Free-scoring Joel Queirós played a crucial role in SL Benfica's UEFA Futsal Cup win last year and as they prepare to begin this season's finals in Almaty he spoke to UEFA.com.
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Joel Queirós was the top scorer in last season's UEFA Futsal Cup – and it paid dividends as his club SL Benfica lifted the trophy on home territory. Joel struck in the 3-2 extra-time final defeat of Interviú Madrid and from Friday will aim to do it again as Benfica return to the showpiece, facing ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 in the last four in Almaty. The 28-year-old Portuguese international spoke to UEFA.com about last year's achievements and this season's ambitions.
UEFA.com: How did you get into the game?
Joel Queirós: I started to play futsal after being invited by friends. They knew that I had quit playing football and asked me to join their team. I accepted and I liked it. I have been playing futsal ever since. Apart from scoring goals there is a natural pleasure playing futsal as it is a sport where emotions are very intense due to the speed of the match. In a futsal game there is emotions right until the last second as the match is never won until then.
UEFA.com: What was it like to score in the final last season?
Joel: To score a goal is a wonderful feeling and to score in the UEFA Futsal final is doubly so. It was an important goal because we were a goal behind it put us in the game again. Lifting the trophy was the best sensation I have had in my sporting career to date. It was the accomplishment of my greatest futsal dream, to win the UEFA Futsal Cup.
UEFA.com: You won last season playing at home. How crucial was it to play in front of your fans?
Joel: It was our greatest weapon last year. It was a plus having around 10,000 fans supporting us against a team like Interviú. Of course it is an advantage to play at home but a competition like the UEFA Futsal Cup is always hard, wether you play at home or away as the four teams in the final stage are very strong.
UEFA.com: You played for ElPozo Murcia FS before coming to Benfica. What did you learn from your time in Spain?
Joel: In Spain I played for Murcia and MRA Navarra. To play in the Spanish league was another dream fulfilled as I played with some of the best futsal players. I've learned lots of things with them as they are very detailed in their work. I become a better player tactically. I think the Spanish league is still the best in Europe.
UEFA.com: How do you assess Benfica's chances of retaining the trophy?
Joel: The fact that we won the competition last year will not give us any advantage. I think the four teams have the same chance of winning. It was already hard to reach the finals as we had to eliminate very powerful teams.
UEFA.com: You could end up facing Sporting Clube de Portugal in the final. That says a lot about the strength of futsal in Portugal...
Joel: Portuguese futsal continues to evolve. The results speak for themselves. We won the UEFA Futsal Cup at club level and we had a good UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 with the national team.
UEFA.com: Ricardinho left the club ahead of this season but you still managed to qualify for the finals. How did the team deal with his departure?
Joel: Ricardinho is a wonderful player and he was decisive in last season's titles. In my opinion Benfica were very good in the transfer market as we still have an excellent squad with a very strong team.
UEFA.com: Have you had to take on more responsibility since he left?
Joel: No. I still have the same responsibilities. I am just one more player in the squad to help the club and who tries to do what the coach asks in order to achieve the club's goals at the end of the season.
UEFA.com: Explain a bit what the rivalry with Sporting is like?
Joel: In sport the rivalry is made by the fans. For the players is always special playing a match against Sporting – home or away – as the arenas are always full. However we cannot think anything more than winning the matches.
UEFA.com: What is it like to have them here in the finals?
Joel: Primarily, it shows the strength of Portuguese futsal. Apart from that they are one more powerful team which is enjoying a great time. If we play against them we will try to win to accomplish one of the goals we have set for the season.