As his Sevilla FC side prepare for a UEFA Europa League quarter-final against FC Porto, goalkeeper Beto expressed "mixed feelings" about facing his old team in Thursday's away first leg.
Beto was part of the Dragões' 2011 UEFA Europa League final success over SC Braga as back-up to No1 Helton in the Dublin showpiece, a role he fulfilled for two campaigns with the Portuguese giants. Now settled at Sevilla having arrived midway through last term via a loan spell at CFR 1907 Cluj and half a season with Braga, the six-time Portuguese international said he knew all along the Andalusians would draw Porto in the last eight.
"I said before the draw that we would meet them," Beto, 31, explained. "I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I'm happy because I will return to a club I can relate to a lot and for whom I have a lot of respect and love. But on the other hand I didn't want to face them because they are a very tough opponent."
Needing a keeper following Diego López's departure for Real Madrid CF to cover the injured Iker Casillas in early 2013, Sevilla drafted the former Sporting Clube de Portugal and Leixões SC custodian, initially on loan from Braga. The move was made permanent last summer and, now approaching a half-century of Liga appearances, Beto has become a crowd favourite at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.
His decisive and climactic save from Nono's sudden-death penalty in the round of 16 shoot-out victory at city rivals Real Betis Balompié on 20 March, followed by a towering display during last week's Liga home win over Madrid, have further enhanced the No13's reputation.
"I'm so proud to be part of this team," the Lisbon-born player said. "I'm happy for myself, for Sevilla, for my team-mates – even my mother, my father and my son!" Of his side's dramatic recovery from a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Betis, he added: "We were at a serious disadvantage going into the second game but just when everyone doubted us, we gave the appropriate response. This team has a lot of heart."
So although Porto ousted Sevilla at the last-32 stage en route to their 2011 UEFA Europa League triumph, they should be wary of Unai Emery's team, who over the past month racked up six straight Liga wins to threaten the top four. "This will be a very even tie – it won't be easy for us or for Porto," Beto said. "They are not having a normal season by their standards but they are a great club and we will need to be very careful."
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