Portuguese community left sighing after Ronaldo’s men bow out

by Sam Courtney-Guy

The notion of a shock exit was hollowed out by the end of this World Cup – but that didn’t make Russia 2018 any easier for Lambeth’s Portuguese fans.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s countrymen and women turned out in large numbers to cheer on their side screens in Stockwell’s Portuguese bars and restaurants.
Many had high expectations, particularly after an historic and hard-fought victory in the Euro Championships in 2016.

Estrela Bar, a local hub for Portuguese football fans, was fully booked days in advance of every game. Before Portugal’s last-16 defeat to Uruguay, bar manager Ricardo Vasconcelos said he was eagerly awaiting council approval for a 250-seat viewing area for the final.

Fans’ verdicts on a relatively disappointing showing varied starkly. Martinho and Paula of fishmonger Madeira So Peixe lamented their team’s “poor attitude”, while a group of red and green-clad revellers outside homely restaurant Grelha D’Ouro accepted defeat with a sigh: “A game is a game,” they agreed.

They differed on who to support in the final stages. Brazil was the natural choice for many, while Portuguese retiree Chabs said he would back the Three Lions.

Lambeth’s Portuguese community is thought to be the largest outside the Republic. Their language is the second-most spoken in the borough. Lambeth is also home to FC Porto’s London branch, which is recruiting boys and girls aged 7-21.

Earlier this year, a group of Portuguese-speaking members of West Norwood’s BIGKID Foundation were shortlisted for the Youth Social Action Award for organising a football tournament for youngsters from various Lusophone backgrounds, such as Brazil and Angola.

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