It’s safe to say that Portugese football is in good shape right now, European Championship winners in the summer, runners up in the 2015 U21 European championship, and runners up in the U19 European championships the year before. Six of the key players from those youth teams have broken into the national team now – Joao Cancelo (22), Raphael Guerreiro (22), Andre Gomes (23), Bernardo Silva (22), Joao Mario (23), Gelson Martins (21) and Andre Silva (20) with the latter being particularly impressive. Here we look at how his career has taken off.
Silva has played for every Portugal national team from U16 level and has been vital in the success of the new generation. At the 2014 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, he became the first ever player to net four times in a single match (6–1 group stage defeat of Hungary) so progression through the ranks was inevitable and in his first appearance with the under-21 side, Silva scored a hat-trick in 19 minutes, contributing to a 6–1 win against Albania for the 2017 European Under-21 Championship qualifiers. Unfortunately he might not feature in the finals of that tournament for the U21’s as he has done his chances of remaining in the first team no harm with recent performances. Four goals in four games including becoming the youngest player to score a hattrick for Portugal has shown us what an exciting young talent he is.
He made his competitive debut for Porto last season but started the campaign behind Aboubakar and Dani Osvaldo in the pecking order, this situation worsened in January with the acquisitions of Suk Hyun-jun and Moussa Marega. However, after José Peseiro replaced Julen Lopetegui as manager, he received more opportunities and scored his first league goal in a 4–0 home win over Boavista. He subsequently started in the final of the Taça de Portugal, helping his team recover from a 2-0 deficit against S.C. Braga with a brace, which included a bicycle kick in the last-minute.
Silva has begun 2016–17 in good form, with goals in his first two league games against Rio Ave F.C. and G.D. Estoril Praia, while also scoring in Porto’s 1–1 draw at home to A.S. Roma in the UEFA Champions League’s play-off round. A brace against Boavista and another goal a week later against Nacional puts him on nine goals in 14 games (including for Portugal), an impressive return for a 20 year old. He has just signed a new five-year contract with Porto, which includes a release clause of €60 million, a clear statement of how highly he is rated and how much the next superstar on the Porto conveyor belt might cost one of Europe’s superpowers.
About the author – Liam Bailes
Liam has been a football fanatic since the early 1990s and continues to be delighted by the sport today. He follows the 5 big European leagues as well as the npower championship and major cup competitions both domestically and internationally. He is an FA level 2 coach and loves to be involved with football at every opportunity.