MANULLA’S MAGIC FIVE The five Brazilians who helped Manulla to win the Westaro Cup last Sunday are pictured before kick-off. Left to right: Jackson DeSilva, Lucas DePaula, Sebastiao DaSilva, Savio Amorim and Fran DaSilva. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
OVER 5,000 miles separate Anápolis, the hometown of Manulla’s Fran DaSilva, and Milebush, where the same man created a small bit of history last Sunday in becoming the first Brazilian to score in a Cup Final for Manulla.
DaSilva’s extra-time strike – four minutes after being sprung from the bench – was as memorable as his samba celebration and will live long in the memory of his adopted club.
DaSilva — known better as ‘Franny’ to his team-mates — is one of five Brazilians (all from Anápolis) lining out with Manulla this season, and their performances on the fields of Mayo have been a hot topic in Mayo Football League circles for months.
DaSilva arrived on these shores just over three months ago and is residing in Gort. But like his fellow countrymen he chose summer soccer with Manulla over the less favourable winter game south of the border.
Franny and his four countrymen appeared over the moon as they celebrated with their new team-mates in Solar 21 Park last Sunday.
He was even gracious enough to speak to The Mayo News afterwards. Although his English was ‘not good’, teammate Lucas DePaula – who missed the tie through injury – was drafted in for interpretation duties.
“First of all I want to thank God and my team-mates for helping me score the goal,” the 23 year-old smiled.
“It’s great to help my team, Manulla, to win the Cup.
“It’s good [to play with my countrymen]. We’re used to each other playing in Brazil and now here. It’s only good because we can all help each other on the pitch.”
You could only imagine what the South Americans were thinking in the midst of all the celebrations last Sunday as they hugged the locals and shook every hand in front of them.
How we wondered does this compare to life in Brazil?
“Different!” DaSilva laughed. “It’s a different experience to what I’m used to but I like it and I expect to stay here for a long time.”
Being so far from home, you would expect nerves might come in to play. Not so much, actually.
“I was not nervous,” he said. “Our team was very confident, we have been training hard and we respected the other team.”
DaSilva’s fellow countryman, Jackson DeSilva, was presented with the man of the match award for his display on the day and received a rapturous applause as he made up the steps to receive it.
The South Americans have clearly settled in and have made a profound impact on their team-mates and management.
“Franny was out injured for a long time and this was his first big-game back,” Manulla manager Connie Morrissey explained. “I could see him going across the box [for his goal], he was shaping and shaping to get it onto the left foot. I knew if he could, he would bury it because he has a thunderous shot with that left foot.
“He’s even getting used to the bit of Irish too!” laughed the Manulla boss.