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Léo (footballer, born 1975)

Full nameLeonardo Lourenço Bastos
Date of birth (1975-07-06) 6 July 1975 (age 45)
Place of birthCampos dos Goytacazes, Brazil
HeightScript error: No such module "convert".
Playing positionLeft back
Senior career*
1997–1998União São João40(1)
National team

Leonardo Lourenço Bastos (born 6 July 1975), commonly known as Léo, is a Brazilian retired footballer who played as a left back.

He spent most of his professional career with Santos and Benfica, arriving at the latter at the age of 25 and winning eight major titles, winning the same amount with the former during his two spells.

Léo represented Brazil in two Confederations Cups.

Club career


Léo was born in Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro. Local-based Americano Futebol Clube gave him his professional debut in 1996, and the next year he moved to São Paulo with União São João Esporte Clube. Two seasons later he was bought by Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras but, within six months, he was shown the door by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Subsequently Léo joined Santos FC for R$1.6 million fee,[1] quickly becoming an integral part of the team: in 2002, playing alongside the likes of Diego, Elano, Renato and Robinho, he won his first Série A championship, losing the following year's Copa Libertadores.


After having appeared in 201 official games for Santos, aged 30, Léo signed for S.L. Benfica from Portugal for an undisclosed fee, on a three-year contract. He made his Primeira Liga debut on 18 September 2005 in a 4–0 home win against U.D. Leiria, and played in an average of 27 league matches in his first three seasons, but the club came out empty on major silverware.

In the 2005–06 campaign, Léo appeared 36 in official games (all starts) as the Reds reached the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.

Return to Santos

In 2008–09, Léo began suffering stiff competition for the left-back position from compatriot David Luiz. On 14 January 2009 he left Benfica and returned to Santos,[2] continuing to display solid performances in spite of his age.

Léo was an important defensive unit during 2011 Paulista League, being also elected the best left-back of the tournament.[3] He also featured in all 12 matches for the club in Libertadores winning campaign, as well appearing in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup Final loss to FC Barcelona.

Léo featured only in four games during the 2012 Paulista League which was won by Santos, mostly due to the club's participation in the Libertadores – he also appeared 17 times in the national league. In September, he suffered a knee injury.[4]

After acting as a starter during the 2013 Paulista, Léo lost his left-back starting position to newly signed Eugenio Mena, and changed his position to midfielder in August 2013.[5] On 3 October he scored the last goal in a 3–0 home win over São Paulo FC, after coming on as a substitute for Thiago Ribeiro; however, later in the same month he again injured his knee, being sidelined for the remainder of the season.[6]

Léo returned to action on 3 April 2014, playing 16 minutes in a 0–0 draw at Mixto Esporte Clube for that year's Copa do Brasil. On the 24th, he was told that his contract (which was due to expire in six days) would not be renewed, and he later announced his retirement via Facebook, stating that "even though I feel I can still play, I can not see myself wearing another club's shirt";[7] additionally, he also sent a "special thanks to the great nation of Santos's supporters", saying: "It was for them I fought for every ball, celebrated every win and each one of the greatest titles".[8]

Léo played 455 games for Santos all competitions comprised, entering the club's history books as the player with more titles won after the Pelé era and also ranking tenth in the list of total appearances.

International career

Léo earned his first cap for Brazil on 31 May 2001, in the first game of the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup, against Cameroon (3–0 win). He made five appearances during the tournament, with the national team finishing in fourth position.

Léo was also selected for the 2005 Confederations Cup, in Germany. As Gilberto's backup, he only featured against Japan (2–2 group stage draw) as the Seleção went on to win the competition.









