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Opponents heap praise on 'futsal's Messi': Ricardinho

"The Leo Messi of futsal", "from another galaxy", scorer of "the most beautiful goal of the century" – why Portugal hero Ricardinho is so special from those who know better than most.

Ricardinho soaks up the applause in Belgrade
Ricardinho soaks up the applause in Belgrade ©Sportsfile

Ricardinho may be out of UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 with Portugal's elimination but he has undoubtably been the star of the show.

A hat-trick against Slovenia followed by an unbelievable goal versus Serbia that had the home fans applauding was capped off by another stunner in the loss to Spain. The Arena Belgrade chanted his name for minutes and with six goals he leads the Golden Shoe race. We asked his opponents for their thoughts on the 30-year-old Inter FS winger.

Tino Pérez, Azerbaijan coach
He's magical. He has something that nobody else has and is showing it with unbelievable regularity. I've known him for a long time and the geniality was always there but now he always delivers no matter how big the occasion is. He became an even better player the moment he joined Inter. All we need to do is to enjoy and savour what he does out there.

Franko Jelovčić, Croatia star
For me he is the Leo Messi of futsal. When at his feet, the ball gets another dimension and sometimes everybody else looks like an amateur if he's playing. His goal against Serbia showed everything about him. Our sport will need a long, long time to find another player like him with such technical ability.

Ricardinho's stunner against Serbia

Cacau, Kazakhstan & Kairat Almaty coach
I am Brazilian but I have to say that not even [Brazil great] Falcão has ever scored a goal like the one Ricardinho scored against Serbia. It was the most beautiful goal of the century. I had never before witnessed more than 11,000 spectators booing the opponents and all of a sudden applauding a player from that same team after he scored. He's the best player in the world – end of discussion.

José Venancio López, Spain coach
He is from another galaxy. He has showed that not only here, winning the love and admiration of all, but in every single competition he plays. He makes our sport greater and he's always thinking about ways to help futsal to grow even more. He is, without a doubt, the best player in the world and an amazing human being.

Ricardinho's stunner against Spain

Higuita, Kazakhstan goalkeeper
The best word to describe is perhaps 'different'. One thing is for sure: there's nobody else like him. He gains the fans' and even his opponents' respect and admiration with his charisma and humility. Each dribble that he performs or new play he comes up with … just leaves with us huge smiles on our faces and a look of amazement.

Arnaldo, Portugal captain
When the best player in the world does what Ricardinho did here in Belgrade all you can do is applaud him. There are simply no words to describe what he does on the pitch. Against Serbia he had already scored an impossible goal and against Spain he did it again. But you should see what he does in training ...

Ricardinho's superb hat-trick

Pola, Spain & Inter FS player
I'm privileged because I see on a daily basis what Ricardinho does every time he trains or plays. At Inter we are thankful for being able to count with the best player in the world. But I prefer to highlight his personality, his humble spirit and his work ethic. He is the kind of player who never settles – he always wants more. From now on there will be a before and after in the history of UEFA Futsal EURO.

Robinho, Russia player
In my humble opinion he is the best player in the world. They call him the Magician for a reason. He is the legitimate heir to Falcão and he deserves all the praise he is receiving at the moment. Who else who would come up with a goal like that against Serbia?

The quarter-final against Spain

Fortino, Italy player
Everybody knows that Ricardinho is the best player in the world. He can decide a match on his own at any moment. He's a phenomenon – a joy to watch. The image of an entire arena applauding an opponent will remain with me forever.

Javier Lozano, former Spain coach
He has a very rare characteristic: he executes plays with the same speed he thinks about it. His brain gives the order and his legs immediately respond. We are not talking about a player, but an ambassador for futsal. He is also a perfect example of what a great player should be and represent. Whenever his club plays he stays on the pitch for an hour after the match signing autographs and taking pictures with the fans. That is just priceless. That is pure magic.

Mustapha Achrifi, Norway captain (faced Ricardinho in FIFA Futsal World Cup qualifying)
Before the match I went on YouTube to watch some of his tricks and before kick-off I was just thinking: 'Please don't do that against me.' He did … He is simply out of this world. One day I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I played against Ricardinho.