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Saturday, 10 April 2010 16:41

“I would run to Portugal to sign for Porto” - Hannover’s Sergio Pinto

Midfielder unsure on future

Despite playing for over ten years in one of Europe’s strongest league competitions, Hannover’s Portuguese midfielder Sergio Pinto remains an almost complete unknown in his home country.

Born in Vila Nove de Gaia, Pinto moved to Germany with his parents at the age of 12, since when he has played almost constantly for clubs in the Bundesliga. Starting at Schalke, Pinto moved to Alemannia Aaachen in 2004 and on to Hannover in 2007, making over 165 league appearances and playing in European competition.

However, when he visits Portugal, the 29 can expect to enjoy his breaks back home with complete anonymity. “I can go home to Portugal and be as comfortable as anyone. Only once have I ever been approached by someone and they were Germans who recognised me,” Pinto told Maisfutebol last week.

“I have played for many years at a high level in Germany and nobody in Portugal knows it. But I am Portuguese - a proud northerner! I'll never represent the Portuguese national side, I accept that, but I will always be Portuguese.”

Having now lived most of his life in Germany, Pinto, who has taken up citizenship, admits it was a tough process to settle initially. “The Germans are quite distant and cold. They only relax when they gain confidence. I have good friends and the people are fantastic, but generally the environment is like this. It was difficult to adapt, but now I‘m at home here.

“The best thing about German football? Any team can fill their grounds. This makes the difference; I love playing with lots of people watching.”

Porto dream

Pinto was on the books of FC Porto as a youngster and, with a decision to make regarding his future at the end of the season, admits that a return home to finally play in Portuguese football would be appealing.

“My contract with Hannover ends in June 2010. We need to talk and see what is best for me. I do not mind playing in the second division. Most of all, I try to be happy. Of course I would like to return to my country. But there’s not much use talking about it now because I have no offer.

“Which team? FC Porto! I’ve always been passionate about the club. I was watching the final of the 2004 Champions League alongside my father, with scalf and flag. If the opportunity arose to play for Porto, I would run from Germany to Portugal.

“But I’m not a player who can be on the bench. I need to play 30 games a year. Porto have a great squad and it would not be easy to get a place in the team.”

By Sean Gillen

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