One of the Union's most creative and most popular players of all time, Kléberson, has returned to the team to take a coaching role with the youth academy.
Now 38, he has called time on a playing career that took him from winning the 2002 World Cup to Manchester United, and later a series of stops in the United States.
The Brazilian midfielder came here at first early in the 2013 season, as part of a package deal with Brazilian club Bahia that allowed the Union to get rid of Freddy Adu. Kléberson's tenure here lasted only through that season, and it wasn't always smooth. He played only 11 games that season, with just seven starts. But he remains known to this day for scoring one of the team's all-time great goals, a dramatic, game-winning free kick against Toronto FC late in the season.
"For kids in our academy to now have the opportunity to look up to [him] is special – a world-class player that's won a World Cup, that has played at the highest level for Manchester United," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "It's really cool to see the smiling faces look up and see a guy that they can really learn from."
Curtin said Kléberson reached out to the Union's academy at YSC Sports in Wayne over the winter to inquire about potential opportunities. Kléberson had been in Florida since joining the second-tier North American Soccer League's Fort Lauderdale Strikers at the start of 2016; he spent the time between then and his departure from the Union with the NASL's Indy Eleven.
While in Florida, Kléberson started working with a local youth soccer organization, as he worked toward earning coaching badges from the Brazilian federation. As one step in the process was to spend time with a professional team, he visited the Union's preseason training in Clearwater for a week. That planted the seeds for his eventual return to the organization.