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Wednesday, 26 March 2014 19:57

Can José Fonte cap eventful few seasons by fulfilling World Cup dream?

jose-fonte-southampton-20120502.jpgPortuguese centre-back José Fonte has defied injury and headbutts to establish himself as a Premier League defender...and now hopes to turn Paulo Bento’s head in time for Brazil.

Southampton captain Jose Fonte still harbours hopes of representing his country at this summer’s World Cup – though the Portuguese FA have yet to get in touch with the defender. The 30-year-old has already realised one dream after helping Southampton cement their place in the Premier League after a meteoric rise from the lower echelons of English football.

Only back in 2009, Fonte and Southampton, who currently lie on the verge of a European spot in the English top flight, were plying their trade in League One, the English third tier.
With the Saints now established as a free-flowing, attacking force in the Premier League, English team-mates that have accompanied Fonte during the club's rapid rise, such as Ricky Lambert, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw, are earning full international honours with Roy Hodgson’s England.

A former Portuguese Under-21, Fonte is yet to earn a full cap for his country, but he still nurses the ambition of making a dream debut come June.

World Cup dream

I have my goals, I have my dreams and obviously I want to be in the World Cup, he told the Southern Daily Echo. If I didn't, I wouldn't be ambitious. What would be the point of playing in the Premier League?
It hasn't happened yet but I will keep working hard and looking forward to get my name on the list. I'm playing in the best league in the world against the best strikers in the world and we're doing well so I don't see why I shouldn't be considered.
Many questioned the leakiness of Southampton’s defence in their Premier League comeback season last term, which led to former Crystal Palace man Fonte and his central defensive partners coming under the microscope.

Injury also blighted Fonte's last campaign, while the centre-back recently made unwanted headlines after being the victim of a headbutt from Saints’ record signing Dani Osvaldo - during a furious training ground row - which ultimately led to the Italian being loaned to Juventus.

However, the ex-Sporting B player and his backline have steadied the ship on and off the pitch and Fonte believes he is currently peaking under the management of Argentine Mauricio Pochettino.

“I'm an improved player

Why can’t I dream about it [the World Cup]? If I keep playing well, I hope I have a chance at least to prove myself. Since Mauricio took over, he’s made me a better player – that’s the truth. I feel good, I feel confident. Physically, I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel like this has been my best season so far.”

Should Fonte make it to the World Cup, he would come full circle with regard to Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who broke through at Sporting when Fonte was at the club.
It is something that you never forget (playing with Cristiano Ronaldo). He was only 15, two years younger than us, but playing already for the Under-18s. He was absolutely fantastic, said Fonte, as reported by Sky Sports.
"He used to make the difference in ways that were unbelievable. He was so gifted. It was a pleasure to be part of the same team as him. He was an inspirational kid.
"He used to go into the showers and do 50 press-ups after training he would be saying, 'come on, let's go, I bet you can't keep up with me'. That just showed his ambition and his will to be the best. He would work harder than anyone else, lift more weights than anyone else and I am honoured to be a part of his career.

by Stephen Gillett

Comments (6)
6 Monday, 31 March 2014 14:38
Thank you so much for posting this article. I simply cannot understand, why has Bento not even called him? I watch plenty of Southampton. This guy is not good, but fantastic. Get him to the team immediately, and you guys will see the dividends. Again there should be outrage in Portugal for Zé!
Fonte in
5 Friday, 28 March 2014 18:36
He is a solid center back in one of the most physical and competitive leagues in the world. He deserves to be in the squad but Bento is set in his repetitive boring ways. I won't be surprised if Fonte doesn't get called up. Shame!
4 Friday, 28 March 2014 13:13
Voice of Reason
Fonte has been very good for Southampton - he is a force in both defending and attacking on corners...a glaring weakness for us. I hope he gets the call - he has proven himself in the best league in the world.

Tom, just a question. Did you happen to read Andy's article talking about Quaresma meriting consideration for the World Cup? Was Andy serious? or do you think he was being provocative?
3 Friday, 28 March 2014 03:23
I have watched a lot of english league games this year and previous years. Southampton is a good team that plays in my opinion the most competitive league in the world. Fonte goes up against Liverpool, chelsea, united, city, arsenal etc. Someone mentioned he is a late bloomer and that is sort of true but I think he might have always been good but nobody really tracked his progression as closely as they should have. I watched Fonte play a week or so ago and he is a good player. In my opinion Bruno Alves is only good in the air and quite frankly I have seen him countless times be out of position and give up plenty of goals. Fonte right now is a better overall player. I think Brunos lack of speed may cost us against quick playing possesion teams. However, brunos size and strength helps with defensive set-pieces against big teams like germany and the united states who will look to capitalize on corner kicks and balls played in from the wing.

I guess what I'm trying to say is Fonte plays against the best offenses in the world on a weekly basis. The english game is full of in-swinging crosses from the outside and tough players and Fonte holds up very well against the best teams in the world. I personally dont think Bruno is better than Fonte and as far as comparing the leagues they play in it is a no brainer that england is way ahead of turkey. Bruno just has the name Bruno Alves but he is no better than Fonte today. If bento calls Fonte up he should play him immediately and start him for a full game. I believe they have two more friendlies so I would have Fonte start the next one and see how he plays. He has to play with Pepe though so they can get a good connection. Bento can't play Fonte with neto or Fonte with Rolando. Fonte has to play with Pepe to see how it goes.
Should be in Brazil
2 Thursday, 27 March 2014 12:04
Jon, I agree. Southampton plays very sound team futebol which allows the defense to hold tight. Fonte has been a key figure at the club, in a good way. He's just might be a late bloomer, but his current form warrants a call up.
Neto has been poor and we know what we're getting from Costa.
A big concern for me is having two "red cards waiting to happen" playing side by side. It's almost a given Pepe or Alves will get booked multiple times.
As for Carrico, I haven't heard a beep about him, so I'm glad to hear his producing. Rolando, fir me, is poor.
Jose Fonte
1 Thursday, 27 March 2014 01:55
I must admit that I haven't watched much of Southampton this season, but by all accounts, Fonte has been playing very well. He is an above-average center-back who starts for a quality side England. He has certainly done more than enough to warrant a national team call-up, but I just don't see it happening.

At the moment, only Pepe and Bruno Alves are guaranteed a spot on the WC squad barring injury. Bento's primary back-ups, Ricardo Costa and Luis Neto are far from convincing. Costa has plenty of experience, but he isn't always a consistent starter at Valencia. Neto has impressed when playing for the Seleccao, but he's been very poor for Zenit - he looked absolutely terrible against Borussia Dortmund in a recent Champions League match.

In addition to Costa and Neto, Bento must also consider Rolando (regular starter for Inter Milan) and Daniel Carrico (has been excellent as both a center-back and defensive midfielder for Sevilla).

Ex-Academica defender, Flavio Ferreira is also playing regularly for Malaga.

I would personally include Jose Fonte and Daniel Carrico as my back-up center-backs but Bento and I rarely agree.

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