THE BALL – Straw: «the comeback», titles and messages to fans and teammates (Sporting)

After the transfer to Fulham (for €20M+€2M per objectives), João Palhinha reviewed the nine years he represented the club for Sporting TV. He recalled the loans he went through, the way of playing, the conquest of the champion title and also left messages for fans and teammates.

Miss you: «Obviously I miss you, even when I was on vacation I already missed you, what we have created here in recent years is something you don’t pay for, it’s unusual, the whole union we have, it’s never easy to say goodbye, it’s special, remarkable moments that we will always remember. I have a lot to be thankful for, this step of mine is also due to the collective work of these last years, they helped me a lot to grow as a player, I also helped them, this whole union made us reach higher levels.”

Right moment: «We never know if it’s the right time, but we don’t know if the opportunities will appear tomorrow. Football is made of moments, I believe this is the moment to take this step, to play in the best league in the world, I always had that ambition. When leaving Sporting, I always said that I would like to say goodbye to my club with titles, namely the national championship. At a certain point in my career I was going to leave Sporting and I was going to leave an image that didn’t match mine. I went through a more complicated phase, there were moments when I didn’t think it was possible to return to the club, luckily I managed to turn around, I won titles, I won the most important title of the club, the national championship, after almost 20 years.”

Differences: «The differences are many, because a player is much more mature, as a man and a professional, all the experiences I had made me grow a lot. I didn’t have a very common path, due to loans, even my first year and a half in the first team was very difficult, there was a certain time when I thought it was very difficult to turn around, but thanks to the great team I have behind me, my family, who always made me believe that things would change one day, when I returned from loan to Braga, I managed to assert myself once and for all in my club and that, for us who come from the formation, is always a dream come true and to gather to that the titles I managed to win later, it is the most beautiful milestone in my career to date.”

Physical confrontation: «It ends up being a bit of my brand image, I am a player who likes the physical duel, I like to celebrate a car cut, I like the contact itself, I go to a championship that is similar to that, which is the DNA from it. I’m a player that people know gives everything. (…) You have to be very hungry to recover the ball, a lot of positional sense and what the mister asks for. I’m a player who loves to recover balls, give balance to the team. I leave a more complete player than I was.”

Ugarte: “He’s an excellent player, a kid who is growing fast. In midfield, Sporting has to be calm, because in the coming years there will be many players there… There is also Dário, who is growing up, he is very young, at his age I was joining Sporting, 17 years old, everything in due course, I know that many more players will appear here from the formation to the other side.”

Great tackle or great goal: «It depends, if the great goal is decisive, I’d rather score a great goal, but everyone knows how important a good tackle is for me, I’m a player who has that DNA, that’s what accompanied me until today and will accompany me in my career.”

Goal: «All the goals I scored were important, I could have scored a few more, I had opportunities for that, but all the five goals I scored in the last two seasons were remarkable. The first goal I score when I come back from SC Braga, with Paços, for the Portuguese Cup, was a turning point in my history in the club’s first team.”

National title: «Dedication, devotion and glory. It was all together. We are talking about a very difficult path that was made, it was not a time that any player or structure could reach, largely due to what the club was going through. Fortunately, together, we held on to each other and managed to turn it around. Some time has passed, but I don’t forget what they said at the beginning of the season, after our defeat against LASK, the commentators tearing us up on television, saying that it was going to be another disastrous season for Sporting, that there were players who they had the capacity to represent the club and we gave the white glove slap, we were giving the white glove slap during the season, but the great success was at the end, we managed to achieve glory.”

Party: «So many years passed without Sporting being champion, all Sporting fans took to the street, regardless of the constraints due to Covid, it was a very beautiful party, there are things that could have been different, the fans in the stadium, but it wasn’t because of That’s why the party is no longer beautiful and striking and these videos I will always keep on my phone.»

Game with Boavista: «It was an unusual day, I had trouble sleeping the night before, because we knew it was going to be a day that would change our lives, in which we were going to leave our name engraved in Sporting’s history, because many players with a lot of quality passed here, but as they didn’t win titles it’s always different. It is what remains in history, in the museum, it has to make us proud, for our children/grandchildren to know that their father/grandfather was champion for Sporting is a huge personal achievement.”

Captain: «It’s the portrait of what I came to be from the formation to the first team. It was a retribution on the part of the club, giving me that power, that responsibility, I will never forget to wear that armband in the League Cup final against Benfica, it was something remarkable, I have the armband at my house, it’s there in shelf with the trophies, it’s an immense pride to have that armband on my arm after all the history I’ve made here and it’s a reward from the club for all my journey.”

World Cup: «I will do my best now at Fulham. It was thanks to the great work I did at Sporting that I managed to reach the National Team, I hope to be at the World Cup, I will do everything to be there.”

Ready to be a father: «I am, of course, the logistics are never easy, but it is a very big reason for happiness and I am looking forward to knowing what that feeling of a father is.»

Message to colleagues: «Thanks and strength for the new season that is at the door, there are many things we experience, many games, I will continue to accompany you, to cheer for your success. Fortunately, this club is on a different level than it was a few years ago and this is what makes me most proud at the moment, is being able to leave Sporting with titles and the club rebuilt and ready for another season with or without João Palhinha.”

Message to the fans: «I want to thank you for all the love you gave me, for helping me to turn my story around here at the club, for helping me to conquer what I have today, we didn’t start in an easy way , it was not an easy path, but thanks to you I managed to turn it around. It was very important all the claps I felt from the moment of the first warm-up to my last exit from the stadium, all the claps that clapped me, all the songs that you had with me, all the messages of affection that I receive from you, just you I want to thank you, I have no words to thank you. It was a pleasure to represent this club. I hope you continue to support me and cheer for me, I will also continue to root for our club and our success, all the best for you and your families. Leonine greetings.”