Eder caps extraordinary journey by winning Euro 2016

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When Portugal manager Fernando Santos sat down with his closest confidants and came up with a game plan for the Euro 2016 final, it is unlikely Eder's name would have been mentioned.

By all accounts, Eder's involvement in the game against France was always going to be limited to the substitute's bench. It was only when Dimitri Payet clattered into Cristiano Ronaldo's left knee that his role changed.

Indeed, if Ronaldo had not been forced off in the 25th minute with that injury, it is unlikely Eder would have ever made it onto the Stade de France pitch on Sunday. 


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But with his impact substitute Ricardo Quaresma already on the pitch, Santos looked to his bench in the 79th minute and saw the man he would later describe as a "beautiful swan". At that moment in time, he was still just an "ugly duckling".

"He was a bit of a laughing stock in Portugal," Expresso journalist Mariana Cabral told ESPN. "We have been used to mobile and technically sound strikers who score a lot of goals, like Pauleta, Nuno Gomes and Domingos. Eder pretty much never scored, and he is a bit clumsy."


Before Sunday's final, Eder had scored just three goals in 28 appearances for Portugal, only two of which came in the European Championships. Both times, the sight of him emerging from the bench was met with groans from around the country and, once again, his appearance in the final inspired few.

But he was destined to make the difference in the 109th minute of the match, receiving the ball 30-yards out before powering his way past Laurent Koscielny and unleashing a shot as low as it was fierce. It beat Hugo Lloris and the game was won.

"The ugly duckling went and scored. Now he's a beautiful swan," Santos exclaimed.

Early life

It was another surprising twist in an already incredible life story, as he described in a recent interview with Swansea City.

He said: "I moved to Portugal when I was two years old, so I don't remember living in Guinea-Bissau. My family moved to Lisbon so that we could live in better conditions and have a better way of life. My father was already living in Portugal, so I moved over with my mother."

He learnt his early trade playing on the streets of Coimbra before, at the age of eight, he was finally invited to the local academy.

"I always played football in the streets with the other kids from my college," he recalled, per ESPN.

"Every day and everywhere, if we had a ball, we would just play football."


At 18, Eder signed with Portuguese second division club Tourizense in what was his first professional contract. It was worth €400-a-month. He would eventually make his name at Braga, scoring 26 goals in 46 starts. A cruciate ligament injury would halt his progression and see a move to Tottenham fall through.

But he recovered well, scoring 13 goals in the 2014/15 season and convinced Swansea to fork out £5m to sign him that summer. Things never quite worked for him in Wales, however, with Garry Monk never giving him a real chance to shine.

Signed in the transitional period between Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk, Eder was caught in flux and found himself firmly down the new manager's pecking order. Indeed, Monk happily stuck with Gomis through long spells of poor form while Eder hung around the training ground.

Eder would make just two Premier League starts for the Swans before once again leaving to prove himself.

He is now rebuilding his reputation at Lille, who signed him for £3.6m after a successful loan spell. Six goals in 12 Ligue 1 appearances hints at more fruitful times to come and his goal in Euro 2016 will certainly give him a platform to show the potential few have rarely glimpsed.

On the eve of the tournament, the 28-year-old warned the rest of Europe not to do what so many people have done in his short career.

Starting from now, it is unlikely anyone ever will again.

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Swansea City
Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal National Football Team
Euro 2016

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