Clarence Seedorf Poster Boy for Brazilian Football and Botafogo

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Clarence Seedorf Poster Boy for Brazilian Football and Botafogo
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Most leagues have an all-encompassing star attraction, a character seen by fans as a representative of the competition as a whole, not only of one club.

For Spain read Lionel Messi; England, Robin van Persie; in Germany, Thomas Mueller. In Brazil, prior to his summer switch, the name was obvious: Neymar.

But since his highly publicised and drawn-out transfer to Barcelona, the burden has fallen onto the shoulders of 37-year-old Clarence Seedorf. Often seen as a factory line of outgoing talent, the arrival of one of the most successful players in European history has boosted Brazil's domestic game immeasurably.

The former Dutch international may be at the end of his career, but it remains a major coup not only for his club, Botafogo, but for the Brazilian championship as a whole.

Seedorf did it all in Europe. The only player to win the Champions League with three different clubs, Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan, he pulled on the shirt of other European giants, including playing for Milan's city rivals, Internazionale.

Most players would be hanging up their boots, giving themselves an admitted well-deserved pat on the back for a glittering 20-year career, but Seedorf has instead decided to embrace a new challenge. And the dynamism with which he has conducted himself this season shows his hunger for the game is as evident as ever.

The Brazilian season runs from the end of January to mid-December. Seedorf arrived in July 2012 with the season already over halfway through.

This year was his first full season as a Botafogo player, and he has made an awesome impact. He helped the club to the Campeonato Carioca, the Rio de Janeiro state championship, in May.

With six rounds remaining in the Campeonato Brasileiro, the club sit fourth in the national table, the final qualifying spot for the Copa Libertadores, which is the South American answer to the Champions League.

For much of the season Botafogo were going toe-to-toe with leaders Cruzeiro. A dip in form over the last seven weeks has left the Minas Gerais club as almost certain champions. But Seedorf has been the focal point of the Rio club's highs this year.

Botafogo is a young team. Teenage centre-back Doria is one of the most sought-after names in football, and the team also counts on midfielder Gabriel and attacker Hyuri who are in their first full season as professionals.

All have admitted in interviews that they look to Seedorf for advice and leadership at the club.

Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Clarence Seedorf has boosted football in Brazil

Because above all Seedorf is a team player, just one more in the group. Alongside goalkeeper Jefferson and central defender Bolivar he is one of the experienced heads of a promising squad, offering guidance and advice in the team's bid for a first national title since 1995, a feat that will go unrewarded for another year at least.

Clarence Seedorf is an observer, a perfectionist and above all a creator for others. But he is also a listener and took on board his new manager's advice, which has benefited the team enormously this term in his tactical switch.

During his last few years at Milan his position in the team had become increasingly withdrawn, to the point where he was playing as a deep-lying playmaker. Botafogo coach Oswaldo de Oliveira has changed that.

Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
During his last few years at Milan, Seedorf played a more withdrawn role

In Brazil he plays almost as a second striker, starting on the left-hand side and cutting in either to pass or shoot. His ease on the ball and range of passing has made him a valuable asset in the attacking third, chipping in with six goals and 15 assists during the league campaign.

The club suffered elimination from the Copa do Brasil in the quarter-finals at the hands of local rivals Flamengo. League form has dipped to the point where a once realistic title challenge has petered out and the club are desperately clinging onto Libertadores qualification.

But should they finish in the top four, they have the perfect protagonist to launch an audacious bid for continental conquests next year. One more string to stick in the evergreen Clarence Seedorf's illustrious bow.

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