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Portuguese production line rolls on
Friday 26 April 2002
As the 2001/02 UEFA European Under-17 Championship begins in Denmark, uefa.com looks at the Portuguese players who have gone on from UEFA youth competitions to achieve fame and fortune.



Portugal lift the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship
(©2002 empics)


Future glory
UEFA youth competitions can point the way to future footballing glory, as shown by the impressive array of Portuguese players who have graduated from the UEFA European Under-16 Championship (the forerunner of the new Under--17 format) to further honours over the last decade.

Green shoots
In 1989 Portugal's full international side were in the midst of a ten-year slump which would see them fail to qualify for four major tournaments in succession. However the green shoots of recovery were evident as the country's youth teams enjoyed a vintage year.



Portugal celebrate their 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship win
(©2002 empics)


Figo and Xavier
Defender Abel Xavier and playmaker Luis Figo were both part of the side that thrashed the German Democratic Republic 4-1 to win the European Under-16 Championship and also reached the semi-finals of the FIFA Under-17 World Championship. The same year in Saudi Arabia João Pinto, a former Under-16 international himself, helped Portugal win the FIFA World Youth Championship with a 2-0 win over Nigeria in Riyadh.

Brazil beaten
Two years later, on home soil, Figo joined João Pinto in the Portugal squad for the next FIFA World Youth Championship, helping the country retain the crown with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory against Brazil.

World-record fee
Xavier went on to play for PSV Eindhoven and Everton FC among others, as well as appear for his country at EURO 2000™. Earlier this season he negotiated a move across Merseyside to join Liverpool FC, helping them to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Figo’s path to fame and fortune would see him star at EURO 96™ and EURO 2000™, as well as command a world-record transfer fee when he moved from FC Barcelona to Real Madrid CF. To date he has won 81 caps for his country and scored 27 goals, records that have only been bettered by Fernando Couto and Eusebio respectively.

Breeding ground
Between 1990 and 1994 Portugal failed to win the European Under-16 Championship but the tournament still proved a continual breeding ground for a succession of highly talented talents en route to professional football and the Seleção. Kenedy and Hugo Porfirio (1990); Dani (1991); future EURO 2000™ sensation Nuno Gomes (1992); goalkeeper Quim and recent international Nuno Miguel Frechaut (1994) were all blooded in the tournament.

Conveyor belt of talent
Portugal regained the Under-16 trophy in 1995 and retained it in 1996, with future internationals Hugo Leal and Simão Sabrosa among the squad in the latter tournament as the conveyor belt of talent rolled on. If the last ten years are anything to go by, the side in maroon, gold and green will be worth watching over the next two weeks in Denmark, not only for their silky Latin skills, but because they may well contain a few faces who go on to become the Figos of tomorrow.

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Dudes, I'm very excited about the next 10 years of Portuguese football. It should prove to be just as exciting as the last 10. Portugal has won more youth tournaments than any other country in Europe in the last 3 years. That's exciting news for all of us. Just thought I'd share this with you.

Now smile.:)
 

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Yeah its good to see something is being done right in Portugal !!
Our junior academies have a really good record over the years, but the thing that concerns me is the drop off rate. Meaning the number of junior stars who dont seem to take the next step. But yes... we seem to get by
 
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Portugals one flaw is they dont produce enough strikers. we only have one at the moment which is Postiga in the U21!
 

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Our Problem is most teams get bigger and more physical than what we do!
 

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manuel said:
Portugals one flaw is they dont produce enough strikers. we only have one at the moment which is Postiga in the U21!
Unfortunately, this is very true. However, remember this name:

Christiano Ronaldo!

He's 17 and is a member of this U-17 National Team. He scores goals by the boat-load and don't be surprised if he cracks Sporting's line-up next season, ala Quaresma/Viana did this season.
 
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