Friday, February 18, 2011

THE Academy of Wingers

The Sporting Lisbon Academy’s never ending conveyor belt of world class wingers yielded them the ISO 9001. It is the only academy in Europe to receive this quality certificate awarded by EIC. The academy was recently renamed the Sporting\Puma Academy to reflect the sponsorship.

Amongst the wingers who came from this academy, the legendary Luis Figo. He is Portugal’s most capped player and was the ring leader of the so-called golden generation which included the likes of Rui Costa, Joao Pinto and Nuno Gomes. Figo went on to reach dizzy heights playing for Real Madrid where he won the European and the World Player of the Year accolades. He later joined Inter Milan.

Luis Boa Morte hasn’t really reached his full potential, in Lisbon, his form tempted Arsenal to sign him but failed to perform as many thought he would. He is now playing for West Ham United. Simao Sabrosa played his best football for Athletico Madrid. He has been a regular for the Portuguse national team and recently joined Turkish giants Besiktas alongside Ricardo Queresma.

Queresma might have flopped at Inter he shined very brightly for archrivals Porto, inspiring them to successive league titles. The trio of Figo, Simao and Queresma left Sporting for Barcelona but it was Figo who lived up to the expectations, in match winning displays resulted in a move to Real Madrid.

When Gerrard Houllier tried to sign a 16 year old boy from Sporting, Liverpool told him the boy was still young and needed time to develop his skills. He had seen an extra-ordinary talent in Cristiano Ronaldo. CR7 was so talented such that he played for the U-16, 18, B team and the senior team within one year. Alex Ferguson lured the boy to England to become the first Portuguese to play for Manchester United and the rest is history. He went on to win the European and World Player of the Year awards whilst still at Old Trafford.

His 80m Pounds move to Real Madrid is and will for a long time be biggest amount paid for an individual. In 2007, Cape Verde born Nani followed CR7’s route to Old Trafford where he has force his way into the starting line up and is now a key player as well as a crowd favorite.

Manchester United’s relationship with Sporting took a turn when Queiroz’s pursuit of Miguel Veloso didn’t please Sporting and was seen as unsettling him and disrespecting the agreement between the two sides. Sporting later cut ties with United and romped in across town rivals Manchester City to have first preference on their upcoming stars.

I’m still looking forward to the much promising Academia Sporting Africa, an initiative between Sporting Lisbon and the South African Premier League team, Bloemfontein Celtic. The academy will be based in Bloemfontein, its set to boast local talent as Celtic will be given a chance to loan or sign players. Sporting will then send a technical director, chief scout and a U-19 coach. Currently Sporting has agreements two other academies, Al Ahly Club Academy of Saudi Arabia and the Belgian side, The Cercle Brugge Academy.

The Sporting Lisbon Academy was the camp of Portugal on their road to the final of the European Championships in 2004. Popularly known as Sporting Lisbon, the club has accepted the name to avoid confusion with teams like Sporting Braga, Sporting Gijon while UEFA use Sporting CP. Their real name is Sporting Club de Portugal.

By Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu and