Madjer: I'll be proud to represent Portugal and beach soccer
Though long hailed as beach soccer's greatest-ever player, it is only now - at the age of 38 - that Madjer is able to call himself a world champion. That new and long sought-after status was finally secured on Sunday, when the veteran Portugal star helped fire his country to their first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title.
Madjer struck eight times during the tournament, including the opener in the final as the Portuguese were crowned in Espinho in front of a delirious capacity crowd. “It’s an incredible feeling. I can’t describe it, but we really deserve it,” he told FIFA.com afterwards. “Only we know how much we’ve suffered in trying to win trophies, in fighting for titles."
Now, after the suffering, comes the reward. For Madjer, the high of clutching the trophy he has spent his career pursuing will now be followed by another memorable moment. This latest honour will come on Saturday 25 July when the Preliminary Draw is held in St Petersburg's Konstantin Palace - with the beach soccer icon one of the draw assistants.
The ceremony, which starts at 18.00 local time, will determine which teams face off in the various qualifying competitions across the globe, with the fate of 141 nations from five confederations set to be revealed. *
Madjer, for his part, will form part of an all-star line-up that also includes the likes of Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro, Diego Forlan, Samuel Eto'o and Olivier Bierhoff, and he can hardly wait.
"Helping Portugal win its first world title in beach soccer was something historic and it still feels like a dream," he said. "I’m really happy with the invitation to take part of the Preliminary Draw next to such great names of world football.
"I’ll be proud to represent not only my country, but also the whole beach soccer community. I think it’s a sign of recognition for the game and I’m delighted to be a part of such an event.”
* AFC's member associations will not be involved in the Preliminary Draw.