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Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010

Carlos to team up with Ronaldo on Corinthians

SAO PAULO (AP) World Cup veteran left-back Roberto Carlos was officially introduced to Corinthians fans on Monday and vowed to help the Brazilian club win its first Copa Libertadores title.

News photo
Back home in Brazil: Roberto Carlos holds up a Corinthians jersey at his presentation in Sao Paulo on Monday. AP PHOTO

Returning to Brazil after 15 years in European soccer, the 36-year-old defender signed a two-year contract with Corinthians and said he will end his career at the club after leaving Turkish side Fenerbahce last month.

"It's an important year for Corinthians, playing the Libertadores in its centennial," he said. "This title would mean the same, or even more, than the (Champions League) I won with Real Madrid in Europe. It's one of the few titles I haven't won in my career."

The Copa Libertadores — Latin America's most important club competition — also is the only major title to elude Corinthians, which is Brazil's second most popular club behind Flamengo.

About 3,000 fans welcomed Carlos at the team's stadium, celebrating and chanting his name.

"I've had emotional moments in my career before, but this one is unique," he said. "It's moving to hear this crowd yell my name. I hope to reward them on the field."

Carlos played for Corinthians' rival, Palmeiras, before moving to Europe in 1995 to join Inter Milan and eventually Real Madrid and Fenerbahce.

He will be joining former Brazil teammate Ronaldo, who has been playing with Corinthians since last year.

Both players were starters when Brazil won the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, and also were together at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when Brazil was eliminated by France in the quarterfinals.

"Ronaldo is not only my friend, I can call him my brother," Carlos said. "I've learned a lot with him and it's great to see him scoring goals again."

Corinthians said his contract is similar to Ronaldo's deal with the team, which is largely based on marketing actions. The player said he talked a lot with Ronaldo before deciding to sign with the club and said the striker was key in his return to Brazilian soccer.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Carlos also said he is fit and hopes that good performances with Corinthians this year could open the door to a return to the national team for the first time since the 2006 World Cup.

Corinthians will debut this season in the traditional Sao Paulo state championship against Monte Azul on Jan. 17. The team is the competition's defending champion.

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