Substitutes who score winning goals are often said to be knocking hard on the coach's door, but Silvestre Varela is unlikely to be doing so figuratively or literally any time in the near future.
The 27-year-old, who secured Portugal's first win of UEFA EURO 2012 with his dramatic late strike against Denmark in Lviv, was modesty personified as he described the strike back at the squad's training base in Opalenica. "It was one of the best moments of my career," he said. "I always work hard so something like this can happen."
Varela, whose goal came three minutes after he replaced Raul Meireles, is happy to have contributed, though he accepts he will start on the bench again for the Group B match against Netherlands in Kharkiv on Sunday that will decide Portugal's fate.
"I'm always looking to help the team attain its objectives whether I play or not," he nodded. "It's up to the coach to choose and it's up to me to work. It's a great source of pride to be here and represent my country."
One obstacle to the winger's inclusion in the XI is the stature of the pair ahead of him. Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo occupy the wide positions in Paulo Bento's starting lineup, meaning the FC Porto man will continue to attempt to make an impact on the game in its closing stages.
"They're two world-class players and I expect them to continue," said Varela, who like the illustrious duo is a product of the Sporting Clube de Portugal youth academy.
Ahead of the match with Bert van Marwijk's charges the various scenarios in Group B offer up some potentially complex calculations – Portugal could theoretically lose and go through, or win and be eliminated – but Varela insists his side will not take their collective eye off the task in hand. "We intend to play our game, to try to win, and we'll do the sums at the end," he insisted.
The winger says that the last-day picture is no surprise given the strength of the competition. "It's a very even group, and I expect the game [against the Netherlands] to be the same," he said. If it goes to the wire, Varela will hope to make the difference once again.
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