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Sunday, 06 January 2013 01:00

High-flying Antunes aiming for Selecção

Interview with Paços de Ferreira left-back

Antunes20070622.jpgFive years ago Vitorino Antunes was riding the crest of a wave. Just 20 years old, his brilliant displays for Paços de Ferreira had made him a full Portugal international and earned him a dream move to Serie A giants Roma. But his time in Italy was injury-blighted and largely frustrating. Now back at Paços, Antunes is recapturing the form that had him marked as a future star of the game.

PortuGOAL caught up with Antunes after another fine display from the defender helped Paços beat Sporting at the Alvalade. The 25 year-old talks about tonight’s game, how his Italian experience matured him as a player, his dreams of returning to the Selecção, the brilliant season Paços are enjoying and the role played in the success by coach Paulo Fonseca.
 

To watch the interview (in Portuguese) click the play button on the screen. An English transcript is provided below.
 

 
Q. Your thoughts on the game?
“It was an important victory. We came here to play against a good team. Everybody knows they (Sporting) are quality players who are going through a rough patch. We came to play our own game. I think we had good possession in the first half. We scored the goal with perhaps the only chance we had, but I think we played a good game, with a lot of hard work and showing a lot of fight.

“I think the result was fair because both us and Sporting created very few chances. From the only glaring chance in the game we scored – apart from the Capel header onto the post – but we managed to score and so I think we deserved it.”
 
Q. Sporting are having an awful season, Paços are having a brilliant season. Even so did you expect to come here and win the game?
“Our objective was to come here and win the three points, and we did it. We have been taking it game by game, trying to win every match. People are recognising that we are playing good football and going for the three points no matter where we play, and that’s what happened today. We didn’t play like a small team; we played like a team with a lot of maturity that’s going through a great moment of form, and which wants to guarantee its place in the top flight as quickly as possible.”
 
Q. Personally how have things been going for you after being somewhat forgotten?
“Personally things have been going well. Also the good form of the team helps a lot. I think things are going well for me thanks to the good moment the team is having. Really, I did get forgotten after going to Italy, but now I’m back at Paços de Ferreira and things are going well. I hope it continues.”
 
Q. Things didn’t work out for you in Italy, but even so do you think you grew as a player?
“Yes, of course. When you don’t have a lot of playing time, I think it’s in training that you can gain a lot of experience. Training with players of great quality, with coaches of great quality, you learn. Whenever you want to learn, you can learn. I didn’t play much because of lack of opportunities, but I think I developed as a player and now I’m more mature, and if things continue like this, God willing, things will go well.”
 
Q. How about the Selecção? Are you hoping for a return?
“Of course. Any player in the world dreams of playing for his country. I know it’s something that is very difficult, but if it happens again, I will be extremely happy. Playing for the Selecção is an objective for any player.”
 
Q. Paços are in the semi-finals of the League Cup, quarter-finals of the Portuguese Cup and well placed in fourth in the league. What are the objectives of the team now?
“The first objective is to guarantee our top-flight status. In the cups we have to take it game by game. Obviously we are going to try and get through to the next rounds, in the knowledge that it will be difficult because we have to play good teams, first Sporting again (in the League Cup), then in the Portuguese Cup Gil Vicente. We know they are tough teams but we’ll be playing to win and to qualify for the next round for sure.”
 
Q. Your coach Paulo Fonseca is having a brilliant debut season in the top flight. What’s your opinion of him? How far can he go?
“He didn’t get to the first division by chance, because in previous years he has managed brilliant achievements at all the clubs he’s been at. He took his teams far in the Portuguese Cup, Pinhalnovense, Aves, and at Aves he almost took the team to promotion, only missing out through some bad luck. I think the fact the team is where it is and is playing the football it is, is very much down to the coach. Of course on the pitch it’s the players who make the decisions, but the lion’s share of the work is down to the coach, who deserves to be in the top division.”
 
by Tom Kundert
 
Comments (3)
Great Interview Tom...
3 Sunday, 06 January 2013 15:17
I know it must be difficult to round up these players for interviews even for a press member as they are so wary to talk because of the tabloid media.

