AS I type this post, the Portuguese National Football team has taken to the streets of Lisbon and is being showered in adoration and love. You see, the team won its first major football title the 2016 UEFA European Championship – and it was special.
Now I don’t claim to know a lot about football, or soccer as we Aussies like to call it, even though I grew up on the sport watching my dad play.
But what I do know is this was a moment in history that Portuguese people everywhere will remember forever.
Not in a million years did anyone expect Portugal to progress through the finals, let alone win the final against home team France.
Portugal hadn’t won a game against the French since 1975.
Plus it was their home ground and our captain and hero Cristiano Ronaldo had come off injured; nobody gave them a chance. And why would they?
Still they held the hopes of everyone associated with this little country, known for pasteis de nata (custard tarts) and charcoal chicken, in this one game.
I’ve got to be honest, I couldn’t watch the tournament.
Having watched so many losses, I thought I was jinxing them (a Portuguese trait only Portuguese people will understand) but come 3am Monday morning, I couldn’t tear myself away from it.
The jubilation, the tragic irony of captain Ronaldo bowing out in the first half and then then jubilation again from an unlikely hero in Eder who had only played 13 minutes in the tournament and scored the winning goal in the 109th minute during extra time. It was history making and a moment I will never forget.
More than this, it has put Portugal in the spotlight and everyone is talking about this little country I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with almost 20 years ago.
Portugal is beautiful, it is majestic, it is serene, it is gothic and baroque and a place I think everyone should visit in their lifetime.
I left my heart there all those years ago and I’m hoping to get back there in the not so distant future.
In the meantime I’m off to watch the replay, while sipping a poncha maracuja and enjoying a pastel de nata.