Anderson began his career with Grêmio, joining the youth team before rising through the ranks. His goal against Náutico during the 2005 play-offs gained Grêmio promotion to the Brazilian Série A. Before the start of the 2005–06 season, Anderson moved to Porto, gaining first-team status during his two seasons with the club. There, he won the Primeira Liga twice, along with the Taça de Portugal and Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira during the 2005–06 season. Prior to the 2007–08 season, he joined Manchester United, with whom he won the Premier League four times, as well as the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League and the League Cup.
Anderson made his Brazil debut in 2007 during the 2007 Copa América, which they went on to win. He also played for the Brazil Olympic football team during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, helping them secure the Bronze medal.
Born in Porto Alegre, Anderson joined Grêmio as a youth player. He made his first appearance for the team on 23 October 2004 in a 3–1 loss to Internacional in the Brazilian Série A, in which he scored a goal from a free-kick. Grêmio, however, were relegated at the season's conclusion and Anderson followed the team to the Brazilian Série B.
It was reported in June 2005 that Portuguese group GestiFute had paid €5 million for 70% of the economic rights to Anderson. On 18 June 2005, Anderson was reported to have signed a pre-contract with Portuguese side Porto.
Anderson earned himself iconic status by scoring the goal that lifted Grêmio back into Serie A in a promotion playoff against Náutico in November 2005. This goal was particularly memorable because Grêmio only had seven players on the pitch at the time and had just seen the opposition have a penalty saved. The goal, scored 16 minutes into extra time, gave Grêmio a 1–0 victory in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Three months before his 18th birthday, Anderson officially joined Porto for a €7 million transfer fee in January 2006. As FIFA prohibits the international transfer of any underage players (subject to the exception that the player is moving to other countries to accompany their parents), Anderson's mother, Doralice de Oliveira, relocated to Portugal to facilitate his move abroad. Porto owned 65% of the economic rights, from which Porto would receive 65% of the future transfer fee of the player.
Anderson made his league debut for Porto on 5 March 2006, playing a part in helping the team seal the 2005–06 Primeira Liga title. In the 2006–07 season, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in Porto's first group game against CSKA Moscow. Anderson, however, was forced to miss five months of the season due to a broken leg, as a result of a tackle by Benfica midfielder Kostas Katsouranis. Despite his injury, he managed to appear in 15 games in the 2006–07 season, scoring two goals, and again picking up a league-winners' medal. In total, he made 21 starts for Porto in all competitions.
On 30 May 2007, the Manchester United website confirmed that the club had agreed in principle to sign Anderson from Porto for an undisclosed fee. The initial application for a work permit for Anderson was rejected on the ground that he did not have enough international caps. Manchester United subsequently argued that only his youth had prevented him from acquiring more caps and that, given his exceptional talent and the size of the transfer fee, clearance was justified. On 29 June 2007, he was granted a work permit to play in the United Kingdom, and the move was completed on 2 July, with Anderson signing a five-year contract to become United's second Brazilian player after Kléberson. The transfer fee Porto announced was €30 million, which was equivalent to around £20 million as of July 2007.
Anderson was friends with Portuguese-speaking new teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani prior to joining the club. He was handed the number 8 shirt, previously worn by Wayne Rooney, who changed to number 10, and made his Manchester United debut on 3 August 2007, playing 45 minutes of a pre-season friendly against Doncaster Rovers, which United won 2–0.
On 1 September 2007, Anderson made his competitive debut for United against Sunderland, before he was substituted at half-time and replaced by striker Louis Saha, who eventually scored the game winner. Anderson made his Champions League debut against Sporting Clube de Portugal in a 0–1 away win on 19 September, coming on as a substitute for Ryan Giggs in the 76th minute. On 26 September, Anderson made his League Cup debut, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2–0 loss to Coventry City, in a team consisting almost entirely of youth and reserve team players.
In the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow, Anderson was brought on as a substitute in the final minute of extra time to replace Wes Brown, and converted United's sixth attempt in the penalty shootout. United won the game 6–5 on penalties to give Anderson the first European honour of his career.
