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.
Ricardinho opted to stay in Portugal despite reported offers from the likes of MFK Dinamo Moskva and Interviú Madrid, and he also set up a children's futsal school. Indeed, after Benfica's latest league triumph in 2008/09 he signed a five-year contract, and if Portugal are to succeed in 2010, Ricardinho is the key.
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