Hey, Fernando Santos, haven't you forgotten Beto?

The Portuguese coach has revealed the list of 26 players called up to face the Czech Republic (September 24) and Spain (September 27). And in this list, there is missing a player who has been breaking the screen for several months already: Beto, the center forward of Udinese.

Norberto Bercique Gomes Betuncal, aka Beto, certainly didn’t expect much when Fernando Santos announced the list of 26 who would play the last two games of the group stage of the League of Nations. And for good reason: at 24, he has no selection for the Portugal team. Difficult, anyway, to find a small place in the sun in the middle of Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, João Félix, Rafa Silva or Rafael Leão. However, if Ricardo Horta (SC Braga) and Pedro Neto (Wolverhampton) have succeeded, why not him? After all, Beto Betuncal has been gaining momentum for Udinese for around 9 months. And the player makes a start to the season in the image of his club: explosive. The Friulians indeed monopolize third place in the standings, one point behind the Naples-Atalanta duo, and have already broken the figure of Roma (4-0) and Inter (3-1). Beto, he has established himself as the attacking terminal of this team: he occupies third place in the ranking of Serie A scorers, with four achievements in seven appearances. But where does this great dadais come from, who would dream of being the Eder of 2022?

“He ended up in the right place, but at the wrong time. At Benfica, his teammates were chasing him because he was not up to standard, and so he found himself isolated. » Luis Lopes, his first coach

At the KFC counter

When he looks back, Beto must tell himself that he has come a long way in the past decade. Born in Lisbon in 1998, he joined a football club for the first time in 2007, at the União de Tires, near the city of Cascais. His model is called Samuel Eto’o, so much so that, in his notebooks, he writes his name “Beto’o”. A few years later, recruiters from Benfica spot him and bring him in. But the step is obviously too high. The season is not going well, and at the end of the year, the player is not retained. “He wasn’t ready to go there, but how could you refuse a club like this? wonders Luis Lopes, his trainer at Tires, for the Italian media Chronicle of Spogliatoio. He ended up in the right place, but at the wrong time. At Benfica, his teammates were chasing him because he was not up to standard, and so he found himself isolated. » A little discouraged, he returns to Tires, and to put butter in the spinach, lands a small job at KFC. Football is no longer one of his priorities, he just wants to enjoy the summer with his friends. At KFC, he serves customers, takes orders, cleans tables. Despite his young age, he is already nearly 1.90m tall (he is 1.94m today), and inevitably, at the counter, customers ask him: “Are you a basketball player? » “No, I am attacking” he replies, even if, at that time, he thought rather of leaving everything behind.

But fate will come to interfere. One day when he leaves work and goes to the beach, Beto bumps into the president of the União de Tires. Then begins more than an hour of discussion, during which the president will really re-motivate his player, by finding the right words. “He told him that dreaming of being a footballer was not enoughcontinues Luis Lopes. He had to discipline himself and bring out his personality. He advised him to have the gaze of the tiger and to demonstrate his worth every day. » Account confirmed by Beto himself, during an interview with DAZN: “He gave me such a lecture that for an hour and a half, I didn’t see the sand. Eventually he convinced me to come back. » But for having had the “daring” to leave the União de Tires, Beto will have to eat his black bread. Namely: go play in the B team, the Juniors B. A punishment? No, rather a godsend for the player. “I was not focused on football at the time, so if I had been in team 1, I would not have insured. While there, I had everyone’s confidence. It was my luck. »

“One day, he was not motivated to train. So I told him that from now on, he would be the one carrying the bottles and the gourds. And they had to be always filled! If they were empty, he did not play. » Luis Lopez

Water bottles and tennis balls

His other chance is to have been accompanied by Luis Lopes. Who will really forge it, both from a sporting and a character point of view. “I convinced him to radically change his mentality, his lifestyle, his diet, the way he behaved in training. “Stop going out and go to bed early!” I think I succeeded in touching him in his pride. » But Beto is stubborn, a hothead, so Luis Lopes has to tighten the screw. “One day, he was not motivated to train. So I told him that from now on, he would be the one carrying the bottles and the gourds. And they had to be always filled! If they were empty, he did not play. At first, he dragged his paw. Then he did, silently. » Gradually, Beto changes mentality, approach, and progresses. “Physically, he was already a monster, but he had to improve his technique. To make him progress, I made him juggle with a tennis ball, and I promised him gifts. A confectionery for each successful exercise » , rewinds Luis Lopes. Finally, the remonstrances of one and the efforts of the other end up paying off: in the summer of 2018, the Olimpico Montijo, a Portuguese third division club, offered him a contract. And it is with undisguised emotion that Luis Lopes witnesses the emergence of his (great) protege: 21 goals in 34 D3 games. Enough to arouse the interest of Portimonense, a first division club, which signed him on a four-year lease in June 2019.

And after a first season of adaptation, marked in particular by the Covid-19 pandemic (11 games, 0 goals), he becomes one of the fixed points of his team during the 2020-2021 financial year. In particular, he scored a magnificent return against Tondela, which earned him the nickname of “Portuguese Haaland” in reference to its large size and its huge legs.

On the last day of the 2021 transfer window, Udinese come with an offer of 10 million euros. Neither one nor two, Beto jumps on the plane and lands in Italy. Where it will only take a few months before making a name for himself. Powerful, fast, good from the head, formidable in the area, he has already martyred the defenses of Lazio (doubled), Atalanta, Milan or even Fiorentina. What, really, to dream of a summons last minute in the Portuguese team. And if this is not, given the latest list, not topical, it might not be as utopian as that in the near future: on Wednesday September 14, the Friulian daily Il Gazzettino assured that Fernando Santos had sent emissaries to observe him during the match against Sassuolo, played on September 11. Result: Beto planted a double. Come on, a summons, tenders and fries, please!

By Eric Maggiori

Source: www.sofoot.com

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Peggy McColl

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