He has the same body dribbling, foot swing, style and affinity with the ball that he had as a kid playing at Lamego. Afonso Moreira, 18, we are assured, was really a differentiated player. And the whole story that led this winger to the first team, becoming one of the strong bets and hopes for the future of the lion, is a proof of strength, resistance and determination.
And this was the starting point of this journey through time that A BOLA seeks to tell. And for that, he went back a few years. At the first kicks at Cracks Clube Lamego, historic training club (which has already become national youth champion), which already has Afonso Moreira as a true idol. For all he stands for. And for the happy story of a local child considered an example by all.
Lamego’s story even begins with Afonso’s brother, Rafael. He played for the Cracks (he ended up not pursuing a career) and at the time insisted to Rui Santos, the football coordinator: “My brother is a star, believe me. He is going to become a star…”, a message broadcast throughout the structure of the club.
At 8 years old, and not yet old enough to join the club (which did not yet have a level under 10), Afonso Moreira played a little in a small school in Arouca, which belonged to former player João Manuel Pinto. Just a year. The following year, after a lot of insistence (and resistance from the father who did not see his son in a good light evolving on a bare lawn…), Afonso joined Cracks. And from here…
“He was a killer. He took the ball and it was a show. Playing in the mud! Always naked. He scored 200 goals playing in the mud. The word that defines him is differentiated. We are a national youth champion academy, we only have training, a lot of players come through here, but this caliber is one by far and away. He was a five-star kid. And just because he’s here now doesn’t mean I’m saying that to heal. Humble, from wealthy families, he never missed practice. Very fast! What he is now, as a kid, it was even more visible, because he had that long hair and he looked like he was flying [risos].”
Afonso Moreira’s bond with Lamego is very strong. He was born and raised there. Where he keeps many childhood friends. Who see it today as a reference.
“He has a strong connection to the land. Earlier, before leaving for an internship at Sporting in the Algarve, he was here. For the children here, he is an idol. Before him, only Gonçalo Santos, who passed through Estoril, had projection, since he was playing in the Champions League … He is an example for the kids, ”underlines the coach linked to the club since 2013.
The memories are all positive. He only regrets not having experienced his growth more closely. “I never entered the locker room. It is a sacred place. I clearly remember reaching 100 goals, then 200… it was a goal scoring machine. He took the ball, managed to dribble past everyone and had a team playing for him. Who then did the rest…”
Finally, Marco Rodrigues wanted to leave a message via A BOLA. “If you’re with him…tell him we have nearly 300 people here every day fighting and cheering on his victory. For him and for us,” he concludes.
Deflected from Benfica, FC Porto and… Barcelona
Afonso Moreira’s goals at Lamego soon attracted the interest of several national and international clubs. However, Sporting were more nimble and secured the talented striker. Even withstand the demands of Cracks.
“Benfica and FC Porto seemed to be tightening a bit, but Sporting was maybe the best option. When they get up there, it’s always the best option. But an agreement has been reached with Sporting to postpone his trip there. It made a lot of difference. Then he ended up staying here to train during the week and at the weekend, he participated in tournaments with Sporting, ”says Rui Santos.
In addition to Benfica and FC Porto, other emblems, such as Barcelona, have also been attentive to its development. “It was impossible to remain indifferent to those watching his matches. We knew there was a pearl there and after a great competition, Sporting ended up winning, ”says Marco Rodrigues.