Képler Laveran Lima Ferreira, best known as Pepe (born February 26, 1983 in Maceió, Brazil), is a Brazilian-born Portuguese football central defender, who plays for Real Madrid in the Spanish first division.
The Marítimo years
At the age of 17, Pepe, along with his friend Ezequias
youth team Corinthians Alagoano
and signed for the B-team of Portuguese Liga
outfit C.S. Marítimo
, on the island of Madeira
. After one season where he played 10 games, Pepe was promoted to the first team for the 2002-03 season. The Brazilian's impact was incredible and he soon nailed down a place in the starting eleven, forming a formidable partnership with Mitchell van der Gaag
in Marítimo's defence.
By the end of the season, under new manager Anatoliy Byshovets, Pepe started to show his versatility and adapted well to several positions including defensive and attacking midfielder, and even as a support striker. The move by Byshovets paid off, particularly when Pepe scored against Sporting de Braga to give Marítimo a vital 1-0 away victory.
During pre-season of 2003-04, Marítimo gave permission for the player to train with Sporting Club de Portugal for two weeks, after which a deal could be negotiated for the player's transfer. However, neither club could agree on terms and the move broke down, with Pepe returning to the Madeira club shortly after. His success continued, and after another season he signed for FC Porto during the summer of 2004 for €1 million plus three players, Tonel, Evaldo and Antonielton Ferreira. A clause in the agreement also stated that Marítimo would receive 20% of any future transfer fee.
In his first season, with coach Víctor Fernández
at the helm, Pepe was on the bench most of the season, playing under veterans Pedro Emanuel
, Jorge Costa
, and utility man Ricardo Costa
, as central defenders.
In 2005-06, under the guidance of Co Adriaanse, Pepe had a breakthrough season, establishing himself as one of the best defenders in the Portuguese league. Adriaanse often chose a 3-4-3 offensive system, with the Brazilian often pitched as his only natural stopper.
On July 16
, Real Madrid
signed the highly rated 24-year-old from Porto. Pepe penned a five-year contract with the Spanish
champions, for a fee of €30 million.
On November 8, he came to blows with teammate Javier Balboa during a training session.Pepe would be nonetheless called-up for Real Madrid's next match, whereas the winger would not.
On December 23, 2007, in Real Madrid's 1-0 away win against FC Barcelona, Pepe produced an excellent performance. He made no mistakes during that game, and earned a 9/10 rating, receiving the Man of the match award. Although arguably one of his best career performances, he later stated that it was a team effort.
Pepe never represented native Brazil
in any youth category. He received Portuguese citizenship in August 2007, and on August 30th was named in the Portuguese squad
for the first time, in view of a Euro 2008 qualifier
. An injury while training for his club prevented the debut for his adopted country, which would materialize almost four months later, in Portugal's last qualifier against Finland
(0-0 home draw), on November 21
In the tournament's final stages, Pepe played in all of the national side's matches, scoring once, in a 2-0 win against Turkey, on June 7, 2008.
Honours and awards