retiring with the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2008.
From his debut in 1993, Xavier played 20 games for the Portugal national team, and was selected in their squads for UEFA Euro 2000 and 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Xavier debuted in the Portuguese top division with Estrela da Amadora. His play there earned him a transfer to Lisbon club Benfica. He helped Benfica win the Portuguese league in 1994, and a season after, he moved to Serie A side Bari. This stint with the Italian club started a series of transfers across Europe: in 1996, Xavier was sent to Real Oviedo, then after two seasons he moved to PSV.
Everton and Liverpool
Xavier joined English Premier League club Everton in September 1999 on a £1.5 million transfer deal. He was sold to Everton's Merseyside rivals Liverpool on 30 January 2002 for £800,000, only the fourth player to transfer from Everton to Liverpool. He was signed to bolster Liverpool's defence following Markus Babbel's absence through illness. Xavier scored on his Liverpool debut against Ipswich Town. He also scored against Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League. Liverpool ended the 2001–02 FA Premier League season as runners-up to Arsenal.
Xavier started the first four league games of the 2002–03 FA Premier League season but later argued with Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier and did not feature in any of the remaining games, though he did play in a League Cup tie against Ipswich in December. On 29 January 2003, he was loaned to Turkish side Galatasaray for the remainder of the season, with an option of a permanent move in the summer.
Galatasaray did not take up the option to sign Xavier, who subsequently played for Hannover 96 (2003–04) and Roma in 2004–05.
At the start of the 2005–06 season, Xavier was without a club but at the end of August, he signed for Middlesbrough to replace Michael Reiziger after the Dutchman was sold to PSV. Following the UEFA Cup tie against Skoda Xanthi, Xavier was administered a drugs test and failed. On 23 November 2005, he was found guilty of using the anabolic steroid methandrostenolone (also known as dianabol). Although he has always denied any wrongdoing, the tribunal banned him from professional football for a period of 18 months, a suspension which caused him to miss Middlesbrough's run to the 2006 UEFA Cup final. Xavier appealed the decision but on 21 December, UEFA dismissed the appeal. The ban, however, was shortened to 12 months in June 2006, making him eligible to play again from November 2006.
In the summer of 2006, Xavier began training again with Middlesbrough, and on 8 November 2006, was offered a contract with the club for the remainder of the 2006–07 season. He scored his first Boro goal in January 2007 against Bolton Wanderers.
On 14 May 2007, it was announced that Xavier was to join the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS). He played in his first game with the Galaxy on 17 June 2007 at home against Real Salt Lake, setting up fellow new signing Edson Buddle in a 3–2 win.
Xavier was waived by Los Angeles on 18 July 2008. Later, in an interview to an online football site, Xavier criticized then-Galaxy manager Ruud Gullit and MLS. In December 2009, Xavier quit professional football.
Xavier was a part of the Portugal squad which came third at the 1989 FIFA U-16 World Championship in Scotland.
Xavier's full international debut for senior team came on 31 March 1993, away in Switzerland in qualification for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He played three more matches in the unsuccessful qualification campaign that year and did not play for Portugal again until 1998.
Xavier was selected for UEFA Euro 2000 and became one of the key figures in the competition, not only due to playing some of his best football but also due to a distinctly bleached-blonde hairstyle with a matching beard. In the semi-final against France, he went from close to hero, as France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez blocked what looked a sure goal, to a villain, when he deflected a shot by Sylvain Wiltord near the post in the dying seconds of golden goal extra time with his hand. Zinedine Zidane scored the penalty and put France in the final. Xavier was initially given a nine-month ban from football for his vociferous protests against referee Günter Benkö's decision to award the penalty, but it was eventually reduced to six months. In the 2002 World Cup, he was part of the squad but played only as a substitute in the final group stage match against South Korea in his final of 20 international appearances.
In July 2013, Xavier signed to be manager of Portuguese top division club Olhanense for the upcoming 2013–14 Primeira Liga season. He was sacked by the club on 28 October 2013, despite beating Arouca in his last match to reach 11th in the table.
In December 2014, Xavier signed for another team from the Algarve, Farense of the Segunda Liga. He left his position on 28 May, after leading his team to the 11th position.
In July 2015, Xavier signed a one-year deal with another team in the second division, Desportivo das Aves. He was fired in early September after a series of poor results.
On 26 January 2016, he signed a two-year contract as coach of the Mozambique national team, starting work on 1 February.
Xavier was born in Mozambique, which was then a Portuguese colony, and moved to Portugal as a child. He grew up in a strict Catholic background. On retiring from his playing career, Xavier converted to Islam and changed his first name to Faisal.
|Portugal national team|
|1||14 October 1998||Tehelné pole, Bratislava, Slovakia||Slovakia||0–3||0–3||Euro 2000 qualifying|
|2||9 October 1999||Estádio da Luz (1954), Lisbon, Portugal||Hungary||3–0||3–0||Euro 2000 qualifying|
- As of 15 November 2016
|Olhanense||7 July 2013||28 October 2013||7001100000000000000♠10||7000300000000000000♠3||7000200000000000000♠2||7000500000000000000♠5||07001300000000000000♠30.00|
|Farense||1 December 2014||28 May 2015||7001270000000000000♠27||7001110000000000000♠11||7000600000000000000♠6||7001100000000000000♠10||07001407400000000000♠40.74|
|Desportivo Aves||9 July 2015||4 September 2015||7000600000000000000♠6||5000000000000000000♠0||7000200000000000000♠2||7000400000000000000♠4||005000000000000000000♠0.00|
|Mozambique||26 January 2016||Present||7000900000000000000♠9||7000200000000000000♠2||7000200000000000000♠2||7000500000000000000♠5||07001222200000000000♠22.22|
- Estrela da Amadora
- Segunda Liga: 1992–93
- Primeira Liga: 1993–94
- Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira: Runner-up 1994
- Johan Cruijff Shield: 1998–99
- FA Community Shield: Runner-up 2002
- Portugal Youth
- UEFA European Under-16 Championship: 1989
- FIFA U-16 World Cup: Third-place 1989
- UEFA Under-18 Championship: Runner-up 1990
- FIFA U-20 World Cup: 1991