Club Season National League National Cup[i] Continental[ii] Other[iii] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Santos 2000 21 0 21 0
2001 16 0 4 0 20 2 40 2
2002 28 5 14 1 42 6
2003 42 3 21 3 6 0 69 6
2004 43 2 11 0 13 2 67 4
2005 6 0 8 1 10 1 24 2
Subtotal 156 10 4 0 40 4 63 6 263 20
Benfica 2005–06 26 0 3 0 9 0 38 0
2006–07 27 1 3 0 12 1 42 2
2007–08 27 0 3 0 12 0 42 0
2008–09 2 0 2 0 1 0 5 0
Subtotal 82 1 11 0 34 1 127 2
Santos 2009 24 1 6 0 30 1
2010 18 0 5 0 2 0 12 1 37 1
2011 22 1 12 0 16 1 50 2
2012 17 0 3 0 4 0 24 0
2013 14 1 4 0 12 0 30 1
2014 0 0 1 0 1 0
Subtotal 95 3 10 0 17 0 50 2 172 5
Career total 333 14 25 0 91 5 113 8 562 27


Léo's career was often surrounded by controversy. In late 2010, after São Paulo failed to qualify to the 2011 Copa Libertadores, he said its supporters should be content "to watch" the competition on television.[11]

The following year, when Santos won the continental tournament, he doubted of the capacity of its opponent in that year's FIFA Club World Cup, FC Barcelona,[12] who went on to win it 4–0, however. In 2012, when Sport Club Corinthians Paulista won the Libertadores and qualified to the following Club World Cup, he displayed irony while describing the trouble caused by the club's fans at the São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport, saying "he who is accustomed to train stations, should not go to airports".[13]

In March 2013, Léo regretted having made the comments about Corinthians, stating: "I am already 37 years old. I'll be quiet from now on. I won't speak what I'm thinking anymore (laughs). [...] Controversies are over".[14]


  1. ^ Placar – Março 2001 [Placar – March 2001] (in Portuguese). Google Books. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Leo comemora volta à Vila: 'É um privilégio voltar à casa onde despontei'" [Leo celebrates return to the Vila: 'It's an honour to return to the place where i grew up'] (in Portuguese). Globo Esporte. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2009. 
  3. ^ "Santos domina seleção do Campeonato Paulista" [Santos rules Campeonato Paulista's All-Star team] (in Portuguese). Lance Net. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Com lesão no joelho, Léo condiciona adeus ao futebol à recuperação (With a knee injury, Léo links retirement to recovery time); Globo Esporte, 25 September 2012 (Portuguese)
  5. ^ Léo surpreende e anuncia troca de lateral por meio-campo no Santos (Léo surprises and announces change from full-back to midfield at Santos); Globo Esporte, 18 August 2013 (Portuguese)
  6. ^ Léo se recupera bem de cirurgia no joelho no Santos (Léo recovers well from knee surgery at Santos); O Estado de S. Paulo, 18 October 2013 (Portuguese)
  7. ^ "Sem acordo com o Santos, lateral Léo anuncia aposentadoria aos 38 anos" [Without an agreement with Santos, full-back Léo announces retirement] (in Portuguese). Folha de S. Paulo. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "Léo é dispensado do Santos e anuncia aposentadoria aos 38 anos" [Léo is released from Santos and announces retirement at 38] (in Portuguese). Gazeta Esportiva. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Léo". Soccerway. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Léo". Footballdatabase. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Léo sobre São Paulo na Libertadores: 'Vai assistir' (Léo about São Paulo in Libertadores: 'They will watch it'); Lance Net, 18 November 2010 (Portuguese)
  12. ^ Santos chega à Vila e já dá aviso ao Barça: ‘Vamos ver se são tudo isso’ (Santos arrives at the Vila and warns Barça: ‘Let's see if they are all that’); Globo Esporte, 23 June 2011 (Portuguese)
  13. ^ Léo provoca corintianos: "Quem está acostumado com rodoviária não pode ir a aeroporto" (Léo provokes corintianos: "He who is accustomed to train stations must not go to airports"); ESPN Estadão, 2012 (Portuguese)
  14. ^ Léo 'light' abandona lado polêmico e critica supervalorização de garotos ('Light' Léo puts controversial side to rest and blasts kids' overrating); Globo Esporte, 16 March 2013 (Portuguese)

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