There are quite a few advantages to being a footballer and having a famous former player as a father, as Portugal’s Goncalo Paciencia can tell you. Though his surname – which means “patience” in Portuguese – invariably sees his important goal being greeted with headlines such as “Paciencia is a virtue”, the fact that he is the son of the ex-Porto and Selecção das Quinas striker Domingos Paciencia means that he knows very well what to expect in that respect.
“The play on words always comes up sooner or later,” the smiling Portugal and Porto No9 told FIFA.com, in a conversation that moved on to the more meaningful aspects of the key role his father had in his development as an athlete. “To start with, there’s the incentive,” explained the youngster. “As soon as my father started to show me tapes from the time when he played, and when I watched things on *YouTube *as a boy, I said to myself that I wanted to be like him and to play on big stages like this, at the Olympic Games.”
The scorer of a goal in both of Portugal’s opening two games at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 – in victories over Argentina and Honduras – Paciencia is in the process of taking a big step forward in his career. And it is all happening under the command of someone his father knows very well: Rui Jorge, a former colleague of Paciencia Sr’s with Portugal and at Porto, where the 22-year-old now plays.
“Goncalo grew up in an environment in which his father went through similar situations, playing big matches, so it only natural that he, as a player, should have a clearer understanding of what those situations are all about,” said the coach of a Portugal side that has already secured its place in the quarter-finals at Rio 2016. “In the Porto side we played together in, Domingos was always one of those players who put the team before himself, even when he had a great game. That’s something you can see he’s passed on to Goncalo,” he added in reference to Paciencia Sr, who was the Portuguese league’s top scorer in the 1995/96 season and Portugal’s player of the year in 1990.
The production line
It was because of his famous surname that Goncalo Paciencia was one of the few names on the Portugal’s Rio 2016 squad list to catch the eye of the global public when it was announced. Portugal’s youth teams have been so successful of late that their players forced their way into the Olympic side. Some of the stars of the team that nailed down Portugal’s place at Rio 2016 in finishing runners-up at the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championships in Czech Republic, featured in the victorious UEFA Euro 2016 campaign, such as Joao Mario, Raphael Guerreiro and William Carvalho, while the teenager Renato Sanches also starred in France.
Their success caused Rui Jorge, who was also in charge of the side at last year’s U-21 continental finals, to reshuffle his pack for the Olympics. Goncalo, a member of that squad, became a more prominent part of his plans, and is now seizing his opportunity with no little style and character.
“At times like this, the confidence my father instilled in me about these kinds of occasions does make a bit of a difference,” said the young striker, who added that only people who know nothing about him and his team-mates would ever see Portugal as one of the tournament revelations. “Honestly, and with all due respect to anyone who thinks that, it’s only a surprise to people on the outside. We’ve always known that we have a quality side. It’s another example of the excellent work Portugal have been doing. If a lot of these players are unknowns, then it’s because there’s so much quality around and they’ve had to wait a long time to get their chance.”
As the rest of the world can now see for itself, that long wait has finally ended for Portugal’s talented tyros. What with so much talent available to Portugal right now, the queue has not been short. Just as well, then, that they have learned to make patience a virtue.