On 21 December 2008, Anderson played 88 minutes of the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup final against LDU Quito, which United won courtesy of a single Wayne Rooney goal, thus confirming them World champions. On 1 March 2009, Anderson came on in the 56th minute of the 2009 League Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur, replacing Danny Welbeck. He went on to score the winning penalty in the penalty shootout, winning his first League Cup medal. On 18 May, in the penultimate game of the season against Arsenal, United only needed one point to seal their third successive Premier League title and Anderson's second in two years at the club. Anderson was brought on for Wayne Rooney in the final minute, helping United lift the title at home to their fierce rivals.
Anderson scored his first goal for Manchester United in the Audi Cup friendly tournament against Boca Juniors on 29 July 2009. After United were awarded a free kick on the right side of the penalty area, Anderson stepped up and curled the ball into the far top corner of the goal with his left foot. On 12 September, Anderson went on to score his first competitive goal for Manchester United against Tottenham in his 78th appearance for the club. He latched onto a loose ball at the edge of the area and hammered the ball into the bottom right corner with his left foot, scoring United's second goal of a 1–3 league win at White Hart Lane. In January 2010, Anderson was believed to have returned home to Brazil without manager Sir Alex Ferguson's permission and fined £80,000 by Manchester United.
Anderson returned to the first-team for a match against West Ham United on 23 February, but after just 20 minutes of the match, Anderson ruptured the cruciate ligament in his left knee and had to be substituted by Park Ji-sung. He was later ruled out for the remainder of the season, as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, after analysis determined that he would be out for the next six months.
On 20 August 2010, Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that Anderson had returned to training after the combination of an injury and being involved in a serious car accident. He made his return to action in the 3–2 home victory over Liverpool as an 88th-minute substitute on 19 September. On 7 December, Anderson scored his first goal at Old Trafford and also first European goal for the club in a 1–1 draw with Valencia.
Anderson signed a new 4 1⁄2-year contract with United on 15 December, keeping him at the club until June 2015. Anderson doubled his United goal tally in one game as he scored twice in a 4–1 second leg semi-final home win over Schalke 04 in the Champions League. The game's aggregate score ended 6–1 to United and therefore reached the final for the third time in four years. In his next game, he scored only his second league goal for United, equalising against Blackpool on 22 May 2011, the final day of the league season, in a match that United went on to win 4–2.
Anderson started the season curtain-raiser, the 2011 FA Community Shield, which resulted in a 3–2 win over Manchester City. He also started the first three games, a 2–1 win against West Bromwich Albion, a 3–0 win against Tottenham Hotspur at home, where he scored his first goal of the season, and the 8–2 win against Arsenal, where he assisted on Danny Welbeck's opening goal.
Anderson scored his second goal of the season in a 2–0 home win against Norwich City in the Premier League. He broke the deadlock on 68 minutes, heading in from six yards after a corner had been knocked back across goal. During a match in the Champions League, Anderson injured his knee, ruling him out until February 2012. Anderson made a surprise return earlier than expected on 31 December 2011, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 3–2 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers. Further injuries led to Anderson, however, being sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Anderson returned in the 2012–13 season, setting an early highlight in the third round League Cup match against Newcastle United on 26 September in 2012, when he scored an excellent opener in a 2–1 victory. He carried his form into the next round of the League Cup on 31 October in a match against Chelsea. He managed to earn three assists in the 80 minutes he played whilst leaving the pitch with United winning 3–2, although they went on to lose 5–4 after extra time. He continued to impress when given the opportunity, and garnered praise for a substitute appearance in the 3–1 win over Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson stated that "Anderson changed the game".
On 1 December 2012, Anderson scored his first league goal of the season in a 4–3 victory away at Reading. Despite his excellent run of form, Anderson had picked a hamstring injury up in the match and was substituted just before half-time. On 30 January 2013, Anderson played 68 minutes on his return from injury in a 2–1 defeat of Southampton at Old Trafford.
On 19 May 2013, Anderson played the full 90 minutes in Sir Alex Ferguson's final match as Manchester United manager, a 5–5 draw with West Brom at The Hawthorns.
After falling out of favour under new Manchester United manager David Moyes, playing just eight games in the first half of the 2013–14 season, Anderson joined Italian club Fiorentina on loan on 18 January 2014 for the remainder of the season. During his five-month loan, Anderson only made seven appearances for Fiorentina, three of which were from the bench. At the end of the season, he returned to Manchester United.
