Back in the day, there was real talk suggesting that this guy was going to be bigger and better than Cristiano Ronaldo. No, I’m not kidding …
Sporting Lisbon have been home to a number of great youngsters, and Ricardo Quaresma is no exception. Born a stone’s throw away from the stadium itself, it seemed that the precocious Portuguese talent was destined to put on that fabled green jersey of his local city’s most famous institution. And tbf to him … it didn’t take very long.
At first, developing in the club’s ‘B’ team (or what we would refer to as ‘reserves’ or some form of developmental age-focused setup), it soon dawned on them that the club needed that little something different up front in order to be a real threat in the Portuguese First Division. Plus, given the precedent set by the likes of Luis Figo before him (who donned their first team strip between 1989-1995), the young pretender was given his fair shot.
Strictly speaking (as a neutral), I’ve never been one in support of situations where players as young as Ricardo Quaresma at this time are given too much responsibility too soon. Especially when the club is as big as Sporting Lisbon, and are tasked with bringing them back to some form of prosperity that they weren’t involved in during times gone by. Kinda gives me those Adnan Januzaj under David Moyes at Manchester United vibes.
Having said that, it ultimately comes down to the mindset of the player and the understanding of the task at hand presented by the club and their manager. I’m glad to say, in this case, it worked out for the best for pretty much everybody involved, with fans soon ranting and raving about that exciting kid on the right wing.
As a player, you’ll be hard pressed to find somebody as exciting and free-flowing as Ricardo Quaresma in his earlier years. Unrestrained by expectations nor a stifling tactical decision from head coach László Bölöni, his tricks, flicks, dainty moves and powerful runs became commonplace whenever he faced up against one of his opponents.
Probably what you would call an ‘Inside Forward’ today, his role is one which pretty much every big club has today, and the fact that he was ambidextrous (or at least, appeared to be), was a blessed relief for Sporting Lisbon fans everywhere. Which is why it’s a little presumptuous of any of us to put him in that box of being just a ‘right winger’ or a ‘left winger’. How about we just go for a ‘winger’ who ‘did what he wanted to do’. For better or worse …
With time, Ricardo Quaresma soon became known for a number of his signature moves. One in particular, ‘the travela’ was something which Lisbon fans saw in relative short supply. Instead, his earlier years were dominated with a number of twists, turns, Rabona flicks and Maradona turns. Exactly what the young fans would have adored.
As we know (and as many pundits have the pleasure of reminding us), his forthcoming time on the pitch was a myriad of bad decisions and poor relationships which stagnated his career away from the trajectory many of us had expected of him. But instead of focusing on just the negative end to one’s career, what’s the problem with remembering why they were revered and where those expectations come from?
Exactly! Nothing. For the young Ricardo Quaresma was a bold, confident and altogether stunning footballer.