Brazil pivot Sidney is not the most prolific goalscorer in beach soccer nor is he the most skilful or the most accomplished when it comes to defending. And yet, he is considered one of the finest players in the world today.
One man who cannot praise him enough is his national coach Alexandre Soares. “A lot of people still see the sport as just a form of entertainment,” Soares told FIFA.com.
“But as a coach I have to be aware of everything that goes on, and that includes tactics. And as far as I’m concerned, Sidney is a wonderful player, perhaps the only player in beach soccer who can do five or six different things. He can attack, score, defend and sort out problems. He is to my mind one of the best players in the world.”
As Sidney explained, Soares lets him know just how highly he thinks of him. “I think Alexandre was half-joking but he came up to me before the game and said: ‘Today you’re going to attack, defend, man-mark, pass the ball, take corners and score goals’,” said the smiling 31-year-old utility man.
“That’s what I’ve always been: a team player. I can play up front, at the back, on the wing, wherever. I do a little bit of everything.”
In Saturday’s semi-final against the Portuguese, Sidney brought his attacking skills to bear. With the game tied at 1-1 in the second period, he popped up with a timely brace to give Brazil a lead they would not relinquish. And as if that were not enough, it was his pass that set up Bruno Malias for the final goal in their 4-1 win, the last contribution in a match-winning performance that ought to go some way to raising his profile a bit higher.
Not that Sidney feels he has any problems in that area. “A lack of recognition? I think I get recognition,” he said. “I’m in A Seleção, which is the greatest thing you can aspire to, I’ve won four World Cups and I’m in my fifth final. That’s the kind of recognition I need."
In Soares’ eyes, however, Sidney is still an unsung hero: “People can’t see what he has to offer. I mean, he’d never won an individual award until today. It’s just as well I could see it because the fact we’re in the final again is mainly down to him.”