Roberto Lpez could not have imagined what would have happened if Rui Aguas had not shown enough perseverance to send him a second message.
The former Cape Verde coach joined the Shamrock Rovers defense in 2018 via LinkedIn. He wanted to discuss his chances of playing for the national team as he qualified through his father. Lopez ignored him. He does not speak Portuguese.
“I opened a college account years ago and used it sparingly,” he says. Air Sports. “You get these spam messages, I thought it was something else. Fortunately, he answered in English. This is what started me on this incredible adventure. “
Three years later, the Dublin-born Lopez still plays for the Shamrock Rovers. Everything else has changed. He is currently in Cameroon in preparation for the 2021 Africa Nations Cup.
Aside from the constant worry that “this will be your unlucky day and that you will test positive”, there is nothing but excitement. “I can not wait,” he said. “I have been excited about this tournament since we qualified. I’m so excited about this. “
That call was more than enough to change his career. It changed his life.
“I go to places where I never go on vacation. When I see their appreciation for opening my mind. I’m excited to try new things now. I look forward to learning the language and culture, to discover Africa as a continent. “
Senegal was beautiful. The trip to Rwanda is especially special. “The country has a terrible history, but I was fascinated by it. The people were very nice. We were able to visit the cemetery and it was really shocking, but it was important to see. “
It was not just the experiences that changed him.
It is its own relationship with its own roots.
“It simply came to our notice then. Maybe I didn’t care as much as I could or needed to. Trying to immerse yourself in it. “
Although he still has a family on the island, Father Carlos left when he was 16 years old. Was a shipmaster working in Belgium, and a casual encounter led to a job offer on a ferry to Ireland. “He went with them and fell in love with Ireland and my mother, and the rest is history. “
It was such a pleasure to be in touch with Cape Verde again. “My dad was very proud when I made my debut. I think I put Cape Verde on the map of Ireland because everyone I meet is amazed. The journeys I make and the places I see resonate with me. “
This change is all the more remarkable since Lopez left a professional career a long time ago. “I have always been a realist. I was 22 years old and played in my favorite Irish league but thought the opportunity to play abroad was over. “
He worked for two years as a mortgage advisor in a bank. “The Irish league was not very strong at the time. You don’t get a mortgage on this, so I thought I should find a career if I want to continue playing football. “
But he quickly realized that the bank was not his and returned to football. “I had more to offer and I did not appreciate the work. Shamrock opted for a full-time professional contract with Rovers. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made. “
The 29-year-old is now a top player. Partly because of the opportunity to play in Cape Verde. “It took my game – physically and mentally – to another level,” he explains.
“The competition you face gives you the confidence to take it to the next level. You go back to your club and decide to stay with it, because you know the quality will be high again the next time you meet the national team. “
This may come as a surprise to some, but there is quality in the team.
“It opened my eyes, because here in Ireland we think the Premier League is the best. Others do not get the credit they deserve. We have players from Turkey and Bulgaria, where they are of excellent quality. We think it can really hurt us. Teams. “
Sunday January 9 6:55 pm
They will be tested in this tournament. The first is Ethiopia, but a match is also being played against the Cameroonian hosts in front of a crowd of 60,000 in Yaounde.
“Having a host in our group is a good thing and a bad thing. You know they have full support, but at the same time we can play in front of a huge crowd in one of the biggest tournaments. All games will be tough, but I’m looking forward to it. “
It was an experience he had almost lost.
“Looking back now, I can’t believe how rude I was to ignore it because it was Portuguese. All I had to do was copy and paste it into Google Translate, which I did later.
“I am blessed and grateful to Rui Aguas for giving me the time and patience to write in English. I have learned my lesson ever since. I check LinkedIn every day. Since that post, I have not looked beyond a single post on LinkedIn. “
Watch Ethiopia vs Cape Verde live on Sky Sports football on Sundays from 6:55 pm; Kick off at 7 p.m.
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