In his country, he represented most notably Vitória de Guimarães, also playing one year with Benfica. After a lengthy spell in Germany with Stuttgart, he went on to appear for teams in Turkey, Russia and Spain.
A strong and skillful defender, Meira played more than 50 times with the Portugal national team, being part of the squads in one World Cup and one European Championship.
Born in Guimarães, Meira began his professional career with hometown's Vitória Sport Clube, but only had one solid season with its first team, in 1999–2000 (precisely his last), as he appeared in 30 of his 53 games with the Minho side. In 1998 he was also loaned, to F.C. Felgueiras in the second division, being an essential defensive unit as they narrowly missed out on promotion after finishing fifth.
In the summer of 2000, Meira joined Primeira Liga giants S.L. Benfica for a €4 million transfer fee plus one player. He played 31 matches in his first season – 30 starts – and was also awarded team captaincy, but the Lisbon club did not win any silverware during his stint.
In January 2002, Meira signed for VfB Stuttgart in Germany for €7.5 million – it was the Bundesliga club's record transfer fee until July 2007, when they signed Ciprian Marica from FC Shakhtar Donetsk for €8 million, and general manager Rolf Rüssmann described the player as a "trophy" signing, showing great ambitions for the future. He made his league debut on the 26th in a 3–0 home win over Hamburger SV, playing the entire game as a stopper.
On 23 February 2002, Meira scored his first goal for Stuttgart, in a 1–1 draw at F.C. Hansa Rostock where he also conceded a penalty which resulted in the opponents' goal. His second came on 7 April in a 2–0 away victory over SC Freiburg, and he finished his first year with 14 league appearances to help his side finish in eighth position.
In the 2002–03 season, Felix Magath fielded Meira in 31 league games, and only a suspension prevented him from featuring in all 34 as Stuttgart finished second behind FC Bayern Munich to achieve qualification honours to the UEFA Champions League. He missed two UEFA Cup matches, including the home defeat against Celtic in the fourth round's first leg, and found the net in the second round's 2–0 home win against Ferencvárosi TC.
For the 2006–07 campaign, Meira was named captain by manager Armin Veh, making him the first Portuguese captain ever in the Bundesliga. He appeared in 20 matches and added three goals as the Baden-Württemberg club was crowned national champions for the first in 15 years, adding four in the runner-up campaign in the DFB-Pokal.
During his six-and-a-half-year spell with Stuttgart, Meira made 230 official appearances and scored 13 goals. He left the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion in the 2008 summer, aged 30.
On 20 July 2008, at the end of the 2007–08 season, Stuttgart stripped Meira of the team captaincy and announced their intention to sell the player. Two days later he signed a four-year contract with Galatasaray SK in Turkey, for €4.5 million.
Meira made his official team debut in the season's Turkish Super Cup, a 2–1 win victory against Kayserispor, but left Istanbul at the end of the campaign, with his team only ranking in fifth position in the Süper Lig.
In mid-March 2009, after reported interest from FC Zenit Saint Petersburg as the player grew unsettled at Galatasaray, Meira signed for the Russian club for €4.5 million, being awarded the number 3 shirt previously worn by Martin Škrtel.
He made his Russian Premier League debut on 15 March 2009, starting in a 1–1 draw against FC Spartak Moscow. On 5 April he netted his first goal for his new team, in a 3–0 win over FC Tom Tomsk.
On 15 August 2011, aged 33, Meira signed with Real Zaragoza in Spain, after mutually terminating his contract with Zenit. He made his official debut 13 days later, starting and being booked in a 0–6 home loss against Real Madrid.
In his spell with the Aragonese, Meira featured almost exclusively as a defensive midfielder, partnering Leonardo Ponzio. He terminated his contract on 1 February 2012, with the side ranking last in the league; late into the year, not being able to find a new club, he retired from football.
After having earned 20 caps for the under-21s, Meira made his full debut for Portugal in 2000. In 2004 he played in three games at the Summer Olympic Games, in an eventual group stage exit.
Meira was selected for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany: benefitting from injury to Jorge Andrade, he played in all of Portugal's seven contests in the tournament as the national team finished fourth. He continued to be a regular fixture at UEFA Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, appearing in three group stage matches but missing the quarter-final clash against Germany, a 2–3 loss.Stuttgart
DFB-Pokal: Runner-up 2006–07
DFB-Ligapokal: Runner-up 2005
Turkish Super Cup: 2008
Russian Premier League: 2010
Russian Cup: 2009–10
Russian Super Cup: 2011
Medal of Merit, Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa (House of Braganza)