In football, things can change almost overnight. The career of goalkeeper Eduardo is a testament to the unpredictable nature of the beautiful game. Less than two years ago, he was involved in a struggle for the No1 jersey at Braga, and then forced to go out on loan to prove his ability at the top level. After a successful spell at Setubal in 2007/08, opportunity finally came calling, and the experienced shot-stopper got the chance he had been craving for so many years.
He was recalled to Braga, immediately installed as first-choice keeper at the start of the 2008/09 season, and has never looked back. His outstanding performances in the league, and especially in the UEFA Cup, have earned him widespread admiration in his homeland, and served perhaps as a salutary lesson to others that patience in football is often a virtue. And he has gone on to reap even greater rewards: his excellent form for the Minho club brought him to the attention of national coach Carlos Queiroz, and he now finds himself on the verge of turning FIFA World Cup™ dreams into reality.
He won his first call-up to the senior squad during Portugal’s difficult qualifying campaign, and precisely at a time when the Equipa das Quinas was struggling for form and consistency. Eduardo’s authoritative presence between the sticks helped get the team back on track and, in eight qualifying matches, the new number one conceded a paltry total of two goals, winning over the sceptics in the process.
Now firmly installed as first-choice for both club and country, it seems as though Eduardo is ready to write his name into the annals of Portuguese football history. In four previous FIFA World Cup campaigns, only once has the country’s number one come from a club other than the so-called big three, namely Benfica, Porto and Sporting. That man was Jose Pereira, from Belenenses, who starred for his country in the 1966 finals. Forty-four years on, Braga will proudly break with footballing tradition, as Eduardo attempts to emulate the achievements of his illustrious predecessors.