• Portugal players describe winning influence
  • Against Chile, Fernando Santos suffered only second loss in 24 matches
  • Portugal have not conceded goal in last 300 minutes of football

Two losses in 24 competitive matches: that’s the record that Fernando Santos brings into the rematch with Mexico in the match for third place at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.

When asked about this impressive record with Portugal, Santos told FIFA.com: "Yes I’m proud, not in the number but in my players, in what they have accomplished, in the quality, the will, commitment and determination they have shown. This naturally leaves me proud, not in myself personally, but in my team."

Santos’ belief and pride is echoed in each player that spoke to FIFA.com during the Russian campaign. When talking to many of his players, a strong thread ran through all conversations: Santos is a winner, he’s brought a winning mentality and has instilled a confidence and combativeness that has allowed his team to do what no other Portuguese national team had ever achieved - to win a major trophy.

"I think most important is that he is a leader,” said decade-long Selecção defender Pepe, “He (Santos) determines our path, our trajectory and we have followed the path together.”

"He brings the ambition to always enter to win,” 22-year-old Bernardo Silva told FIFA.com. "He’s a coach that in all his words to us and in all his speeches, transmits the thinking of a winner.”

When asked if it’s easy to misalign his ambition and words with over-confidence, Santos is quick to make the distinction clear: “Confidence is not presumption. That’s what I don’t want in my team. A team can be both confident and humble. Humility is about having respect for your opponent."

"But it’s also not fear. It’s not awe. Humility is recognising the the other side has good players that are in a team that has the same desire as us. We have to respect this, and then have the confidence in our own abilities in order to win.”

While he may believe in humility and respect, one look at the usually stoic Santos after the Chile match, and you could tell the defeat affected him deeply with the disappointment and sadness heavy on his face.

"All games that we lose are very difficult for me,” said Santos in his response to his appearance after the Chile defeat. "I take a loss very badly. In games where I lose, in those moments, I live very badly. But then, we move forward and face the next moment."