Leonardo (footballer, born 1983)

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Personal information
Full name Leonardo de Vitor Santiago
Date of birth (1983-03-09) 9 March 1983 (age 40)
Place of birth Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Position(s) Winger
Youth career
Nova Safra
1995–2000 Feyenoord
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2000–2005 Feyenoord 53 (4)
2006 NAC Breda 31 (10)
2007–2009 Ajax 39 (5)
2009–2012 NAC Breda 42 (6)
2011–2012Red Bull Salzburg (loan) 30 (4)
2013–2014 Ferencváros 23 (7)
2014 1860 Munich 8 (2)
2015–2016 Newcastle United Jets 20 (1)
2017 FC Eindhoven 8 (1)
Total 254 (40)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Leonardo Vitor Santiago (born 9 March 1983), commonly known as Leonardo, is a Brazilian former professional footballer who played as a winger or playmaker. Leonardo is a former U-20 Brazilian international.


Nova Safra[edit]

Leonardo started at the Nova Safra football school in Rio de Janeiro and was raised in the Jacarezinho neighbourhood, which is also the area where Romário spent his early years. In 1994, at the age of 11 Leonard's football talent was discovered by Jos de Putter who directed the documentary "Solo, de wet van de favela" about him and another young player, Anselmo, from the slums of Rio de Janeiro.[1] The documentary focuses on how football plays a significant role in getting young people out of the hopeless living conditions that many young inhabitants of the slums live every day.[2]


Following the attention the film brought Leonardo, he moved to Rotterdam to play in Feyenoord's youth academy setup at Varkenoord.[3] Leonardo made his debut for Feyenoord on 19 August 2000 in a 2–0 victory over AZ Alkmaar at the age of 17.[4] Leonardo's debut sparked controversy for himself and Feyenoord as FIFA regulations for the status of players under article 19 dictate "international transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18" when it comes to non European Union (EU) players.[5] It turned out Leonardo had been misinformed and misrepresented which resulted in a forged Portuguese passport being handed to Leonardo that made Feyenoord believe they could play Leonardo when he was only 17.[6]

Leonardo had to wait until he turned 18 to play in Feyenoord's first team again. He scored his first goal in the match versus SC Heerenveen, which ended in 2–0. His second goal he scored in the away win against arch rivals Ajax.

In his first two seasons at Feyenoord he played 44 matches and scored four goals. He was part of the Feyenoord squad that won the 2001–02 UEFA Cup, playing as a substitute in the final.[7]

NAC Breda (first stint)[edit]

He joined NAC Breda in January 2006 on a 1.5-year deal.[citation needed] He helped NAC Breda to stay in the Eredivisie by scoring 8 goals in 14 matches in the regular season, which made him top goal scorer at the club.


In December 2006 Leonardo agreed with Ajax on a new 2.5-year contract. On 21 January 2007, he played his first Ajax Eredivisie game against FC Utrecht[8] Six weeks later in the game against SC Heerenveen he suffered a heavy injury tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, which sidelined him for at least six months.[citation needed]

NAC Breda (second stint)[edit]

2011 he went from NAC Breda to FC Red Bull Salzburg on loan.


In February 2013 Leonardo signed a contract with Hungarian top club Ferencváros.[9]

1860 Munich[edit]

In July 2014 Leonardo was contracted by German 2. Bundesliga club 1860 Munich. While he regularly played at the start of the 2014–15 season under coach Ricardo Moniz and managed to score twice, he was dropped from the squad after Markus von Ahlen took over the coaching position in September. His contract was terminated on his own wish in the end of November 2014.[10]

Newcastle United Jets[edit]

21 August 2015, Leonardo signed for A-League club Newcastle United Jets FC in Australia for the 2015–16 A-League season.[11] 12 September 2015, Leonardo made his debut for the Jets in the 0–0 pre-season draw with the Brisbane Roar at Redland City. Leonardo came on as a second-half substitute with thirty minutes to go in the match for youngster Mitch Cooper in the number ten role.[12] Leonardo made his A-League debut in the opening round match between the Jets and Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium. Leonardo started and played most of the match, being substituted in the 81st minute for striker Labinot Haliti. Newcastle and Leonardo won the match 2–1.

FC Eindhoven[edit]

In March 2017 Leonardo joined FC Eindhoven after receiving a Dutch passport.[13]

Career statistics[edit]

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition[14]
Club Season League
Division Apps Goals
Feyenoord 2000–01 Eredivisie 23 2
2001–02 Eredivisie 19 2
2002–03 Eredivisie 3 0
2003–04 Eredivisie 3 0
2004–05 Eredivisie 4 0
2005–06 Eredivisie 1 0
Total 53 4
NAC Breda 2005–06 Eredivisie 14 8
2006–07 Eredivisie 17 2
Total 31 10
Ajax 2006–07 Eredivisie 7 1
2007–08 Eredivisie 8 2
2008–09 Eredivisie 24 2
Total 39 5
NAC Breda 2009–10 Eredivisie 17 4
2010–11 Eredivisie 25 2
Total 42 6
Red Bull Salzburg (loan) 2011–12 Austrian Bundesliga 30 4
Ferencváros 2012–13 Nemzeti Bajnokság I 9 2
2013–14 Nemzeti Bajnokság I 14 5
Total 23 7
1860 Munich 2014–15 2. Bundesliga 8 2
Newcastle Jets 2015–16 A-League 20 1
FC Eindhoven 2016–17 Eerste Divisie 8 1
Career total 254 40




Red Bull Salzburg



  1. ^ "Solo - De wet van de Favela" (in Dutch). eeuwvandestad.nl. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Solo - De wet van de Favela". Netherlands Film Festival. Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  3. ^ Ajax confirm purchase of NAC Breda forward Leonardo Archived 8 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Feyenoord v AZ Alkmaar, 19 August 2000". www.11v11.com. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  5. ^ p.17 "Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players" (PDF). FIFA. 19 October 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 September 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  6. ^ Schoorl, John (26 June 2001). "Leonardo kreeg vals paspoort via criminelen" (in Dutch). www.volkskrant.nl. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  7. ^ "UEFA Cup results and team details". Telegraph. 8 May 2002. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  8. ^ "Tactical Formation". Football-Lineups.com. Retrieved 22 January 2007.
  9. ^ "Ferencváros announcing Leonardo has signed". Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  10. ^ "Leonardo & Lions are terminating contract" (in German). Archived from the original on 28 December 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Jets land Brazilian midfielder". A-League. 21 August 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  12. ^ Gardiner, James (12 September 2015). "Newcastle Jets 2015: Leonardo fails to score in Jets debut". The Newcastle Herald. Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  13. ^ Leonardo krijgt werkvergunning en tekent contract bij FC Eindhoven, ed.nl, 9 maart 2017
  14. ^ "Leonardo » Club matches". worldfootball.net. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  15. ^ Red Bull Salzburg are the 2011–12 champions Archived 12 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]