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Portugal's triumphant European U17 Championship squad: where are they now?

Portugal's triumphant European U17 Championship squad: where are they now?

A year before Portugal made it to the final of the 2004 Euros on home soil, their under-17 side went one better and lifted the European title in Viseu.

That team illustrated that Portugal weren’t just a strong footballing nation at that point in time - but also had a strong future ahead of them to look forward to too.

But, by now in their early 30s, where is that youthful class of ‘03 now - and how have their careers gone since lifting the trophy 16 years ago? We take a look at the side to find out more.

Mário Felgueiras (Goalkeeper)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Anorthosis (Cyprus).

The man chosen between the sticks for Portugal in the final against Spain, Felgueiras will very much be an unknown name amongst football fans outside Portugal.

Despite playing a significant role in the tournament back in 2003, Felgueiras never made the progression to the senior national team, the highest level which he played at being the U21 side, who he represented on one occasion - a 13 minute cameo versus Ireland in a friendly clash.

At club level, he was part of the Sporting youth team when Portugal won the competition in 2003, but he never progressed to the senior team. Instead, he represented clubs such as Portimonense and Pacos Ferreira in Portugal and Konyaspor and Cluj in Turkey and Romania respectively.

Now he plays in the Cypriot top flight with Anorthosis.

Pedro Freitas (Goalkeeper)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Vilaverdense (Portugal).

Another goalkeeper, and another player who never made the progression to the Portugal senior national team.

The highest level at which he represented Portugal was the U19s, having come through the Guimaraes academy.

He never made it at the club though, and has since only represented sides in the lower reaches of the Portuguese game, such as Maria da Fonte and Fafe. He did represent Santa Clara too, but only while they were in the second division.

Currently, he is on the books of Vilaverdense, who play in the Portuguese third divison (the Campeonato de Portugal).

João Dias (Right back)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Covilha (Portugal)

The third player on this list - and the third player who never went on to represent him country at senior level.

He did get closer than the previous two though; coming through the Porto academy, a lot was thought of Dias as he represented the country at various youth levels, from U17 all the way up to the U23s. But he never played for the senior side.

He still plays football though; while he didn’t make it at Porto, he has represented some reputable clubs, such as Academica, Boavista and Santa Clara. He’s now plying his trade for Sporting Covilha, who play in the Portuguese second division - and finished 6th last campaign, just 4 spots below the promotion places.

Tiago Gomes (Left back)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 1. Current club: Without club - Most recent: Feirense (Portugal).

Finally, a player who actually did go on to represent Portugal. His one appearance actually came quite recently; in fact, it was under the management of Fernando Santos in 2014 that he made his one and only appearance for the senior national team.

That showing came in a friendly victory against Argentina, at the time being on the books of Braga.

Now, the left back is currently without a club, having most recently represented Feirense, who were relegated in last place last campaign.

In total, he played 11 of Feirense’s 34 league matches last season, more often than not an unused substitute.

Paulo Ricardo (centreback)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: N/A.

Ricardo is another that didn’t make the progression to the senior national team.

Despite coming through the Guimaraes academy and winning the U17 Euros in 2003, his footballing career didn’t take off - and that’s despite the fact that he even started the final against Spain, which finished 2-1 to Portugal.

Vitor Vinha (Left back)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Retired - most recent: Famalicao

Yet another player who did not make the progression to the senior national team. Having come through the Academica academy, he actually represented his boyhood club several times, but eventually moved on to Cypriot side Nea Salamis.

That stint abroad proved successful, and he returned to Portugal, representing very respectable clubs such as Aves, Olhanense and Beira Mar.

The left back retired in 2016 after a season with Famalicao.

Joao Pedro (right back)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Apollon Limassol

The versatile right back, who can also play as a winger, also failed to go on to represent the national team at senior level.

Currently on the books of Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol, he played a significant role in helping his side to 2nd place in the league standings, playing 20 of his side’s 22 league fixtures.

Coming through the Braga academy, he did go on to represent Portugal U20s too.

Miguel Veloso (Defensive midfielder)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 56. Current club: Without club - most recent: Genoa.

Finally we come to a player that went on to have a tremendous career, both at club and national level.

Capped 56 times for Portugal, Veloso is a proven and accomplished central midfielder, having represented Portugal at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, as well as at the Euros in 2012, where he helped Portugal reach the semi-final, only to be knocked out by eventual champions Spain on penalties.

The captain of the Portugal U17s when they lifted the trophy on home soil, Veloso has so far spent almost the entirety of his career at just 3 clubs - Sporting, Dynamo Kiev and Genoa.

The defensive midfielder - who is also perfectly adept at being utilised in the left-back position - played 22 of Genoa’s Serie A games in 2017-18 as they secured a 12th place finish in the league. And this most recent season, he played nearly as many despite missing the first 3 months of the season, featuring in 21 matches as he helped just about guide Genoa to safety.

He is now expected to sign for newly-promoted Italian side Verona, where he will again link up with former Genoa manager Ivan Juric.

