With Fulham taking on Portugal, sorry I mean Wolves, on Friday, and with the Whites enjoying a strong Portuguese influence ourselves of late thanks to Marco Silva, what better time to take a look at Fulham’s greatest Portuguese imports?
Before we get into the list, we have to give out some honourable mentions to some cult heroes.
Rui Fonte signed for Fulham in 2017 for £8m from Braga while we were in the Championship. We all hoped he would help fire us back to the Premier League after he bagged his first goal against Ipswich early on, but unfortunately five months passed before he netted his next goals, a brace against Burton Albion. That ended up being his lot; the signing of Alexander Mitrovic dislodged him and he soon was back at Braga on a free transfer.
Orlanda Sá signed for Fulham from Porto in 2011, the season after the Whites reached the Europa League final. His one and only goal came in a 1-1 draw with Norwich at Carrow Road, and he made just seven Premier League appearances. Shortly after stating he felt he was improving in the summer of 2012, his contract was mutually terminated. Who knows what could have been…
4. Ivan Cavaleiro
When Ivan Cavaleiro signed for Fulham in 2019, it was met with great excitement as we looked to build a really strong, quality Championship side with signings including Anthony Knockaert, Bobby De Cordova-Reid, Harry Arter and Harrison Reid. These were all proven top second-tier players and it was hoped this would help the Cottagers sail back to the Premier League.
This should have been the case, but in reality Parkerball had us sitting in fourth place, 12 points behind champions Leeds, scraping our way back to Premier League after an extra-time brace from Joe Bryan at Wembley.
But one Summer’s evening in August we were all dreaming of what could have been. The opponents: Millwall. The venue: Craven Cottage. The cameras: Sky Sports. Widely regarded as our most complete performance of the season if not the past five years, Cavaleiro was the star of the show. He scored two goals and bagged an assist, which saw him awarded man of the match.
Many believed it was the start of a title tilt. It wasn’t. Also, who can forget his two headed goals in the lockdown Premier League season getting us a share of the spoils against Tottenham and West Brom while playing the lone striker role.
3. Fabio Carvalho
Having represented both England and Portugal at youth level, Fabio opted for the country of his birth. While the argument exists whether he would get into the current Fulham side or not, considering Andreas Pereira’s form, Carvalho was instrumental to Fulham’s rise to the Premier League last season.
His 10 goals and eight assists had him joint-second goalscorer for the Whites that season. His energy, willingness to take men on and finishing at such a young age had us all purring, until he was cruelly snatched away by Liverpool. The wunderkind also scored an outstanding goal on his Fulham debut in the Premier League versus Southampton that will live long in the fans memory.
2. Joao Palhinha
After only seven months at the club, maybe having Joao so high in the list is a tad premature, but this guy is the real deal. £20m seems like an absolute snip.
While the likes of Mitrovic, Pereira and De Cordova-Reid will get most of the plaudits for Fulham’s current league position, Palhinha’s hard work off the ball is a huge reason for our success. His ability to screen the back four, break up opposition play and play the ball forward at every chance, gives everyone else in the team the ability to take risks going forward. It’s absolutely no coincidence that the only game Palhinha has missed in the Premier League was a 4-1 defeat to Newcastle.
There’s no doubt there will be interest in the summer and this interest is going to be at significantly higher fees than Fulham splashed last year. If he stays at Fulham, he could take the number one spot in this list.
1. Luis Boa Morte
There was nothing but goodwill towards Luis Boa Morte when It was announced he was returning to Craven Cottage as part of Marco Silva’s coaching ticket at the start of last season. The man is a bonafide legend.
Whether we talk about the 18 goals for Jean Tigana’s record breaking promotion team in 2000/01, his winner against Jose’s free-spending Chelsea in 2006, or his goal as Fulham beat then-European Champions Liverpool in 2005, the memories of Boa are only fond ones. His hard working, no-nonsense, free-flowing, attacking style was a joy to watch – so much so that he was made captain in 2005 before his slightly controversial move to West Ham in 2007. A move which he recently declared was “not by my own free will”. All is forgiven after the past two seasons!