Letter to the Haters.

To all the Haters, Lovers, Portuguese, International Friends, Followers and Strangers,

It has been a very long 48 hours, since the UEFA Euro2016 Final happened two nights ago… the moment millions of Portuguese all around the world, would collectively dream for that result … the one we haven’t been able to forget since 2004 Euro. And we WON, we won the Euro 2016. ❤️🇵🇹

I meant to write something a bit more meaningful all day yesterday, but it was harder than I thought, too many emotions running through my body and my mind. Now, that things have finally calmed down I am going to try to get a couple of words together.

To those that know me, know I am not even a big fan of those invisible lines called borders, countries etc, but when a little country, completely forgotten, at that western corner of Europe, a country that is usually labelled as a region of our only neighbours, with an often reputation of being lazy, depressed, disorganized, loud and only famous for an “arrogant” football player as they say, it does hit a nerve and I am done with YOU steeping on my toes.

 

Proud Portuguese <3

Proud Portuguese <3

So for the last month, it has been quite stressing… I had to listen on how unfairly my team and my boys had passed all the way to the semis, than to the finals …
Having to see a media selling this narrative that Portugal is boring and was lucky in its draw while a large number of commentators being arrogant and downright obnoxious towards my country.
I had international friends disdaining my Portugal and an international press trying to bring us down. And lets not forget the comments on Facebook and Social Media in general… all those trolls that as much as I tried to ignore, were everywhere, bulling us…!!!! It really felt like everyone tried to diminish us – all that knowing that if it was Wales or Iceland had qualified 3rd and had get into the finals, they would be considered heroes. But US?

US? We were called “The disgusting ones”, “the cheaters”, “the thieves” …. and would go from “Portugal is one man-team” (about Cristiano Ronaldo) to “Cristiano Ronaldo is a loser, a failure, a diver, a cry baby, a penaldo” and a lot of other uninspired insults …

Yes, US, the forced underdogs… the “little ones”. The team that famously have been sooooo close but never won. Not even at Home. 2004. Portugal/Greece.
Let’s not forget we are unrivalled in our track record since 2004 – Portugal is the only team in history to have made 6 consecutive quarter finals, 4 of them semi finals and 2 of those were finals (and we are only 11 million), however, we haven’t won a single tournament … until now!!!

Still the world was against us. Europe was against us. Everyone seemed to be against us.
It was so hard for me to understand why. Is not like our adepts are like the English or Russian. Is not like our team plays dirty. Why everyone seemed to hate the “little ones”?

With all the negativity there was also history… and history told US that we were unlikely to win THE Final with a team we have lost with for the last 10 games. France has beaten us since 1975, so last time Portugal won the French, my parents were kids.

So yeah, everything was against us, people, media, stats and even history.

Where have I been?

True is, the last time I saw a tournament while here in Portugal, was in fact the Euro in 2004. Ever since, all the EuroCups or WorldCups I’ve watched, I would be abroad and mostly alone.
I will never forget when I watched Portugal playing against Spain during the WorldCup2010 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It does not come as surprise that I didn’t find not even one Portuguese to watch the game with, so I was happy that at the least the staff at the hotel I was staying were big Cristiano Ronaldo fans, so they were rooting for Portugal.
But other times, I would be in the situation that there was no one to root for my team, and had to watch Portugal playing in some dodgy sport bars in Thailand while old disgusting German and British men would be making fun of Portugal while trying to pick up local teenagers… so in order to not get in massive trouble (yes, I really wanted to kick their asses and other stuff aswell) I would watch the game in a uncomfortable silence!

But this year was different!
This year something happened.
I believed!!!!!!!
I believe we could actually win! Finally win. 1st place.
Enough of getting the 2nd, the 3rd and the 4th place… we got all those, now it was our time. It was time to be champions and I secretly knew we would be. 💚❤️

Maybe because this time around it felt like the good old times, 2004, it felt home because I was home at last! After 12 years of supporting my team, my boys, my country while abroad and with almost no one, this time I was with my family, my friends, my people and even with strangers that were also rooting for the same boys, the same team, the same country and we were suffering together, crying together, hugging, screaming, holding hands and laughing while painting each other the colours of our beautiful flag!!!!🇵🇹

 

Celebrating with family and friends in PORTUGAL

Celebrating with family and friends in PORTUGAL

 

And you know what I saw this time?

