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U-19 Euro

We will never throw in the towel, says Portugal coach after upset in the final

Most of them fell down as soon as the final whistle blew. Carlos Borges was frozen near the locker room. Miguel Falé, thrown in the grass, had to be pulled up by the assistant coach, because he couldn’t stand up alone. How would he? Favorite to be champions at the UEFA U19 Championship, the Portuguese watched the trophy slip through their fingers.

They had won all four matches at the final tournament, but not this one. The dream was over for them.

“This was one of the most important games of our lives. It was a big dream we had”, says Samuel Justo, with a calm voice, still trying to put things together in his mind.


It takes time to understand, and the feeling is even harder to describe, but you could see it in their eyes. Tears clogged their throat as Portugal took the silver medal and respectfully watched the Italians with the golden ones. The suffering, though, isn’t all.

“Each of us suffer in our own way, but what I feel is that we must be proud of ourselves”, says Samuel with an encouraging smile.


And that’s what coach Joaquim Milheiro taught them. Almost one hour after the final whistle, he leaves the locker room with a smile and, even though his eyes appear to show sadness, he tries to stay strong for his young players.

“I gave a comforting speech to them”, he says, “I said that I am extremely proud. We have to be resilient to overcome this pain and clear the tears so that the sun can shine again.”


Portugal played six finals since 2002, when the tournament adopted the current format as the U19 Championship, but won only one at this period and precisely against Italy.

Despite the numbers, the Portuguese have been growing its work with youth football, highlighting stars at this team – such as Gustavo Sá, Gonçalo Ribeiro and Hugo Felix, for example – and that’s what they want to bring home.

“This is a learning process and even in this moment of pain,” Milheiro says, taking a long breath before continuing, “even in this moment of frustration, we are going to be able to heal the scars. It’s gonna help us in the future and I feel really proud. We will never throw in the towel.”

Credit: AIPS Media

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