It is not like MMA where the fighters are so much more media friendly you could get interviews from some of the best just starting out, I interviewed some great fighters back in the day and it was fairly easy. So hats off for getting us this gem.

This is where I go off on my Italy rant.. sorry Jon we love you but it is a wasteland especially for young talented players. It is different if you are a Figo, Costa or even Gomes high ranking international players. For younger folk they don't really care for flare and if you get too fancy they will crush your knees with a tackle.

As soon as Antunes & Pele were slated to go to Italy I already knew they would be wasted. Especially Antunes who looked ready for prime time. I don't blame the Italians they're a little xenophobic.. and rightly so.. unlike JJ and his Portuguese counter-parts they don't have to be forced to play Italian youth in Italy. It is their preferred choice. As it should be. So it is never my recommendation for any Portuguese to go there.. especially the youth. The Italians focus more on defensive systems that do not translate well, to flair oriented players. I cringe every time someone mentions interest in Nani in Italy, like Quaresma that would be his death bed. either by injury.. or lack of playing time.

The best foreign league for Portuguese will always be the EPL, they respect flair in a fast moving play.. even La Liga has followers that care little for Portuguese.. as they look down on them, we are beneath them in their minds, and they haven't taken too well to us beating them over the years.

Even their last couple of victories over us needed an offside goal & a Penalty shoot-out to get it done... not like the 4 goal beating we put on them recently.

Anyways like the others I am a big fan of Antunes and am glad to see him playing consistently & well.. it is no surprise to me.

He still has a role for the National Team going forward and although Coentrao is better.. Coentrao could also be used at DM as he has for Real at times.. as we need someone there that can defend.. Veloso is more of a play-maker than he is a defender.. so I would welcome that line-up.. and like Eddie says he has a great shot from the outside which would add to our arsenal in breaking defenses down especially when they are parking the bus.

Once again Tom great interview...

Follow me @orlandomaxxx

Also my condolences go out to Joao Cancelo & his family in this tragic time of need..
Great Interview! So Happy Antunes Is Back!
2 Sunday, 06 January 2013 02:13
He was always a quality player left back! Im a Sporting supporter but Im so happy that Antunes is doing well and that his team Pacos is in such great form and position in the league so that he can get the recognition again and hopefully get back in the national team! He's definitely a good left back and with Antunes and Fabio we'd have great quality and depth in that position! Wow!

He played really well today too! Showed good strength and pace and defended and attacked well! I think he really has matured like he says. In his early days he maybe used to be all about attacking attacking maybe leaving his team somewhat vulnerable in defense but I see great maturity in his play now in that he knows when is the time to defend and when to help the attack. He chooses his moments wisely and that added to his natural talent he is a very solid good player!

His left foot is a beauty to behold! I have to admit when he ran up the field and was about to strike that left footed shot on goal vs Patricio, I was trembling lol lol. Thank goodness he's having good fortune in his career now and may it continue and may he shine for club and hopefully country soon! He's earned it! Well done Antunes!!! Keep it up!!!
Interesting interview!
1 Sunday, 06 January 2013 01:49
I'm glad to see Antunes back in Portugal. He defintiely had the quality to play in Italy for Roma, but he was never given a proper chance. If I recall correnctly, he was named the man of the match in a Champions League game against Man United. I know he was frequently injured, but he still deserved more playing time after showing so much promise.

He's pretty solid defensively (did very well against the tricky Jeffren), energetic, and excellent going forward. He's no Coentrao, but he's still more than capable of playing for the Seleccao. I'm tired of seeing the likes of Miguel Lopes, Nelson, and Silvio play left-back when players like Antunes, Luisinho, and Eliseu are left at home.

We have plenty of talent waiting for their chance to shine, but it's up to Bento to give them this chance.

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