Jose Vitor Roque Junior, invariably referred to as Roque Junior, enjoyed the biggest reputation of any of the players recruited by Leeds United manager Peter Reid in the early weeks of the club’s disastrous 2003/04 campaign.
Reid hoped to build an unlikely revival on the shaky foundations offered by a bunch of foreign mercenaries recruited on loan. In truth, with the financial storm clouds gathering around Elland Road, there were few other options open to him.
With the infallible benefits offered by hindsight, it is clear that Reid’s faith in a bunch of foreign mercenaries was horrifically misplaced; indeed, Roque Junior is widely regarded as one of United’s most disappointing signings, ranking only below the Swede, Tomas Brolin, as a figure of ridicule with Leeds fans.
The Brazilian’s seven first team appearances yielded four cautions, one dismissal, six defeats, 24 goals conceded and a horribly tarnished CV. His one moment of respite came in the Worthington Cup against Manchester United when he marked the occasion with two goals and a manic conga of celebration. Roque failed completely to live up to his billing as a classy World Cup winner, though in truth that reputation was based on flimsy evidence and he was always blighted with accusations of clumsiness and a failure to apply himself properly.
Reid’s assistant manager, Kevin Blackwell: “Bringing in the six foreign boys was just too many at that one time. There is always an element that one in four don’t come off, but we were in a position where all six had to come off… Roque Junior was only in the country for about eight hours and started a game against Leicester he was never meant to play in, but due to an injury to Dominic Matteo, he had to. He struggled for the rest of time after that. There’s a basic language necessity, that did prove to be a problem at times, and when we needed to build team spirit I don’t think it helped.”