Modern football isn’t built for players staying at one club. Long gone are the days when players would sign for their local team and then stay there for the majority of their career. If you take a look around the clubs in any league it would be hard to come up with a list of players who have been at their teams for longer than just a few years. Which makes the story of Joaquim Emílio da Silva Pereira even more special.
The story starts in 1956 when a man went into the offices of FC Penafiel to sign a form on behalf of his son that would allow him to play for the Penafiel youth side. Fifty eight years later that same son remains part of the club (and is still actually playing!)
Joaquim Emílio da Silva Pereira was a local boy who loved football as a kid and had one ambition, to play for FC Penafiel. When he got that chance he showed immediately what he was capable of and was promoted from the youth team within the first few matches. He went on to have a long and successful career with the club despite the team never actually winning anything. He scored 600 goals across a 20 year career in the first team and although offers arrived at the desk of the President of Penafiel from Benfica, Sporting and Porto he remained with the team he loved. Pereira simply wanted to play football for his team. He felt so strongly about his club that when they lost he got so embarrassed that he refused to go home through the town even though it meant a huge detour. When it came to negotiating new contracts he never demanded any wage rises or increases in bonuses, he simply wanted to stay with Penafiel.
“I would tell club presidents how much I needed and they would oblige. Your word was enough in those days.”
Retiring in 1986 Pereira says that he has an “eternal connection” with the club that gave him his career. Despite now being in his late 70s he still plays for Penafiel as part of their veterans squad. He claims that he still enjoys exercising and that football still gives him the same buzz. Pereira also has some harsh words for today’s footballers –
“It’s a farce nowadays. I could have earned a lot of money. Obviously not as much as footballers today though. The wages are crazy now. I can’t even calculate how much they earn. When I see players who have just joined a team score a goal and kiss the club’s logo, I think it is a farce. They only think about money.”
It is safe to say that the story of Joaquim Emílio da Silva Pereira is one that will not be repeated very often in today’s footballing world. It does however remind us that at its heart the game is still very much about the connection between players, clubs and supporters.