Chants of “Portugal Allez” could still be heard ringing around the Estadio da Praia da Baia well after the end of Sunday’s final at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015. They came from the tunnel inside the main stand, where the Portuguese players were celebrating their defeat of Tahiti.
Out on the sand, meanwhile, stood the great Madjer. His eyes sparkling and a Portuguese flag wrapped around his shoulders, he held hands with his son, who was clutching the adidas Bronze Ball his father had just been presented with.
Trying to catch his breath at the end of a thrilling evening, the Portugal skipper summoned up the energy for an exclusive chat with FIFA.com. “I still can’t tell you how I feel. My emotions are still sky high,” said the quietly spoken Madjer, casting his eyes around the now-empty stands, which only half an hour earlier were filled with 3,500 Portuguese fans celebrating their country’s first ever title win in a senior FIFA competition.
“It’s an incredible feeling. I can’t describe it, but we really deserve it,” he explained. “Only we know how much we’ve suffered in trying to win trophies, in fighting for titles. We’re all delighted.”
Some ten years have gone by since Portugal lost out in the final of the inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Brazil, a long time for a generation of great players to have to wait to finally become world champions.
“There’s no doubt it’s a reward for a lot of players who’ve spent many years in the national team, and for the new boys who’ve just come into the side, for the entire coaching staff, for the coach and for all the fans.
“This is a family here and we’re getting closer and closer together, just like any other family,” added Madjer, a born competitor who is already looking to the future. “This world title is the icing on the cake but we haven’t finished yet,” said the skipper, his mind turning to the 2017 world finals in the Bahamas.
Portugal’s title defence is still some way off, however, and Madjer’s main concern at the moment is celebrating a trophy that he can add to a cabinet packed with individual accolades.
“I’ve got space for the Bronze Ball, but I’m not so sure if there’s room enough in the lounge for all the photos of us world champions,” joked the second-highest scorer at Portugal 2015.
“This is without doubt the high point of my career at team level,” said Madjer, who has every intention of being around to help defend the title in two years’ time: “It’s a title that everyone in Portugal deserves. They never stopped supporting us, even when we lost to Senegal. That’s the Portuguese for you!”
Alan: This is for the fans
A long-standing team-mate of Madjer’s, Alan ended the tournament by picking up the adidas Silver Ball and had this to say to FIFA.com about the support he and his colleagues have had from the home fans throughout the competition: “The Portugal supporters are fantastic and they’ve proved that again here at this World Cup.”
“They came in the early hours of the morning to queue for a seat in the stadium and they waited in line for hours and hours to support us. Thankfully, everything turned out right and this title is more for them than it is for us.”
Now 40, the Portugal No6 said he would be sharing the adidas Silver Ball with the whole team, in recognition of their part in his performances. When asked if he was now finally thinking of retiring, a decision he has postponed many times before, he said playfully: “Am I going to be in the Bahamas in 2017? I hope so.
“Now that we’ve won this title, they’re teasing me and saying that I won’t be playing, but we’ll see, we’ll see. I can’t say what’s going to happen over the next two years and there are a lot of people who can come into the team. If I’m in good shape, though, we’ll be there in the Bahamas.”
If he does make the trip, his task will be to help retain a title won in memorable fashion at a tournament that neither Espinho nor the world will ever forget.