I saw brave and noble people.
Unbeaten.
I saw passion, PASSION and passion.
I saw strong and triumphant people.
People that transformed a small piece of land (Vimaranes) into one of the biggest empires.
Bold and adventurous people that threw themselves into an ocean with monster tales and uncertainty to explore and reach new highs.
Peaceful people with some of the highest values, morals and ethics Ive ever met.
And I saw stamina. A lot of it. I saw determination and resilience. I saw fortitude and perversity.
I saw a country coming together not as 11 but as 11 million and I saw the most beautiful: I saw team work and UNION..
People that see butterflies while others see moths.
People that are loud YES but passionate like no one else.
People that truly LOVE, people that hug and kiss without worrying about what the others think or say, and I also saw men, women and children that cry without worrying either.
People that are not afraid to show their true emotions as they wear their hearts on their sleeves.
People that teach their children to console, comfort and hug a crying adult.
People that are fundamentally optimist and positive, BELIEVERS..
I saw fighters, I saw warriors, I saw conquers and I saw CHAMPIONS.

That is who we are. Champions.

We are not “Degueulasse” my friends… the ones calling us that way are the true “degueulasses.

And then there’s The Final…. the one that is being called dull and boring. Guess many of you truly missed the point about a championship final and even football.
But I will tell you what happened Sunday night!
We proved that you have been wrong all around. And this is not even about football. This is much deeper than a sport, this is about our dignity.

A game that our opponents, considered the favourite, the chosen ones, the hosts, that were apparently not concerned or afraid to play against us, but choose to shamefully injuring our players instead of actually playing football, and a referee that literally “took the piss” out of our team.

And now the subject we all need to talk about: Cristiano Ronaldo.
No matter where in the world I have been, it is his name that I hear as soon as I mention I am Portuguese. He is our captain. He is our lucky star. He is our National Symbol. 🇵🇹

The best player in the World, Ronaldo is so successful because his hyper sense of competition. And I am not gonna talk much about his personal side which I admire even more, the side that strategically everyone ignores – discreet in his charity endeavours wether towards his countrymen, Nepalese or even the Palestinians, a loyal family man and always proud of his humble roots and his country – to name the basics.

It was 08:08pm when the Portuguese felt terror. We felt desperation. We couldn’t believe. We tried to remain positive but the next minutes became too painful to watch. The struggle was real, Cristiano was limping heavily and his eyes were permanently wet. We could feel his pain.
I bet no Portuguese will ever forget that moment, but also, we will never forget how he tried to return to the field not once but twice so he could give his best to one of the most important nights of his career and our lives.
It was only 24min past the game when we, millions of people, saw in full display Cristiano Ronaldo dreams being taken away from him… and from us. I felt my heart shattering.
We were all crying!

In fact, I cant believe any real football fan could not feel sympathy for Cristiano Ronaldo seeing him struggling to play and breaking down in tears with frustration and desperation when he realize he couldn’t play anymore and being taken out of the pit on that stretcher.

But he came back, with his knee swallow and strapped, struggling to walk and suddenly he became the coach himself, urging his team mates with a unbeaten passion.

How can we forget the strength how he proved the haters that this has never been about him, this was not about his personal glory and his burning and passionate attitude outside the pit, directing, giving instructions and giving moral support to his colleagues.
The team obliged and rose to the occasion. They fought harder than ever and simply didn’t give up. He pushed them all towards glory and they won the game to honour their captain. Eder, a modest and humble player!

It was an emotional and magical moment.

That team: white, black, mixed raced and gypsy came together. The team that truly represents our country and our origins. That symbolize who we are, because we might be poor and small but there’s a place for everyone in our country and in our heart. We believe in UNITY. And Sunday night was all about UNION and bringing people together.

And now we are the Champions.

Thank you Portugal.

Thank you Team.

Thank you Eder

Thank you my family: To watch the games with you guys was just unbelievable. The passion we have is just unbeatable and love how you also believed in our team since the first game. Specially the women – my aunties and cousins – those screams and tears surely were felt all the way in Paris. Also, Chiquinho, Chico you might be a witch but dude, THANKS. Thanks for promise your beautiful long curly hair… you have always said that Eder was going to score the only victory goal – please play the Euromillions and share with us.

And last but not least,
Thank you to all the international friends that actually root for my country and were so supportive this last month. So wonderful to see beautiful messages from Brazil, USA, Canada, UK, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Cambodia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Macau, Japan, China, Taiwan, Australia, Grenada, Indonesia, Malasia, South Africa, France, etc etc etc. You guys rock!!!

Much love,
A proud Portuguese.

‪#‎portugal‬
‪#‎somoscampeoes‬
‪#‎campeoseuropeus‬

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