#Finland #opportunity #football
Beto Pimparel’s curriculum speaks for himself. During his professional career, the Portuguese international goalkeeper won 14 trophies, including four UEFA Europa Leagues and on UEFA Nations League.
Currently playing for Helsingfors IFK (Finland), the former goalkeeper of Sevilla FC, FC Porto, Sporting CP, and Goztepe analyzes his faltering journey in the football world in this latest edition of Soccer HUB Talks, moderated by Nuno Milheiro.
Despite the numerous trophies, Beto considers that the respect he has earned through his successful career is his most meaningful medal. “The biggest trophy I have ever achieved is to be a role model to kids who want to reach the highest level of football. All the titles I have won and all the clubs I represented were important, but having so many fathers and mothers sending me messages, saying that to me in the streets, in Portugal, Spain, Turkey, or here… It also comes from the passion I have for football. More than my performances, I think people feel me, my character, passion, and way of playing”, he admitted.
His long-lasting passion for football is undoubtedly crucial to continue playing at the highest level at 40. “I have a real passion for what I do. Five or six months passed after the end of last season, so I had to organize my head and family. After two or three months, my wife told me «You are not okay. This is not you. You need football. You need to play. You are still fit to play. You need this». At that moment, I just said to myself “I need to wake up and go to training. I feel alive when I am in the field. That is my biggest passion – and Formula 1. It is the way that I live football that brought me to Finland. I did not know anything about Scandinavian football. All the people ask me «What are you doing in Finland?» and I just say «I am living a different experience»”.
During his formative process, Beto started out as a winger, but he quickly understood that the goal was his sweet spot. “I was small and a bit fat. I was good with the feet and had technique, but my coach in a training session once said «You are good with the feet, but you do not move. You cannot be a winger if you do not run. I will try to put you on the goal». Since the first training I went to the goal, I felt something different and special. Goalkeepers are the only guys playing differently and wearing different clothes. We also follow different rules. Having this passion for goalkeeping is not normal for a seven-year-old kid. When you are a kid, you want to touch the ball, run, be on the confusion, etc. Initially, it was a bit boring, but I felt so special to be there, fly, save, play with the feet, hands and head… I could do and use everything inside the area”.
Recognizing that his career has had its ups and downs, the Portuguese international goalkeeper has always shown a relentless desire to feel a sense of accomplishment in all the challenges he has experienced.
33 years playing is a lot. The most important thing is that I am 40 and feel like I am seven.
“I made all my formative process in Sporting CP, one of the best academies in the world. I have played for 11 years there. When my contract was expiring, they loaned me to a second league club in Portugal, GD Chaves. I did not play that much as I suffered from this syndrome of being a player inside a big team. Going to the second league was a bit of a chock for me. I had difficulties adapting to that reality. After this year, my contract finished, and nobody said anything to me, so I assumed my Sporting CP journey was finished. The goalkeeper coach Hugo Oliveira said, «Let’s bring this guy to FC Marco», another Portuguese second league club. «This guy needs an opportunity to go up again» he said. Since then, my career started to go up. I went to Leixões SC and played in the first league. I had amazing performances and went to FC Porto, signing a four-year contract. Since I was not playing as much as I wanted, I asked the club to leave. In the beginning, it was hard for me to leave FC Porto because at that time, Antero Henrique, sports director, and Pinto da Costa, the president, did not want me to leave. They liked my charisma and my personality. They said «You are very important here in the dressing room, for the team and the fans. If you leave, it is going to be difficult». I needed to feel happy, and I did not want to be on the streets just saying that I wear FC Porto’s clothes, so I went to Romania – a crazy decision. The coach was also Portuguese: Jorge Costa, a former captain of the Portuguese National team. He invited me to go there and said he needed me in Romania to become champion. «So I will go» I said, and we were champions in Romania. I came back from my loan to FC Porto and went to SC Braga, another great team in Portugal. I only played for five months there because in that winter some miracle occurred, and even today I thank Iker Casillas. Unfortunately, he injured his finger, so Real Madrid had to buy a goalkeeper. Real Madrid bought Diego López from Sevilla, and they needed an experienced goalkeeper that immediately arrived and played. A goalkeeper that did not need adaptation time. Unai Emery chose me, took me to Sevilla FC, and I spent almost four fantastic seasons there. My contract finished in Sevilla, I had a serious injury in my shoulder that took me out of the field for eight months, and I felt my time in Sevilla was finished. Later, I fulfilled my dream and my father’s dream”.
My father died on the same day I signed with Leixões SC. I promised him that one day I would go back to Sporting CP. That day arrived.
“In the first year of Sporting CP, I have just played 11 games, so I said to myself «I love Sporting CP, it is my club, but I need to feel happier than this. I respect all the decisions of the coaches, but if they allow me to go out, I will». So I went to Turkey and embrace a very nice project. A new stadium, a city with almost five million people, fanatics about football, and I wanted to live it. Those were three of the most beautiful years of my career. I have never felt so beloved as I felt in Turkey. Even today, the Turkish and Goztepe fans show all the respect and love they have for me, so I think it was one of the best decisions I have made. Many people said «What a crazy decision! What are you doing? You have so many titles, you have such a big name, why do you go to Turkey?». I just said: «Because I want to». I do not have to do what the market wants me to do or what people tell me to do. Fortunately, I decided on my journey and where I wanted to play. It was a long journey, a difficult one, far from my family, far from my friends, with the loss of my father, but with a lot of power, passion, and sacrifice everything can be done”.
Resilience was a key point to overcoming the adversities he faced throughout his path.“Football puts you obstacles. If you do not go through them and have resilience, you will not get there. You will stay at a middle-low level. Football puts you to prove every day”.
Between 2013 and 2016, he experienced the best professional years in Spain, playing for Sevilla.“It was the highest point of my career”.
Three years in a row winning the UEFA Europa League! I do not think this will ever happen again in football.
Presently playing in the Veikkausliiga, Beto thinks he can play a significant role in the development of Finnish football. “I came here because the goalkeeper coach is my friend and we never worked together before. He called me and asked «Do you want to come here? This might be the last opportunity for us to work together!». I had offers from Portugal, one from Dubai, and another from a second league club from Switzerland, but I needed something different. Dubai was different, but it was too far from my family, so it would be complicated. When I spoke with my wife, the transfer window had already closed. My wife said «I cannot handle you anymore here like this, sad, dead, with no expression. Go! Feel free! Go to training, wake up, go to the matches on the weekend, feel the adrenaline, the pressure, be you». These were my wife’s words, so I simply said «Thank you». That is the most important thing a player can hear from this wife”.
“This reality is different. I think Finish football needs to step up forward and improve. They told me Jari Litmanen and I were the biggest players that have ever played here – and he is Finnish. For me, it is an opportunity to do something also for football. In my way of seeing things, I am doing something for football”, he added.
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