I think it might be interesting to read what António Veloso, former Benfica legend and father of Miguel Veloso, has to say about his son, his career and the current state of Benfica's youth sector.
These are parts of an interview he gave to the Portuguese newspaper "Record" in September 2006.
Dispensed by Benfica:
"Miguel had a problem: he was the son of Veloso"
Record - In what conditions was your son Miguel, now shining at Sporting, was dispensed by Benfica?
Veloso - Miguel had a problem: he was the son of Veloso. He was also chubby, as others that played then with him, but only him was chubby in their eyes...Well, until a certain day, on an international tournament in Frielas, he was left out when Benfica only had 3 centre backs and one of them was injured. Bastos Lopes put Manuel Curto as CB, him that was a forward. At the end of the match I asked him why didn't he put Miguel playing, who was a centre back, when he only had one available. He answered me by saying that he was thinking about having him rather as a left back. There I understood that the kid wasn't going to have any chance to make it at Benfica. I went to speak with Nené and I was told that they were thinking on lending him to Real Massamá. "Don't even think about it" - I said immediately. Meanwhile, I was contacted by people from Cultural da Pontinha, who immediately told me that they were interested on him. A director and the coach of the club spoke to Real Massamá and they agreed a deal. I still have that document and if necessary I will show it to the public if they try to accuse me of lying. Sporting negotiated directly with Cultural da Pontinha and he started playing in the U-17, where, already on his first year, he reached the National Team.
R - Do you confirm that at that point, Benfica wanted him to go back?
V - Yes, shortly afterwards Prof. Rui Oliveira came to Estádio Nacional asking me to talk with Miguel because Benfica wanted him to go back. However Miguel told me immediately that he wouldn't go: "Listen dad, before I was not good enough for Benfica and now, that I reached the NT, I'm good after all?"
R - Isn't it strange for you, that were a symbol of Benfica, to see him playing with Sporting's jersey?
V - No. What I want is that he plays, that he can evolve and be successful. If you ask me if I would prefer that he would be at Benfica, of course I would. But it is not because of me, or because of him, that such thing didn't happen.
R - How do benfiquistas, generally, talk to you about your son?
V - The overwhelming majority congratulates me and tells me "hey man, it's just a shame that the kid is in that little club..."
R - And what about the sportinguistas?
V - Those, in general, ask me to not to take him away from them...
R - What did he inherit from his father, in football terms?
V - Several things, Ambition, the will of playing always, the serenity on the pitch. He is cold, he doesn't tremble...
R - That's true, we could see that against Inter...
V - I was also like that, I didn't care about the name of my opponents. I was not expecting that he would play in that game. He had a good match, but nothing exceptional. The coach asked him to be tactically strict in that central area where Figo and others would show up, and he did it. He did not fear to keep the ball. At the level of the quality of his pass, he is better in the long distance ones, I used to play shorter...He is physically stronger than I was, but needs to improve his game in the air. I've told him already that with his build he doesn't need to be afraid. He needs to be more aggressive defensively.
R - In December, when the next Sporting v Benfica will take place, for whom will you be cheering for?
V - For my son...
R - You mean, for Sporting?
V - For my son...Benfica is my club, but my son is above everything else.
The sad end of his career and Benfica's youth level
R - Is it true that when you finished your career, in 1995, with 38 years old, you did it against your will, by people above you, when you were still feeling capable of playing one more season?
V - Yes, it's true. I felt I was able to play one more year at the same level of the previous season, but I was forced to stop.
R - By whom?
V - I don't know. The person that told me so was Artur Jorge, but if the decision was his, he had, obviously, the entire support of the Board.
R - To compensate they made you an hommage party, but it ended up to be a fiasco with many empty seats...
V - It's even hard for me to talk about it. The party, that consisted of a game between Benfica and a selection of foreign players, was made in August, month of Summer holidays, and there was really very few people attending it. It ended up with a profit of 2700 contos (13.500 euros), of which I've only received 1500 (7.500). Manuel Damásio told me that I was going to get the rest later on. Meanwhile, the Board of Vale de Azevedo took charge and José Capristano promised me that he would solve the question. I am still waiting...I was hurt, mainly because I felt that the hommage that they did to me was not at the level of the career I had of 15 years at the service of Benfica.
R - You returned to Benfica 4 years later, to be assistant coach of Toni, but you ended up sent to coach the B team that meanwhile had already its death sentence decreated. Tell is about that experience in the formation level of Benfica...
V - We had the best team of the Second Division B, with people like Jorge Ribeiro, Geraldo, Bruno Aguiar, Hélder Ramos, Rui Baião...But the Board wanted to lend them, there were many clubs interested. The fact is that they left and I stayed working with the rest. Apart from the team having stayed very weakened, the announcement that they intended to finish with the B team was another factor to take the motivation away from the players. Relegation became unavoidable. Simões, then the Sports Director, informed us that the B team was not going to end when he already knew that it was just going to have one more year, because the rules forced them to do so, and there was even a coach (Carlos Gomes) with a deal ready to replace me, when I still had one more year of contract. He fooled us all. Oh, and I still had to manage players that fall off from the first team such as Maniche, Paulo Madeira, Sabry, Dudic, paid like kings, but that couldn't play...There were times I was training with 33 players...
R - Why were there so few players from the youth levels in the last years that managed to reach the main team?
V - The problem of Benfica's formation is linked with the lack of co-ordination between the formation sector and the technical structure of the first team. What's the point in forming kids id afterwards, during the transition from the U-19 squad to the main team, they are not given any space to be able to develop their potential? If there are no clear guidelines in the sense that the main coach can follow that strategy, he will always prefer to invest in mature players, even if they don't have enough quality to play at Benfica, instead of risking on players coming from the fornation area. Because there are kids with quality...Tiago Gomes, João Coimbra, Manuel Curto, Hélio Roque...but they don't have any chances. How do they want in this way to have a return from their investment in the formation of players? Rui Nereu, Janota, Luís Zambujo, all of them U-17 internationals, they have the same age of my son, and they are clubless. FC Porto has Ivanildo and Vieirinha on their main squad and they are careful enough to place their youing players in teams of the 1st League. Paulo Machado was in Estrela last season went now to U. Leiria, Hélder Barbosa is at Académica...
R - The person responsible for the area of formation, António Carraca, is convinced that Benfica will pass Sporting and FC Porto on a space of two to three years time. Do you believe in that?
V - Well, I want to see it to believe it, like Saint Thomas. The truth is that Benfica, who just finished opening a wonderful training centre that will allow an improvement in the area of formation of players, have a considerable delay regarding the work done by Sporting and FC Porto. And it still exists the problem of lack of co-ordination that I mentioned before...A kid like Moutinho, for example, would probably be stuck without playing in Benfica...Paulo Bento "had them on their place" when in the last season risked on a series of young players knowing that if, he wouldn't present results, he would have his head on a plate. And this season, Sporting could have gone and get another CB for the place left empty by Moisés, and they didn't do it, It was a daring bet, as my son is 20 years of age, he lacks experience, although Paulo Bento knew that Caneira and Miguel Garcia can play as centre backs too.
"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”