Boavista head into Saturday’s match against SC Braga looking to end the season strongly. Petit’s side are currently 11th in the Primeira Liga and are looking to improve on last season’s 10th-placed finish with two games left to play. At the Estádio do Bessa XXI in particular they have been excellent this season, losing just one of their last nine league matches at home. One of the standout performers during Os Axadrezados‘ recent run of matches has been Bruno Lourenço, with the 25-year-old attacker high in confidence and showcasing the kind of form that made this historic club capture him from Estoril.
Despite his age, Bruno already has a wealth of experience throughout the divisions whether it be playing on loan in the Campeonato do Portugal at a very young age or up to the Primeira Liga where he is now shining. We caught up with Bruno at the Bessa to touch on his early experiences, his influences, what it means to play for Boavista, what makes the Estádio do Bessa XXI a special place to play and his hopes for the rest of the season.
Born in Lisbon, Bruno started his youth football journey in Sacavém for Sacavenense before receiving the call to join Benfica’s famous academy. He spent the rest of his formative years at As Águias before making the switch to Desportivo das Aves in 2017/18. At this point, Lourenço had spent the majority of his youth career playing for Benfica youth sides that dominated matches, usually had the best team in the league, controlled possession and won most of their matches. As a result of this, Desportivo das Aves wanted this young talent to gain some real-world experience and he was thrust into the Campeonato do Portugal, which was then Portugal’s third division, to give him a taste of competing against tough, experienced players who are either fighting for promotion or scrapping to stay in the division”
“I started at Sacavenense when I was 7, then when I was 10, I was called to Benfica but then I had to leave. It was complicated! (on playing in the Campeonato do Portugal at 19) When I was at Benfica, we always played with the ball; there were always goals, and we always won, so I think I needed more aggressiveness, there wasn’t so much physical contact, and in Montalegre, I took an important step to achieve that – playing with older, more experienced men, which was good for me. It helped me to get more physical, it was more serious. This whole process made me grow; I don’t regret anything; I gained minutes playing minutes and gained physique.”
“I believe that everything has to be progressive, one step at a time”
During his time with Montalegre, things were changing in regard to youth football in Portugal. The FPF (Federeção Portuguesa de Futebol) decided to create a new competition called Liga Revelação, a league specifically designed for under-23 teams as well as the Taça Revelação, a domestic cup to go alongside the Liga. When Bruno returned from his year at Montalegre, Aves placed him in the U23 side for the inaugural campaign of the Liga Revelação and it’s safe to say the first season couldn’t have gone any better. Aves were crowned champions of the league, finishing above the likes of Benfica, Sporting and Braga and they also won the inaugural Taça Revelação after defeating Rio Ave in the final.
“The creation of that league was very important because (otherwise) I would have probably spent another year at Montalegre or with another team in the Campeonato de Portugal, so the creation of this league was ideal. We were fortunate to be league and cup champions, with an exceptional group, with good players who are now at higher levels, players who managed to stand out. My first year at Desportivo das Aves went very well.”
After impressing at Desportivo das Aves, Bruno made the move to Estoril Praia, a club who were building a strong squad for a promotion bid. Bruno joined a team which had the likes of Chiquinho (now at Wolves), Miguel Crespo (Fenerbahçe), André Vidigal (Marítimo) and André Franco (FC Porto), a young and very talented side, particularly for the Portuguese second division. Lourenço played 28 games across both competitions as Estoril won the Segunda Liga and impressively reached the semi-finals of the Taça de Portugal.
“I believe that everything has to be progressive, one step at a time, passo a passo! You can’t go directly from the Campeonato do Portugal to the Primeira Liga. You have to be consistent, and I think Montalegre was a good alternative for me. Then I went to Aves and then to the Under-23 League to gain minutes and to increase the competitiveness in the squad, which was very good. After the Liga Revelação, it was good to play in the Segunda Liga (with Estoril) to understand how the championship was, and I had the opportunity to get promoted in the first year. Now I’m at Boavista and of course, I want to go to other levels.”
Evolving as a player
“When I arrived at Estoril, I played as a midfielder but the coach at the time, Bruno Pinheiro, decided to guide me towards playing as a winger. After my first match, I got COVID and I had to stay home for 30 days. I then spent two months getting back to playing, and in my first game as a starter against Casa Pia, I scored a goal and an assist (in a 2-0 win). From then on, I started to play more as a right winger.”
“In the game against Paços de Ferreira, I was fortunate enough to believe I was going to score a goal. We were losing 1-0, and I knew I had to do something for the team. I believed with the ball and when I scored, I gained even more motivation to play in that position – since the coach insisted on playing me in that position, I just kept trying and working. It was his idea, and I just had to do my job, no matter what position the coach wanted to put me in. I just had to work on the details, which I did. It’s good to be versatile on the field – closer to the line, more inside. It’s all good.”
