If Legia Warszawa supporters discern an immediate understanding between summer signings Hélio Pinto and Dosa Júnior, they should not be surprised.
The pair, recent recruits from clubs in Cyprus, may never have played together before making their debuts against Welsh champions The New Saints FC last week but they certainly needed no introduction – not when Hélio Pinto is married to Dosa Júnior's sister Leila. As Hélio Pinto jokes: "I've known Dosa for a long time and I am grateful to him because he had no objection when I started to date his sister!"
That family connection has now transferred to the football field after Hélio Pinto arrived in Poland from APOEL FC and his brother-in-law from AEL Limassol FC. "For many years we dreamed of playing together," adds the Portuguese midfielder, speaking to UEFA.com. "Unfortunately, it did not happen in Cyprus, but we finally realised it here in Warsaw."
In Cyprus they certainly played against each other many times. Hélio Pinto, 29, spent eight campaigns on the island – the first at Apollon Limassol FC before he moved to APOEL for seven successful seasons, the highlight of which was helping the club reach the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
In the meantime, he had helped Dosa Júnior get settled in Cyprus too – first at Dighenis Morphou FC, then AEP Paphos FC and finally AEL, where during a four-year spell he established a reputation as one of the best defenders in the domestic league. He even acquired a Cypriot passport and, with it, a place in the national team.
Dosa Júnior's physical power also earned him the nickname 'King Kong' in Limassol – "I am much more handsome," jokes the 26-year-old Portuguese native – but now he intends to make his presence felt in Poland. Having his brother-in-law alongside him can only help. "Before I took the final decision, Hélio was already a Legia player and of course it mattered to me," he admits. "Legia are an ambitious club with a fantastic stadium and amazing fans so all these factors convinced me to come."
Legia's ambition is to play UEFA Champions League football and they go into today's second qualifying round second leg against TNS with a 3-1 first-leg advantage – and their confidence further boosted by a 5-1 home win over RTS Widzew Łódź in their opening Ekstraklasa fixture last Saturday.
Hélio Pinto would love to savour UEFA Champions League football again with his new club. "I played twice in the Champions League and it is an unforgettable experience," he says. "I want to taste it again and hope to have this opportunity with Legia.
"Thanks to APOEL I had the chance to play against big teams like Chelsea, Porto and Real Madrid. Our second campaign, 2011/12, was such a success, reaching the quarter-finals before losing against Real. I've brought this experience to Legia and believe I can get to the group stage with them," adds Hélio Pinto, whose new team will encounter Norway's Molde FK in the third qualifying round, if victorious against TNS.
Asked to compare Legia with that trailblazing APOEL side, he is hopeful that coach Jan Urban's youthful squad are ready to flourish. "That APOEL team had more experience. The majority of the players were in their prime – at 27 or 28. Here I think the team is younger but I can see lots of talented players and would like to help them to explode." TNS should be warned they could be facing a team with TNT in their boots tonight in Warsaw.
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