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2007: Ricardinho

Hosts Portugal reached their first semi-final in 2007 and their key man was one of the youngest players in the tournament.
by Paul Saffer
2007: Ricardinho
Ricardinho hit the heights in 2007 ©Sportsfile

2007: Ricardinho

Hosts Portugal reached their first semi-final in 2007 and their key man was one of the youngest players in the tournament.

Spain retained the UEFA European Futsal Championship title in Porto in 2007 but hosts Portugal reached their first semi-final in the competition and their key man was one of the youngest players in the tournament, the 22-year-old Ricardinho, who emerged as one of the new stars of the game.

Still a teenager, Ricardo Filipe Da Silva Braga appeared on the international scene in 2004, helping SL Benfica to the UEFA Futsal Cup final. The 2007 European Championship, though, was his first final tournament, and he remained on the pitch for Portugal through most of the 40 minutes in all their games.

After an opening 0-0 draw with Italy, Portugal were one down to the Czech Republic before Ricardinho equalised in a 5-3 win and in the last Group A game he was dominant, scoring twice in a 3-0 defeat of Romania. Spain awaited in the semi-finals and with five minutes left Ricardinho made it 2-0 to Portugal with a stunning bicycle kick. The holders came back to 2-2 and although Ricardinho converted in the shoot-out, Portugal lost, but he was now one of the most sought-after players in Europe.

©Sportsfile

Ricardinho in 2016

Ricardinho initially opted to stay in Portugal despite reported offers from the likes of FC Dynamo and Inter FS, and he also set up a children's futsal school. After inspiring Benfica to victory in the 2010 UEFA Futsal Cup he did move aborad to Nagoya Oceans, winning two Japanese titles, with a spell at CSKA Moskva. Back at Benfica on loan in 2011/12, winning his fourth Portuguese double, Ricardinho went to Inter in 2013, claiming Liga titles in his first two seasons there.

His wait for a major title with Portugal goes on but at UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 in Belgrade he proved his star quality beyond all doubt with spectacular goals against Serbia and Spain that were the talk well beyond the futsal community.

Ricardinho v Serbia in 2016: the goal that went viral

Last updated: 07/03/16 17.29CET

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