Anderson was not part of the 25-man squad that flew to the US for United's pre-season tour, missing out because of a calf injury he sustained during training. Under new manager Louis van Gaal, Anderson was allocated the number 28 shirt, with Juan Mata having taken the number 8 upon signing in January 2014. His first appearance of the season came in a 4–0 loss at Milton Keynes Dons in the League Cup, where he played the full 90 minutes. After this, Anderson appeared in only one more game for Manchester United, a 0–0 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor. Anderson finally parted with Manchester United by making a switch to Internacional, on a free transfer, during the January transfer window.
On 3 February 2015, Anderson ended his 7 1⁄2-year association with Manchester United by signing with Brazilian side Internacional on a four-year deal. A statement on Internacional's website read, "Sport Club Internacional concluded on Tuesday the procedures to announce the signing of midfielder Anderson. He signs a four-year contract."
On his debut for Internacional, Anderson missed a penalty kick against Cruzeiro in the Campeonato Gaúcho. In his second match, a 3–1 defeat to The Strongest in the Copa Libertadores on 17 February, Anderson was substituted after 36 minutes and required an oxygen mask due to La Paz's Estadio Hernando Siles being 3.68 km above sea level.
On 1 April, Anderson was sent off in Inter's 1–1 draw with Ypiranga de Erechim.
On 10 May, Anderson made his first Campeonato Brasileiro appearance for Internacional in the team's opening game of the 2015 season; a 3–0 loss at Atlético Paranaense. He received his second red card for the club in a 1–3 home defeat to Atlético Mineiro on 5 July.
On 9 August, Anderson was substituted at half-time in a 5–0 defeat to his former club and Inter's Porto Alegre rivals Grêmio. He then received threats and insults from the club's fans at training on the following Monday and was dropped from Inter's starting line-up for their following ten league fixtures. He returned to the team in a 3–1 loss to Santos on 27 September and remained a regular starter as Inter finished fifth in the league.
In April 2005, Anderson played for Brazil in the South American under-17 Championship. The following October, he featured in the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship and he won the Golden Ball as Brazil took second place.
When Brazil were in danger of going out of the tournament after their opening game defeat against Gambia, Anderson helped to turn their fortunes around in the next match against the Netherlands. Anderson played well against the Dutch, contributing crosses and runs that aided his side. Anderson kept up his level of performance after that, scoring one goal and playing a key role in others, notably setting up Ramon for the first strike against Korea DPR in the quarter-final. After helping to lead Brazil into the final after a 4–3 semi-final victory over Turkey, Anderson lasted only 15 minutes of the final with Mexico before being stretchered off.
Anderson made his international debut for the Brazilian senior team on 27 June 2007 in their 2–0 loss against Mexico in the 2007 Copa América, coming on as a second-half substitute. He made his first start for Brazil on 1 July 2007 against Chile in a 3–0 victory.
In July 2008, Brazil coach Dunga named Anderson in the 18-man squad for the 2008 Summer Olympics. He scored Brazil's first goal in their second group match against New Zealand, a match they went on to win 5–0. On 22 August 2008, Brazil won the bronze medal as they defeated Belgium 3–0.As of match played 11 December 2016
Statistics accurate as of match played 31 December 2008GrêmioCampeonato Brasileiro Série B (1): 2005PortoPrimeira Liga (2): 2005–06, 2006–07Taça de Portugal (1): 2005–06Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira (1): 2006Manchester UnitedPremier League (4): 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2012–13League Cup (2): 2008–09, 2009–10FA Community Shield (2): 2011, 2013UEFA Champions League (1): 2007–08FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2008InternacionalCampeonato Gaúcho (1): 2015BrazilCopa América (1): 2007Olympic Bronze Medal: 2008FIFA U-17 World Cup Golden Ball (1): 2005Golden Boy (1): 2008
It was reported that Anderson was hospitalised after a serious car crash in Portugal on 31 July 2010. He had spent the night before at a nightclub before leaving in his Audi R8. The crash occurred at 7 am when the car came off the road and hit a farm wall before entering a field. Anderson was unconscious but was pulled from the car minutes before it exploded. Another man and a woman were also in the car. All three suffered minor injuries and were treated for whiplash, concussion and shock at a hospital. Anderson returned to United to continue his rehabilitation. Anderson refused to take a breathlyser test during the early hours in his native Porto Alegre and police forced his bodyguard to drive him home a week before his 24th birthday.
Anderson's father died at the age of 41, when Anderson was 14. He has three siblings and two daughters.