Cape Verde national team coach Linkedin summons Irish defender

Cape Verde national team coach Linkedin summons Irish defender

Irish Roberto L‌pez recalls entering LinkedIn on March 29, 2019 and discovering a message from an anonymous person written in an indescribable language.

I did not notice that. Months later came another text from the same sender. Understood a second time. It was in English.

“What’s the matter, Roberto? Have you considered my proposal?”

That question changed his life. It was the gateway for the Shamrock Rovers defender from the Irish League to play for the Cape Verde national team. This Sunday (9), the band will make their team debut in the African Cup of Nations against Ethiopia in the capital of Cameroon, Yaounde.

Lopez copied the original text and added it to the Google Translate. It was sent to the Portuguese. He said the African nation’s federation was aware of his Cape Verdean lineage and had invited him to defend the national team. It was written by the team’s coach Janito Carvalho.

“It’s really crazy. I thought the message was spam [termo que determina propagandas ou ofertas indesejadas enviadas pela internet]. I forgot. When I found out what it was, I replied directly that I wanted to be a part of the cast. From there, everything went very fast. I’m very happy with this opportunity, “Roberto said in English.

To this day he does not speak Portuguese. Asked if he had learned the language of his parents’ country of origin, he took a risk.

“A few.”

“It’s Spanish,” someone on his side points out.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he replies in English.

It does not matter. In his first call-up, the real challenge was his initiation test with the other players in the selection. He had to sing a song in Cape Verde Creole, the daily language of the country. Portuguese is official.

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“Cryolo was very difficult. I was nervous, but I think I did well. The other players made me very comfortable. I was at home,” he adds.

Lopes explains that he accepted the federation’s invitation for two reasons. He had previously visited Cape Verde with his parents, but defending the national team and being in the country represents an opportunity to learn about the history of his ancestors. There is also a football motif.

Born in the suburbs of Dublin, Lopez has a successful career in Irish football. He defended the Bohemians and is now at Shamrock Rovers. They are two of the most popular teams in their home country. He was the national champion in 2020 and 2021 and won the 2019 Irish Cup. You need more to be part of the European team.

The called-ups do not play in the country’s league. They play in England or Scotland because of the quality of football. Ironically, in the 1980s, Ireland was the first federation to seek out athletes born in other countries who could protect their ancestral lands.

The instrument used to play for Roberto L‌pez Cape Verde.

“The quality of African football is very high and the cup is of excellent quality. For me it is on the same level as European competitions,” he praised. “Most of our players play in France. Playing in this tournament is a dream. I’ve always seen it on television.”

This will be Cape Verde’s third partnership. The team that reached the quarter-finals in 2013 lost to Ghana. Two years later it fell to the group stage. This year, in addition to the Ethiopians they will face in their debut, they will be in the brackets alongside Burkina Faso and Cameroon. Two great advances.

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“My family is very proud to be here. I represent our country of origin. My friends in Dublin were very interested in learning more about Cape Verde. It was a great experience,” Lopes said.

He already has his eyes on the future: the World Cup. In the qualifying round of the tournament in Qatar this year, the team lost a place in the third and decisive stages.

Nigeria were two points behind. The competition, which is being hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, is currently targeting 2026.

“It’s very difficult to qualify for the African qualifiers. There are five places. But our last campaign in the qualifiers gave us a lot of confidence that we can do it next time. It’s possible,” he believes.

Maybe he’s the Irish representative in the Worlds. He has not been born since 2002. Given the current state of football on the European and African continents, it would be easier for Cape Verde to qualify than Ireland.

“I talk to people on the team about Dublin well, they’m curious, but when I say cold and rainy, they leave knowingly,” Roberto Lopes laughs.

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