Leonardo Oliveira on winning the league

We at Fotbollslivet.se have interviewed Leonardo Oliveira, born in 2005, who a few weeks ago became league champion and won the Campeonato Nacional Sub19 in Portugal.

Champions with your team, how does it feel?
– It feels wonderful! Winning the league is something I dreamed of since I moved to Portugal six years ago, and especially the U19 league because it is the biggest youth league that can be played in Portugal. I have seen star players win this league, like João Felix, Fabio Silva, Antonio Silva and Bernardo Silva. Now I’m sitting here with the same gold medal that I saw them with on TV a few years ago. I am incredibly proud of myself and am grateful for everything the club has done for me. I have had many tough years here, but it is after tough times that you become the strongest.

Why do you win the league?
– We won the league because we played as a team throughout the season. Simply put and that was it. We were a team with many good players. Many players who have played with each other before. I have played with almost half of the team at FC Porto before. Then many of us have gone through difficult times and I think it has made us grow as players but above all as people. I’ve mostly played with the U23s this season (where we came second and lost the league due to head-to-head) so haven’t been very involved, but I helped out in the last three games and that was enough for me to realize what a team atmosphere they had and immediately understood why it led them to being champions. We didn’t win this league because we have the best players, but because we were a team all season long.

How was your performance in the last decisive match?
-I started on the bench due to tactical choices. The team had played with each other all season and they built something really good, so I understood why I started on the bench. But I came in and got to make an assist and also push in a goal at the last second and celebrate with all the fans. It felt like a dream when I saw the ball touch the net.

How would you sum up your season?
– It has been a learning season. I got to play and train with the U19 and U23 and then I also got to train a little with the first team. I have learned a lot. You can see the difference between youth football and senior football. So now I have a clearer view of what level I need to be at in order to get up to the first team, which is my next step. Then I moved from U17 to U23 this season and it was fun and very educational. It was a bit tough at the beginning, especially the physicality and the pace. But it has also made me the player I am now. I will come into next season much more prepared, physically and mentally.

Thanks Leo and congratulations on the gold!