Mendes: "I'd love to finish at Guimaraes" PDF Print E-mail

“I’d love to end my career at Guimaraes”

Guimaraes StadiumI ask Mendes if he ever regrets leaving that Porto team. “No, one thing I can say is that I never regret any step I made in my career. I’m very proud of my career. Every step I made, I thought about it in my head, went to the new club and put heart and body (into it).”

I comment that as well as his success, all of his transfers have been very sudden – Porto to Spurs, Spurs to Portsmouth and Portsmouth to Rangers. Mendes laughs, “Yes, one year (for success) and transfers in one day! From Porto to Spurs was a quick one. Tuesday I got the phone call and Thursday I was on the plane. From Portsmouth to Rangers, it was a Thursday phone call and I was on the plane on the Friday. Both of them quick transfers, but I was happy with both of them.”

Premiership best league in the world

Mendes knew that after his phenomenal success, going abroad was the best thing to do to progress. He knew the English Premiership was the best destination for him as well. “The Premier League is the best league in the world. When the car stops outside your door and says ‘Do you want to come to the Premier League?’ you never know if that car will stop again. So, you need to think properly. You think, okay this is the best thing for my career at the moment, and you take the ride. I’m very happy I took the ride, happy with the choice I made.”

I ask whether he or his agent have ever been contacted by Porto, or any other Portuguese team, about a return to Portugal since he made the move to the UK. He lets slip a small smile before putting his best ‘serious face’ on and replying, “Uh…well there’s no point in talking about that…no point in talking about it.”

He is just as reluctant to talk about his potential involvement with the Portuguese national team. He has two caps to his name, one of which was obtained as a second-half substitute during a 2-0 victory over Scotland in Braga in November, 2003. Many felt he was unfortunate not to be selected under previous Portugal manager, Luis Felipe Scolari.

Mendes, however, is not keen to dwell on the international could-have-beens. Even though his recent call-up under Carlos Queiroz was a source of pride, he is unsure whether it will lead to anything more permanent in the Portuguese set up. “I dunno. I’ll just keep working hard here at Rangers, do my best, do my best for the club. Hopefully win the title. If another call comes, good. If not…life goes on.”

Ronaldo up there with Eusebio and Figo

Mendes is far more forthcoming when asked to discuss the current star of Portuguese football, Cristiano Ronaldo. I ask whether Mendes thinks the 23-year-old Manchester United star could, in future, be considered alongside Eusebio and Luis Figo as one of the greats of Portuguese football. Mendes is emphatic in his response:

“I think he’s up there already. Eusebio and Luis Figo are the only Portuguese players to win the Ballon d’Or, and he (Cristiano Ronaldo) won it this year. I think he’s at that stage, and he’s still young. He can only get better. He can only get better and bigger as a person, I think he’s such a talented and gifted football player.”

If Scotland is a good place to call home for the time being, his hometown of Guimaraes will always take the permanent title. “When I finish my adventure abroad I’d love to go back and play with Vitoria Guimaraes again. Guimaraes is my town, that’s where I feel good, that’s where I want to live when I go back. My family and friends are all there.

“It depends what age I finish playing abroad but if I feel fit enough, if I feel capable enough and if of course, the gaffer and director want me…then of course I’d be happy to go back and play for them.”

I ask whether coaching Guimaraes in the future is an enticing prospect. Another big smile and a pause, “Phew…there’s still a long way to go. I’m not sure what I want to do. We’ll need to see what happens but I’d love to be involved with Guimaraes in some part of the game.” At the very least, always a supporter? Mendes says: “Oh, always a supporter. For sure. I’ll always have my seat in the stadium.”

by Duncan Hare (19 December 2008)

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