Portugal's Ricardinho backs Women's Futsal EURO
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Ricardinho remembers lifting the men's title for Portugal last year and says of the new women's finals: "We should all support it."
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"There is no better memory than that – those ten or 20 seconds when you lift that trophy and look around and see that you've finally managed to touch the sky."
Ricardinho realised a dream when he captained Portugal to their first UEFA Futsal EURO title in Ljubljana last year, and now hopes to offer his female counterparts a tantalising taste of how it feels to conquer a continent as they prepare to host the inaugural UEFA Women's Futsal EURO from Friday.
Having had to sit out the end of extra time in the 2018 final injured, he remembers "being able to look around and see my team-mates in tears. The tears were running down my face too". Yet Ricardinho's EURO memories go back much further, to 2007 in fact and his first final tournament, staged like the first women's showpiece in Gondomar, close to his riverside home town of Valbom.
"There are some great memories of my first European tournament, at home, close to my family, with all my friends watching," he says. "We didn't achieve our main aim but to play in the semi-final against the champions, Spain, and against Russia in the third-place match and to be nominated as best player in Europe was fantastic."
Against Spain, his acrobatic volley gave Portugal a two-goal lead yet they ended up losing on penalties after a 2-2 draw. "It was the mighty Spain, so when we went 2-0 up, it was crazy," he recalls. "We weren't able to think about anything other than playing in the final but really, our big final was that match. We'd been so happy, then suddenly we lost all our self-confidence."
According to Ricardinho, "Gondomar lives and breathes futsal" and he still remembers the packed arena where "the crowd were waving Portugal flags, chanting and singing the national anthem. I'm sure it'll happen again, but unfortunately I won't be a part of it – I'll be in the stand supporting. This is the first big European women's futsal tournament. We should all support it."
And Portugal’s chances? "I'd love them to win it so they can feel some of what, let's say, we'd have felt if we'd won the men's Futsal EURO in Gondomar," he says. He cites the talents of players like Fifó, Ana Catarina and Jenny but believes any success will be down to the collective. "It's better for them to focus on being a group because one player might win a match but it's the team that wins a title." Spoken like a man in the know.
This interview features in the official tournament programme: download it now