Couto in 2011
|Full name||Fernando Manuel Silva Couto|
|Date of birth||2 August 1969|
|Place of birth||Espinho, Portugal|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position(s)||Centre back|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
During a 21-year professional career he played in a number of top clubs in Portugal, Spain and Italy (12 seasons in the latter country), appearing in nearly 600 competitive matches and winning the double in each country, as well as three UEFA trophies.
Born in Espinho near Porto, Couto joined FC Porto's youth system at the age of 17. On 2 June 1988 he made his first-team - and Primeira Liga - debut, playing 90 minutes in a 1-0 away win against Académica de Coimbra in what would be his only appearance of the season for the national champions. He was then released, spending one year apiece with F.C. Famalicão and Académica.
Couto returned to Porto in 1990, being an instrumental defensive unit in the conquest of six titles during his four-year spell. He subsequently moved to Italy with Parma AC, scoring a career-best four goals in 27 games in his first season and adding the campaign's UEFA Cup, in a 2-1 aggregate victory over fellow Serie A side Juventus F.C..
In summer 1996, Couto signed a four-year deal with FC Barcelona, moving alongside former Porto teammate Vítor Baía and English manager Bobby Robson as Luís Figo was also playing for the La Liga club. Regularly used during his early stint, he was less played by the next coach Louis van Gaal, but managed to appear in one of the two European finals the Catalans won, the 1996-97 edition of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
After two seasons at the Camp Nou, Couto left Barça and joined Rome's S.S. Lazio in late June 1998 as teammate Iván de la Peña. He appeared in 22 matches in his first year to help his team to the second place in the league, and featured one minute in the final of the last Cup Winners' Cup, in a 2-1 win against RCD Mallorca at the Villa Park in Birmingham.
In 2001, Couto failed a doping test for the steroid nandrolone. He denied having taken forbidden substances, but his "B" test confirmed the finding and he eventually served four months out of a nine-month worldwide ban for the offence. He continued to appear regularly for Lazio in the following seasons.
In 2005, aged 36, Couto returned to Parma after 11 years as Lazio was unable to match his wage demands for a contract renewal. After two seasons of regular use he played just 17 matches in 2007-08, with the Emilia-Romagna side also suffering top-flight relegation; as his contract expired, he decided to retire from football.
In June 2010, two years after his retirement, Couto was named general manager at S.C. Braga. He was appointed the club's assistant manager for the 2012-13 campaign, leaving in February 2014.
As a member of Famalicão in the third division, Couto appeared in four matches as Portugal won the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship, being part of a group of players dubbed the "Golden Generation" of Portuguese football. He made his debut for the senior team on 19 December 1990, in a friendly with the United States played in Maia (1-0 win).
Always as first choice, Couto represented the nation at UEFA Euro 1996- scoring the game's only goal for the eventual quarter-finalists in a group stage fixture against Turkey- Euro 2000 and the 2002 FIFA World Cup, partnering former Porto teammate Jorge Costa in the last two tournaments, the latter of which ended in group stage exit.
Couto became the first Portuguese player to reach 100 caps (in a total of 110) on 11 October 2003, in a 5-3 friendly defeat of Albania. He was selected as captain for Euro 2004, which was played on home soil, starting in the first game against Greece but eventually being relegated to the bench by Ricardo Carvalho; Portugal went on to reach the final of the tournament, in which the team suffered a defeat against the same opponent.
Couto usually played as a centre-back in zonal-marking system during his time with Porto, where he earned a reputation for being a tough and physical defender, with an aggressive and hard-tackling playing style. He was also known for his ability in the air, as well as his capacity to start quick attacking plays after winning back the ball. During his time in Italy, he also adapted himself to different tactical systems; under his Parma manager Nevio Scala, he featured as a man-marking centre-back - or stopper - on occasion, or even as a sweeper behind the back-line.
|1||24 February 1993||Estádio das Antas, Porto, Portugal||Italy||1-2||1-3||1994 World Cup qualification|
|2||18 December 1994||Estádio da Luz (1954), Lisbon, Portugal||Liechtenstein||5-0||8-0||Euro 1996 qualifying|
|3||24 January 1996||Parc des Princes, Paris, France||France||0-1||3-2||Friendly|
|4||14 June 1996||City Ground, Nottingham, England||Turkey||1-0||1-0||UEFA Euro 1996|
|5||9 November 1996||Estádio das Antas, Porto, Portugal||Ukraine||1-0||1-0||1998 World Cup qualification|
|6||18 November 1998||Estádio do Bonfim, Setúbal, Portugal||Israel||1-0||2-0||Friendly|
|7||10 June 2003||Estádio Nacional, Lisbon, Portugal||Bolivia||2-0||4-0||Friendly|
|8||5 June 2004||Estádio do Bonfim, Setúbal, Portugal||Lithuania||1-0||4-1||Friendly|