Player Profile: Ricardo PDF Print E-mail

RicardoFull name: Ricardo Alexandre Martins Soares Pereira

Position: Goalkeeper

Date of Birth: 11 February 1976

Birthplace: Montijo, Portugal

While there is a distinct lack of club silverware in Ricardo’s trophy cabinet, the Sporting goalkeeper’s ability to rise to the occasion when it really matters at international level has propelled him to fame.

A superb shot-stopper and a penalty-saving specialist, Ricardo initially intended to pursue a professional football career as a striker. His ability between the posts soon changed those ideas, but his impeccable footwork is a useful added asset to his goalkeeping prowess.

In 1994/95 Ricardo began his career playing in the regional leagues for his home-town club, Montijo, 30 kilometers south of capital. His performances soon caught the eye and he was snapped up by top-flight outfit Boavista, and quickly became the club’s undisputed number one.

Stunning championship conquest

Ricardo was a key member of the Boavista side that stunned the Portuguese football fraternity in the 2000/01 season by winning the national championship, becoming the first club outside the big three to do so for over fifty years. Creditable showings in the Champions League followed, and in 2003/04 Ricardo first exhibited his uncanny knack for saving penalties to a wider audience as Boavista embarked on an epic run to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.

At the end of the season the goalkeeper moved to Sporting where he again enjoyed success in Europe as the Lions made it to the final of the UEFA Cup in 2005, only to suffer a heartbreak defeat in the final played in their own stadium against CSKA Moscow. Four excellent seasons at Sporting during which time he was Portugal’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper under Luiz Filipe Scolari came to an end when Ricardo left the Lisbon club for La Liga outfit Real Betis.


Spanish adventure

A good start in Spain was followed by Ricardo’s most difficult period as a professional footballer. After losing his place as a regular for the Seville-based club, Ricardo had to endure a barrage of criticism for a poor performance as fancied Portugal crashed out of Euro 2008 against Germany. New national team coach Carlos Queiroz summarily dropped the ‘keeper from the squad.


To his credit, Ricardo accepted the decision gracefully, promising to work hard to get back into the international picture. In 2008/09 Ricardo won back his place in the Betis team and earned glowing praise from the Spanish press for a series of impressive displays, raising the possibility of a recall to the Portugal squad.


International career

It was at EURO 2004 that Ricardo first truly hit the heights, when facing England in the quarter-final penalty shootout. At a packed Estadio da Luz the teams were involved in a seemingly never-ending penalty shootout, when Ricardo took the unorthodox decision to take off his gloves.

He later admitted the gesture was intended simply to put off Darius Vassell, and it worked as Ricardo flung himself to his left to push away the spot-kick. With his adrenalin pumping Ricardo grabbed the ball and insisted on taking the next penalty kick, subsequently dispatching a text-book shot low and hard into the bottom corner to earn himself instant national-hero status and trigger wild celebrations throughout the country.

Incredibly, history would repeat itself on an even bigger stage two years later as England and Portugal did battle again in the quarter-finals, this time at the World Cup in Germany. Ricardo was again England’s nemesis, even surpassing his previous heroics by brilliantly saving three penalties to send Portugal into the semi-finals.

by Tom Kundert (last updated 05/04/2009) 

Real Betis**320

* League appearances only

** Up to 5 March 2009

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