Luis Boa Morte: ‘Nothing to be ashamed of’
Friday 27 July
The most prolific name on the participants list of last weekend’s FIFPro Tournament, was Luis Boa Morte. The former Portuguese international enjoyed the event and has his mind still set on playing top flight football.
Of course, Boa Morte is ambitious. The 34-year old attacking midfielder has played in the English Premier League for thirteen years, wearing the colours of Arsenal, Southampton, Fulham and West Ham United. He has appeared in almost 300 Premier League matches (295 to be precise) and scored 29 goals, before leaving England in the summer of 2011, looking for a new adventure in Greece.
Boa Morte is a free agent after quitting South African side Orlando Pirates in May. He went to the Portuguese professional footballers’ association SJPF and applied for their training camp for players who are looking for a new contract. As a member of Team SJPF, he arrived at the FIFPro Tournament.
‘This tournament is a great opportunity for me and the other players to show our skills in front of a crowd of scouts and agents’, Boa Morte said. ‘It also gives us the opportunity to get match fitness, which is important at this time of the year where clubs are looking for players.’
While Boa Morte has made 28 appearances for the Portuguese national team, none of his sixteen colleagues at Team SJPF has ever played in the Portuguese premier league. Only one other player, Ricardo André, has played in a premier division club, in Bulgaria... Most of the members of Team SJPF can only hope to one day make it to the Premier League.
Nevertheless, at the FIFPro Tournament Luis Boa Morte absolutely behaved as one of the boys: there was no sign of preferential treatment. He helped his younger team mates during matches and training, enjoyed their company at dinner. He was looking every inch a professional footballer; an example to all other players.
In other countries, some first leagues professional footballers shy away from joining their union’s team, as they fear to damage their reputation. Boa Morte wants none of that. ‘Currently, this is my reality. This is nothing to be ashamed of.’
‘I don’t have a club. Instead of training individually, I am now practicing with other players, my colleagues. All players take this FIFPro Tournament very seriously. This is an important tournament if you want to find a new club. Everyone is working very hard and doing his utmost, just because we love to play this game. We want to remain professional footballers. That’s why I say that this is one of the teams I enjoyed playing the most.’
Boa Morte and his Team SJPF lost all three matches at the FIFPro Tournament, but showed their competitiveness during each game. Boa Morte himself showed some flashes of his quality, using his speed and his skills to take on his opponents.
‘I hope to play for another two years, and then I will see how my legs are. Right now I have offers from the English Championship but I still have ambitions for myself and I want to play top-flight football or play for top teams in the Championship.’
Tijs Tummers of the FIFPro Tournament organization committee:
‘A big player such as Luis Boa Morte is a role model for his team. The fact that - despite his great career - he is willing to be one of the members of the squad, is of utmost importance for boosting the self confidence of a group with players who are ignorant about the future of their career as a professional footballer.’
‘This is a fantastic expression of a star’s solidarity with team mates who are less prolific.’
‘We, as FIFPro, can only appreciate such a gesture, and we will at all times try to stimulate this.’
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