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05 Jan 2020
“I am now a reference for all players of the sport“
Interview with Jordan Santos, Best Player of the Year
At the start of 2019, when asked about the season ahead of him and the Portuguese national beach soccer team, Jordan Santos replied with four simple words: "This year is different.”
Even in his wildest dreams he could never have imagined how much his words would become reality. Nine months later he is the proud owner of an Olympic gold medal, a second FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title and, on top of that, he is now officially the best beach soccer player in the world.
Portugal also retained the Mundialito, won their debut CFA Belt and Road Championship in Haikou, China and a record sixth Euro Beach Soccer League.
If these incredible feats weren’t enough, at club level Jordan also won the Mundialito de Clubes and the Euro Winners Cup with SC Braga.
Throughout these tournaments he picked up four MVP awards, a Top Scorer trophy and the adidas Silver Ball at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
We did the original interview with Jordan before the end of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup just in case a disappoint performance tainted the responses. However, when an incredible Portugal side toppled the reigning Brazilians to lift the trophy, we simply had to get back in touch with Jordan.
As a result, this interview in split into two sections one before and one after the World Cup…
Section 1 (Pre-World Cup)
What does it feel like to have become a part of beach soccer history?
It is genuinely a dream come true for me. It is very special to be in the select few in the world and joining them in being part of the history of the sport.
Has it sunk in that you are the best player in the world?
It has all happened very fast. I had little time to take it in before the World Cup began, and right after the ceremony my focus shifted totally to that new goal. I feel very happy and proud, but I have gained a great responsibility. And being the best in your profession…it is crazy.
Honestly, did you expect the award?
From the moment I was announced in the Top Three, I began to believe I could be, due to my performance in both club and national team competitions. I had a season without injuries and always at a high level, so yes, I thought it was possible, and I was so happy when it happened. I am so thankful for this.
How did the beach soccer journey begin for you? And what were the main steps in reaching this achievement?
It started very early, I always played on the beach since I was a child, I lived close to the beach so I spent the whole summer playing on the sand. Then, the team Sotão from Nazare invited me to play. I was with them for one year, and I soon after I was called up to the national team. That was when it really started...then I developed year after year, until I reached this level.
Who was the first person you called after the ceremony finished?
My family was at the ceremony with me, I spoke to them first, then the President of SC Braga and Mr. Fernando Gomes, President of the FPF and Dr. Pedro Dias, were the first to get in contact with me.
For you personally, what was the stand-out moment for the season? The moment that won you the award.
There were a number of important achievements that led me to the Minsk Gold Medal, European Championship, and the Euro Winners. I think they were the main reasons.
How has your life changed since the award ceremony in Dubai?
The responsibility has changed, I am now a reference for all players of the sport, I am more recognized in Portugal. Now I will be even better to prove that I was not the best by chance. My life has changed for the better.
Is this your greatest achievement? Does it top the 2015 World Cup win?
These two are my greatest achievements; it would be unfair to choose one because one is individual and the other collective. Without my team I could not have reached any of them. They are the two biggest accomplishments in my life.
No one has ever retained the Best Player of the Year award. Do you think that you could be the first?
I think I have conditions for this, I am very ambitious and hardworking. I will not work specifically to beat this record, but if it happens naturally then so be it. I will continue to work hard and soon we will see... but I do believe it’s possible.
What message would you give to new beach soccer players who one day hope to reach the very top as well?
That they can dream, and never get carried away by the sadness of the loss of a single game, or a bad day, because it’s only fleeting.
The next day we have a new opportunity to get up, to train and play a new match and learn from our mistakes. You must believe in your dreams. I believed. I went through failure and in the end, I made it into history and today I am the best.
After reaching the very top and winning everything, it must be difficult to envision achieving more. But what does the future look like for you in beach soccer?
This is my challenge, to stay on top. As I said this award will not change my ambition, I will work more focused and even more enthusiastic to be able to stay for many years at the top of the sport, and be a reference for those who are starting the modality.
Section 2 (Post-World Cup)
Firstly, can you describe that feeling when the whistle went in the final against Italy?
The feeling was a lot of emotion, a feeling that we had when we had just made history in Portugal, the best time ever.
How was it different to what you felt when your name was announced as the Best Player in Dubai?
It was a similar feeling in terms of personal pride and tremendous joy, but being World Champions weeks after being named the World’s Best Player is truly remarkable.
Before the tournament started, did you believe that Brazil could be dethroned?
We knew that Brazil were the favourites for the title, but we also knew that they were not invincible, and then it happened. It was a surprise, but of course, Russia also deserve credit for their strength.
This year has been pretty incredible for you. But if we go back to the start of the season to the World Beach Games qualifier in Salou where Portugal failed to secure a place in Qatar, honestly…were you worried about the season?
At the time I remember we were very sad, but not worried. Our feeling was that we wanted to work more to go back to the titles we were used to. Sometimes it's important to start like this and then we can end up the way we did.
Do you think that early setback made the performance of the team even better for the rest of the season?
Yes, it was an eye-opener to us. We knew that if we wanted to do something, we had to work a lot harder to tackle the most stressful and important period.
And finally, ill it be strange fighting to retain the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2021 without Madjer in the squad?
Madjer has been our captain for many years, but we will have time to get used to his physical absence until the next World Cup even though we know that he will be always there with us.