Jose Fonte

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Jose Fonte is a Portuguese central defender who was born 22nd December 1983. Fonte comes from a bit of a footballing family. His father Arthur was a former player, as is his brother Rui Fonte. Rui was on the books at Arsenal before later joining older brother Jose at Crystal Palace

Fonte began his career at Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon. He was a regular for the clubs B team but failed to make an appearance for the senior side. Fonte left The Lions in 2004 for S.C. Salgueiros. Fonte's spell at the Paranhos club was short lived however, as Salgueiros folded shortly after. Fonte was then picked up by lower league F.C. Felgueiras where he played 28 games. In 2005 Fonte moved to top flight Vitoria Setubal. During this time Fonte lined up for the club in the UEFA Cup against Sampdoria. His performances at Setubal got him noticed by the mighty Benfica who snapped him up in 2006. Fonte was immediately loaned out however, firstly to Pacos Ferreira and later Estrela Amadora. In 2007 Fonte attracted interest from a number of clubs outside Portugal, including Premiership Fulham, who wanted to take him on trial. Fonte rejected the offer however, believing he was too good to be offered just a trial. Fonte did eventually end up in England however, moving to Championship side Crystal Palace on loan for a year with a view to a permanent deal.

Fonte made his Crystal Palace debut in the Carling Cup away at Bristol Rovers. He would initially find his first team opportunities limited, but after a spate of injuries at Selhurst Park, the young defender broke into the first team and immediately impressed with some very composed performances at the back, filling the rest of the team with confidence. Fonte scored his first goal for Palace in a televised game at Stoke in April 2008, a cracking shot from the edge of the area. After an impressive first season, Fonte signed a permanent deal at Palace in the summer of 2008, penning a three year contract. During the 2008/09 season Fonte was at the heart of the defence for most of the season, playing 38 league matches in all. He was soon generally regarded as one of the division's top defenders. Fonte's top form continued into 2009/10. In January 2010 he dropped down a division to League One outfit Southampton. Crystal Palace were in major financial trouble and desperate to sell. Saints were the first team to come up with the cash for Fonte, paying a fee believed to be around £1.2m.

Fonte made his Southampton debut away at Millwall on January 16th 2010 and put in a very assured performance at the back. It was clear Fonte was a massive upgrade compared to Neal Trotman, who had been on loan earlier in the season, as well as all the other players competing in his position. Fonte's second game for the club was the first leg of the Football League Trophy Southern Final, where he put in another superb performance to keep out MK Dons. It soon became apparent to Saints fans that Fonte was far too good for League 1, with the Portuguese defender became a fans favourite within weeks of joining. As well as being a fantastic defender, Fonte was a big threat at the other end of the pitch at set pieces. He scored his first goal for Southampton in a 4-0 hammering of Bristol Rovers in August 2010. Fonte was without doubt one of the club's most consistent players and his form during the 2010/11 season was just as good as his efforts the previous campaign. He was named in the PFA League 1 team of the year for 2010/11 on April 17th 2011. Fonte scored a priceless late winner at Brighton on April 23rd and another goal against Hartlepool two days later, which helped the club secure promotion back to The Championship. He was voted player of the year by fans in May 2011.

Fonte had a bit of an up and down 2011/12 season. He put in a fine display against Leicester on 27th August, making a number of well timed sliding tackles, but was below par in other early matches. He was surprisingly outshone at times by his defensive partner Dan Seaborne. Later in the campaign he formed a good on-pitch relationship with fellow centre-half Jos Hooiveld. Fonte's slip up against West Ham nearly cost Saints a goal in a 1-0 win on October 18th. Fortunately his form would get better. After competing against former club Crystal Palace on Boxing Day Fonte was ruled out for a month. When he returned he was back to his best. Fonte was superb throughout February and most of March. His decision making was spot on, and he helped Saints to a number of clean sheets. He was disappointing in the 3-0 loss at Blackpool on March 31st, and also gave away goals against Reading and Middlesbrough in the promotion run-in. Fonte saved his best until last. He scored and set up another in the 4-0 win over Coventry on the final day. The Portuguese had signed a contract until 2015 back in December 2011.

Fonte continued to perform below par at the start of the 2012/13 Premier League campaign. He did ok on the opening day at Man City, but was all over the place in games against Manchester United and Arsenal. He looked to have turned the corner with a double against Fulham, but was then involved in some shambolic defending at West Ham on October 20th. A steady improvement soon after was helped by a better team structure. Fonte looked very assured in November and December 2012. His injury in the 5-1 defeat against Chelsea could hardly have come at a worse time. Fonte was ruled out for two months. He made a slightly disappointing return in the 2-1 home defeat to QPR. He looked better at Norwich a week later, but dropped to the bench soon after. He played a blinder after coming on against Liverpool on March 16th. Fonte returned to the starting line-up at Tottenham in May, where he was unlucky to be on the losing side. Solid in the last two games against Sunderland and Stoke. The Portuguese overcame a difficult period and managed to hold his own in the top flight.

Fonte struck up a great relationship with defensive partner Dejan Lovren from the off during 2013/14, helping Saints to some excellent early performances. The team conceded fewer goals than most during the first three months of the season, and while Lovren grabbed most of the headlines, Fonte was almost just as impressive. He rescued a point against Sunderland in the first home game of the campaign, and made a vital last ditch interception in the win at Anfield. Fonte's distribution could have been better at times, but he was always well positioned and worked as hard as anyone else in the team. He provided an assist in the unusual role of flying wing-back in the defeat to Aston Villa in early December. Saints looked weak at the back without Fonte in matches with Newcastle and Tottenham. He suffered a black eye at the hands of Dani Osvaldo on the training ground, but responded perfectly with a goal in the 2-2 draw against Arsenal on January 28th. Fonte also scored the winner at Hull in February 2014. He made a couple of mistakes late on against Liverpool on March 1st in an otherwise resolute display. He gave away a goal against Norwich later in the same month, but was impressive late in the season in matches with Newcastle and Everton.