Ricardinho looks back at his career as part of UEFA.tv's futsal documentary series Think Fast.
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Few if any players have defined futsal as much as Ricardinho, and UEFA's new documentary Think Fast explores his career and what he means to the sport and its players.
Think Fast, available to watch now free on UEFA.tv, is an in-depth look at futsal and its appeal. At its centre is a focus on Ricardinho, who in a stellar career has won UEFA Futsal Cup titles with Benfica and Inter FS, and further club honours in Japan and France. He now plays in Indonesia for Pendekar United.
At national-team level he played for Portugal between 2003 and 2021, winning 187 caps and scoring 141 goals. But it was the mixture of outrageous skill – that earned him the nickname O Magico (the Magician) – hard work and will to win that made him a star who transcended the sport, with a collection of spectacular goals and world player awards to match.
It seemed, though, international honours with Portugal would elude Ricardinho until, at the age of 32, he captained them to victory at UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 in Slovenia. He then recovered from serious injury to be part of Portugal's 2021 FIFA Futsal Word Cup success, lifting the trophy in Lithuania in his last match before announcing international retirement.
Based around a new interview with Ricardinho, and the thoughts of coaches and team-mates including Jorge Braz, João Matos and Zicky, Think Fast explores O Magico's career – from being rejected as a footballer aged 13 due to his short stature, how coach Carolina Silva sparked his love of futsal, what has driven him to success, his memories of the key moments that made his name and his thoughts on the future of the sport.
Ricardinho on futsal: "When I saw the intensity of a futsal game, having contact with the ball almost all the time, being able to dribble every five, ten seconds, being able to score a goal in a second, this made me fall in love with the sport."
Ricardinho on his moments of magic: "A lot of the things I do are improvised. They are not things I train. I think, I visualise, but I don't decide the moment, I don't choose to run into that player, at that time. No, I have the option to do it, and when the moment comes my brain tells me to go through with it. So that's why I fell in love with this sport so much, because it has a lot to do with improvisation."
Ricardinho on the EURO 2016 goal against Serbia that went viral: "I just thought, put the ball in the goal! In the moment I didn't see the amazing goal, I just saw it when I went back to the hotel and I have my social media logins because I went from 100,000 followers to 1,000,000 almost directly. Videos, football players writing to me. Everything! So I said to myself, 'I don't know what I did but I need to see it,' and when I saw the goal again, it's the best goal of my life for sure."
Ricardinho on evolving to become more of a team player: "I was very egoistic, I thought too much of myself. I wanted to score goals, I wanted to dribble everyone, I thought I was Rico the Machine, but I reached a point where I understood that futsal is a team sport. It has individual moments, it has moments when you can decide, when you play an important role in deciding, but it doesn't necessarily have to be through dribbling a player and scoring a goal. You can decide with a pass, with a movement, or you can decide by supporting your team-mate."
Ricardinho on recovering from injury to be at the 2021 World Cup: "I forgot everything else, the family stayed behind, the children at some point stayed behind, my focus was entirely on the World Cup. I was obsessed with making it to that World Cup and being able to help. I managed to make it and was able to help and finish with the trophy in my hands. It was the best experience of my life."
Ricardinho on his future plans: "Futsal gave me so much, it made me the person I am, the athlete I am, and now what I want to do is try to give something back to futsal. I don't want to live off futsal, I want to live for futsal. I would love to share all this knowledge that I learned with young people, and the sooner the better, because I had to make mistakes until I was 23 or 24."
Where to watch Think Fast
Hear more from and about Ricardinho in Think Fast, free to view on UEFA.tv. The platform is available on PlayStation (PS4 and PS5), Hisense VIDAA Smart TVs, Android and iOS (mobile and tablet), Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV as well as on web (www.uefa.tv).