Paulo Machado (central midfielder)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 6. Current club: Mumbai City.

Now 33 years of age, Paulo Machado is a name that a fair few outside of Portugal may have even heard of, having represented the likes of Saint Etienne, Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb in his career - and even played for Portugal 6 times between 2010 and 2013.

He was one of the players who were on the field when Portugal beat Spain 4-0 in a friendly, a day many Portugal fans still enjoy to recount, albeit for just a couple of minutes.

Additionally, while he did represent Portugal 6 times overall, none of those appearances came in a competitive fixture.

He is now on the books of Indian side Mumbai City.

Joao Moutinho (central midfielder)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 116. Current club: Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Here we are then. By far the most famous face on this list is former Sporting and Porto midfielder Joao Moutinho.

The 32 year old has gone on to represent Portugal a huge 116 times - a number that will almost certainly increase further from here.

That number makes him the third most capped Portuguese footballer of all time, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo, the latter only 13 caps ahead of the Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder who is still going strong.

Under the management of Nuno Espirito Santo, Moutinho played a total of 44 matches for Wolves last season across all competitions, featuring in all 38 of their league games as they secured an impressive 7th place finish in the league standings.

Joao Coimbra (central midfielder)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Trofense.

Another name - and yet another player who, despite lifting the U17 European Championship title back in 2003, failed to go on to represent Portugal.

After coming through the Benfica academy, many wouldn’t have bet against him going on to have a stellar career, and that was reinforced by the fact that he represented Portugal at every level from U16 to U21.

But despite playing 17 matches for Benfica across all competitions, he didn’t quite earn international recognition, and went on to represent Estoril, Viseu, and Leiria in Portugal.

He is now on the books of Trofense, who play in the third tier of Portuguese football.

Manuel Curto

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Retired.

Another player who came through Benfica’s youth academy, Curto never managed to break into the Benfica senior team, and instead spent most of his career in the lower leagues of Portuguese football.

He most recently represented Torreense in 2017.

Marcio Sousa (attacking midfielder)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Ninense.

He was the man that scored both goals for Portugal in the final against Spain to deliver cup glory for the nation - but Sousa never went on to represent the senior team, and is currently on the books of third tier outfit Ninense.

The most productive spell of his career came when he represented Tondela between 2010 and 2015 - although he ultimately left the club just before they earned promotion to the Portuguese Primeira Liga.

Vieirinha (winger/left back)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 25. Current club: PAOK.

The player on this list boasting the third most senior caps of them all, Vieirinha has had a very impressive career across Portugal, Germany and Greece, and is one of the 23 Portuguese players who lifted the Euro 2016 trophy in Paris three years ago.

Originally a right winger, Vieirinha has gradually morphed into a left back, and has proven just as effective as ever.

Indeed, as both captain and player of the year for his club PAOK, who he helped lead to the Greek title last campaign, Vieirinha had one of the campaigns of his life. In fact, PAOK didn’t lose a single league game this campaign, with Vierinha playing his part in that tremendous run to help his Greek side win their first league title for 35 years. Phenomenal.

Helder Barbosa (left winger)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 1. Current club: Akhisar Belediyespor.

Another player who has a senior cap to his name, Barbosa has had a very respectable career, his most successful spell coming between 2010 and 2014 when he represented Braga.

It was during this time that he earned his debut for the Portugal national team, appearing for 11 minutes in an international friendly match with Gabon. Portugal drew 2-2.

Bruno Gama

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Aris.

Represented the Portugal U16s, U17s, U18s, U19s, U21s and U23s, but never the senior team.

Gama has also had a more than respectable career; although he failed to make it at Braga or Porto, he went on to be a key player for Rio Ave, before he then moved to Deportivo La Coruna and was equally impressive.

He also represented Ukrainian side Dnipro between 2013 and 2016, and was equally important to the side, playing a significant role in helping Dnipro defy the odds and reach the final of the UEFA Europa League.

He now plays for Greek Superleague outfit Aris, who finished 5th in the league campaign last season.

He only managed to play 14 games for Aris in the 2018-19 season though, after suffering a long-term injury in January.

Carlos Saleiro (Striker)

Appearances for Portugal senior team: 0. Current club: Retired.

And we end with another player who never made the progression to the senior team. Saleiro, who came through Sporting’s academy, started several of the U17 Euros in 2003, including the final, and showed his clinical side for the U17s, but he never made it to the senior national team.

And that’s despite him having a very good career at Sporting, who he represented 70 times across all competitions. He was nothing like a clinical finisher though, and eventually moved on, joining Swiss side Servette before returning to Portugal.

He did even spend brief time in the English game, but only played 17 minutes of football for the then League One side, coming on in a 2-1 loss to Carlisle United in the EFL Cup.

Joao Moutinho. Photo author: Дмитрий Садовников.  License link .

Joao Moutinho. Photo author: Дмитрий Садовников. License link.

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Benfica and Porto in top ten of clubs across Europe for money made from player sales over the past decade

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