Edu Sousa: You must watch one-of-a-kind Ricardinho

30 Jun 2021
  • Edu Sousa is hoping to make Portugal's Lithuania 2021 squad

  • Portugal will arrive as European champions

  • Edu raves about team-mate Ricardinho

“It was an incredible day for me when I put the shirt on and went out to sing the national anthem,” Eduardo Filipe Sousa told FIFA.com, recalling his Portugal debut in a friendly against France on 3 December 2019. “I was emotional and pretty nervous too. I couldn’t believe I was there.”

That debut came as reward for a long journey in which pulling on the Portugal jersey became a major life goal. Sousa moved to Spain with his family when he was 12, by which time futsal was already in his blood. “My father played football and futsal professionally and it’s been part of my life since I was little," he said. "I’ve always loved futsal.” Not untypically for a futsal player, he tried football, though it did not take him long to realise that the indoor game was for him. “I started out playing 11-a-side football for Eibar but switched to futsal when I began playing it with my friends,” said the 24-year-old goalkeeper. “I fell in love with it straightaway. I realised I could save a lot more balls than in football and I decided to make the change.” He started his career with CD Debabarrena and then Zierbena FS in the Basque country before signing in 2017 for Osasuna Magna, who play in Spain’s top flight, the Primera RFEF Futsal. His career began to take off and reached a turning point in the 2019/20 season, when he signed for Vina Albali Valdepenas and was voted the league’s best goalkeeper. That accolade capped a superb year for Sousa, in which he helped his club reach the league final and also made his Portugal debut. “I left Osasuna Magna because I wasn’t getting the opportunities I wanted,” he said. “I ended up having an amazing year, winning that award and getting called up for virtually every Portugal squad.”

Now established as one of the best keepers in Spain, his next step is to earn his spurs with Portugal and earn himself some playing time at the upcoming FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021™. That task will not be easy, however, not with two Portugal icons Bebe and Andre Souza – 38 and 35 respectively – standing in his way. Nevertheless, Sousa has nothing but praise for his goalkeeping colleagues and for the welcome they gave him to the national team. “I’m going head-to-head in the Portugal goal with two absolute legends, two veterans who’ve played for the national team for many years,” explained Sousa. “They told me from day one to take things in my stride. "They said that it’s hard to break into the team and that if I was there it was for a very good reason, for the quality I had. They gave me a great welcome and accepted me into the big family that we are. I feel right at home and very much at ease. “They’re aware that they’re not getting any younger, though that has nothing to do at all with performance levels. I’m pleased to be able to say that I’m the next in line, but I also know that there are some great young keepers at Sporting and Benfica coming through who are going to push me hard. I’ve got to work hard and try to make the World Cup, the European Championships and the tournaments after that.” His immediate goal is to make it to Lithuania, where Portugal will arrive as European champions. “It’s very important to have that status at a World Cup,” he said. “We’ll be more relaxed and full of confidence, and it will also earn us respect from our rivals.” Title hopes, must-watch Ricardinho Fourth at Colombia 2016, Portugal are looking to go one step further in Lithuania and make a Futsal World Cup final at long last. “You need a little bit of luck," Edu said. "When you give your all and the ball doesn’t want to go in, there’s nothing else you can do but try and be better next time around. Portugal have taken a big step already in winning the European Championship. We’ve got lots of quality players and we’re going to show that we deserve to be in the mix because we’re going to fight really hard.” Though they are very firm favourites to win it, Portugal can expect a fight in a Group C, where Thailand, Morocco and Solomon Islands provide the opposition. “They might be relative unknowns but there’s so little between teams now in futsal that there could be a surprise or two," warned Edu. "The teams you know least about are the hardest to prepare for, which is what makes them dangerous. Any team can cause you problems in a World Cup.” Asked about his chances of making it to Lithuania, Sousa was optimistic: “I play in the best league in the world and that gives me a chance.” So what would winning the world title mean to Portugal? “It would be historic," he said. "It would change Portuguese futsal and how people perceive it for good.” The keeper signed off with a message for the Lithuanian fans who will be turning up at the World Cup. “They’ve got to watch Ricardinho," he said. "He’s one of a kind. He’s the best player in the history of futsal and it’s well worth watching one of his games just because he’s on the pitch. "Every match at the World Cup is worth watching because there are sure to be surprises. The fans are going to love it.”