- Match for third place decided in extra time
- Portugal concede second-lowest number of goals and take highest amount of shots at Russia 2017
- Bernardo Silva: “Future is guaranteed.”
By Marco Monteiro with Portugal
Their objective of making it to the final unfulfilled, Portugal leave Russia regretful, but proud of having entertained 42,659 fans in Spartak Stadium to a crazy night of football in the match for third place against Mexico that included a 91st minute leveller, two penalties, two red cards and 120 minutes of action.
On the eve of their Moscow departure, with their third-place medals still hanging around their necks, FIFA.com spoke to veteran Joao Moutinho, young stars Andre and Bernardo Silva, and the rapidly maturing Cedric about Portugal’s Russian evolution.
“I feel very grateful for the time we’ve had to grow together here,” said Andre Silva, who was the youngest member of the Portugal squad. "I think all the opportunities that young players get in order to grow, like here in Russia, are critical to their development.”
"I think the young players have tried to assimilate a lot of processes,” said 25-year-old Cedric, who made his Portugal debut two-and-a-half-years ago and has already claimed a fixed place in the defensive line alongside ever-present Pepe. "The youngest players have that mission to learn from the older players, and because of this, I think we have been evolving as a team. With each game, we've become more connected.”
A veteran of almost 12 years with A Seleção Portuguesa - Moutinho made an historic and emotional 100th international appearance at Russia 2017. The No8 explained the sense of duty he and the older players feel: "Me and the rest of the older players try to acclimatise the younger players and to help integrate them in the best way that helps the team,” he said. "That’s been the way to do it for as long as I can remember. When I arrived as a kid, that’s what the older Portuguese players did for me."
“I had the same experience, without question,” responded Bernardo Silva. “When I arrived, I already knew some players. A lot of us had already come through the U-21 [side], but the older players were exemplary, and whenever new players arrive, they are always warmly incorporated and are given maximum trust and confidence, which is ideal for a young player.”
"That mix between experienced players and youngsters is very important,” believes Cedric. "I think it’s very important that the young players gain that experience, and clearly, it helps us in all our games in achieving our objectives."
Asked what the future brings, Moutinho said: "The future of Portuguese football is what we have already seen. A competitive team, a team of players that give everything they have on the field to fulfil the team’s objectives."
"In some ways, you could say the future is guaranteed,” added a smiling Bernardo Silva.