Stefan Pereira, Southern FC “What is my Most Memorable Goal? The Next One That I Score!”

Stefan Pereira of Southern. Photo: Southern Facebook

Stefan Pereira is simply to be grateful to be a professional footballer and follow his passion. The hardworking and down-to-earth Southern mainstay says only one to two of his close peers with who he grew up playing football are still making a living out of the game.

On his way up the football ladder, Pereira, as a youngster, rubbed shoulders with international players like David Luiz and goal-scoring phenomenon, Hulk. All the other thousands of players who dreamed big as he did, have had to call time on their dreams and work in the ‘real’ world.

Photo: Southern Facebook

Why is Pereira so grateful for the chances afforded to him? Well, he knows the bleak statistics and numbers and the endless trials and tribulations many face to stay afloat in the beautiful game. According to recent studies, out of all the boys who enter an academy in the United Kingdom at the age of 9, less than half of 1% make it to the professional leagues. In real-world terms, only about 180 of the 1.5 million players playing organised youth football in England, at any one time, will make it to the Premier League. Contrast these statistics to a large country like Brazil and the numbers would be even more damning.

Photo: Southern Facebook

In an exclusive interview, Pereira, discusses Southern’s amazing turnaround so far this season and his career ups and downs.

The Southern player first discussed why Southern have started so positively this season when compared to last season.

“It’s not because Southern changed our performances last season or that last season was worse. We did not perform so well last season and in the current season, the team is a lot more confident! This season, Southern have less new players and a smaller squad but the players who joined have a lot of quality and have helped us a lot at the beginning of the season. 

Another point was that last season, we did not use all our overseas players such as the Portuguese player, Pedro. He came to Hong Kong and he got injured and he didn’t play a lot of games. He could come on some games as we did not have enough players but he was injured and he could not play to his best. I think all these reasons together is why we didn’t play too well last season and why we started this season very well.”

Confidence and Goals 

Photo: Southern Facebook

Pereira is a grounded yet humble player who works hard for his team and through his graft and honed skills, has managed to score on a regular basis in Hong Kong.

“So far when I have been playing in Hong Kong, I have scored goals and for sure, when you score then as a player, you have more confidence and so will have more confidence in the next games. I think the most important thing for me is how I now think inside the penalty box. I learnt this skill over the past few years by watching other strikers and discussing with them how to move. The most important goal is the next one that I score! ”

Pereira was born in Brumado in Bahia, in the Northeast region of the country and this is where his long journey to Hong Kong started.

“When I was younger, I was a striker. When I was young and at Esporte Clube Vitória, I was the top scorer in my youth team and I scored 300 goals.  I was not tall and I was not so fast and some coaches told me, I was a mobility player and I needed to change my style because, if I try to keep playing as a striker then maybe I would have some trials. I tried to adapt to to another position as a winger!

For me, the best striker was Romario as he was amazing inside the box.”

Title Contenders? 

Photo: Southern Facebook

When asked if Southern could win the league title, he was hopeful though acknowledged the challenges ahead.

“The Southern squad is not so big and we do not have a lot of players but we need to think big. We need to think big as we need to challenge the biggest teams and challenge all the other teams and try to win all games. No matter if we are gonna be champions or not, the mindset is to be higher up the league table. If we can be champions then this would be perfect but if we still are top three or four, this is also very good.

I think for this coming game against Eastern, we will see if we will be able to fight for the league (Southern won the game).

Yeah, for many, many for many, many many people, if Southern become league champions then it will be a big surprise.  For us as a team, because we work hard and we know the quality of our team, we could challenge all the way.

The other teams have quality players but Southern know our strengths and we know our style of play.  We cannot win every game in football but we’re gonna try and we’re gonna keep fighting for wins!”

Pereira reflected on his time in Hong Kong and all the changes he has seen in the local game for better or for worse. He also reflected on the impact of the virus on the league:

The View of the Game

Pereira has been in Hong Kong for several years now and has seen significant playing teams with teams like Lee Man, Yuen Long and Citizen. He viewed the HK game as a player and has seen the significant changes and hopes the future is brighter.

“Yeah, I have already been here in Hong Kong many years.  When I first came to HK, there were  14 teams and that was good for everybody and good for players. I hope next season, more teams come in and the league gets better and better. The arrangement this season is ok as there are more Sapling cup games along with the FA cup so there are more games to see”

Pereira reflected on his time in Hong Kong and all the changes he has seen in the local game for better or for worse. He also reflected on the impact of the virus on the league:

“Unfortunately, due to the virus, many many players have no job and go and play in the HK second division. Many players also have to do another job like driving delivery trucks and working for food delivery companies.” 

How It All Started

So how did the younger Stefan Pereira end up thousands of miles from Brazil and in Hong Kong?

“When I was 10 years old, I started to go to the state capital of Bahia, Salvador. I went there to play for Esporte Clube Vitória and this move changed my life. My family then moved to Salvador as well but I never thought of  coming to Asia when I was young.

Pereira had a short stint in Sarajevo

An agent told me to come to Hong Kong but I had another offer from Japan. I had a contract with one club and this club said they didn’t wanna sell me to Japan because they wanted a lot of money. I got angry as I was young and I wanted to go to Japan and I didn’t want to go anywhere else! The agent then said  ‘Hey, okay, fine, you don’t want to stay here. I’m gonna try to send you to another place!’ This is because I wanted to leave Brazil and play overseas. I didn’t want to stay and I wanted to play overseas and because Japan football is a high level.

The agent then said, we are definitely not going to let you go, so I said ok ‘I am not going to train and I am not going to play!’ I told my stance to the president of the club as well and then I was told, there was an opportunity in Hong Kong! ‘Ok you won’t let me go to Japan then I will go to Hong Kong so I went to play with Citizen” 

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