“Here at Boavista, the fans live for football in a different way…they are very passionate about the club”
After winning the Segunda Liga and then experiencing life in the top flight with Estoril, it was time for a new challenge and Boavista was the next destination for Bruno Lourenço. This historic club will celebrate its 120th anniversary in August, it has a passionate fanbase and they are one of only two clubs to win the Primeira Liga outside of Os Tres Grandes. Petit, Bruno’s current manager and the man who brought him to the club, was part of that title-winning team in 2000/01.
“I think that when I was at Estoril, I played as a starter. When I came here, I accepted the coach’s decision. He talked to me, as well as Nelson, the director, and I decided to come here to have another Primeira Liga club in my career. I had already been in the North of Portugal, where football is lived with more intensity than in Lisbon. In the Primeira Liga especially, the clubs in the North of Portugal are all very close together. Also, it was the stadium, the history, and the fans, and it was a stage for me to play more minutes, score more goals and have a chance to show that I knew how to play outside Estoril, that I could also play for Boavista.”
The finest moment in a Boavista jersey for Bruno Lourenço came back in September when he scored a brace at the Estádio do Bessa XXI to help his side beat Sporting CP 2-1. His first goal of the match, a spectacular volley, won the Liga Portugal Goal of the Month award and spread on social media like wildfire.
“I was at the entrance of the penalty area, asking (Kenji Gorre) for the ball for like 10, 20 seconds asking for the ball (laughs). I had to detach myself from everything; I had to concentrate while the ball was coming down, I took the shot, the ball hit the post and went in. I think it was the best goal of my career. That and the one against Marítimo, which was also very good. But I think that against Sporting it was incredible. After that goal, I also scored the penalty kick that gave us the win so up until now that game was the most beautiful moment I have had in my career”.
His goal against Marítimo was another spectacular effort and was recently awarded the Liga Portugal Goal of the Month award for April – his second Goal of the Month award of the season!
Overcoming obstacles and ending the season strongly
“I think we started the season well; then, in the middle of the season, we had a period of six or seven games without winning. The team’s confidence was no longer the same. The coach gave me confidence in training; all we had to do was focus on our efficiency, to focus on the small details. We have had games where we conceded only at the end, and they were moments where we lacked concentration at times when we had to stay concentrated. The coach gave us confidence during the week to keep working and to focus on the details – set pieces, shots from outside the area – things that we were correcting in training. Individually, every single player must concentrate and put their head in complete focus, to do the extra effort, to be concentrated on all sides of the game to score goals.”
“What I have noticed is that there are a lot of differences here at this level compared to previous clubs. For example with Montealegre and Aves, there was more room to make mistakes. Here, in the Primeira Liga? Not so much! With one mistake, you can suffer a goal, with two mistakes, you can concede two goals”
Boavista have come through their bad patch of form recently and have lost just two of their last six matches in the Liga, a run that has included big wins against Rio Ave and Vitória SC and they are looking to end the season strongly.
“In the last six games, we have managed to keep our same style of play with more shots, taking more corners and we have been superior to other teams. It’s bad that we only have this level of play now; it should have happened earlier because instead of having only 40 points, we might have had five or ten more points. These small details prevented us from being better placed in the league table, but there are two games left, and we want to have positive results!”
“Overall we feel that during the season, we could have had more points, but we are having a positive season, and our final league position doesn’t depend only on us. Our goal is to win the next two games and finish with 46 points. We will give our maximum and wait for the results of the teams that are above us, but our goal is to get the best classification possible.”
A special stadium with special supporters
One thing that sticks out immediately about Boavista when you look at their statistics this season is just how good they are at home. Boavista have played 16 Primeira Liga matches so far this season at the Estádio do Bessa XXI and have lost just three times. The only teams to have suffered fewer defeats at home this season are the current Primeira Liga top four (Benfica, Porto, Braga, Sporting). Bruno Lourenço experienced just how tough the Bessa was to come to as an opposing player but now he is enjoying being playing here as a Boavista player.
“It’s true, when we play in our stadium, with the support of our fans, we are more comfortable; everything seems to go well. It is true that there were games we were winning and tied in the final minutes, but only Benfica, Porto, and Famalicão have managed to win here against us. It is a very difficult place to come to. Two years ago, when I was at Estoril, we drew 1-1 here and I felt then that it was a very difficult place to get points. This was one of the reasons that made me come to Boavista; the fans live for football in a different way; they like it when we have the whole house… They are very passionate about the club.”
“My first game for example, it was not a very good game, because we lost but just to feel the jersey, to feel the fans, it was very good. It was an away game and then when I first played at home, I felt unconditional support. When I play, I think, ‘I have to tell these people I’m here’. I started to gain confidence, playing both on the line and in the middle”.
Idols, inspirations and the best players he has played with or against
“Because I played as a midfielder, I really liked to watch Lionel Messi, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes. They are the kind of players that I felt I could identify with, that I could take details from the actions they take on the field, also Philipe Coutinho too!”
“(The best player I’ve played with or against?) Hmm! I think I have to pick three, João Félix, Renato Sanches, and Jota. All three are fantastic. João Félix, I think when he started to realise that he had the magic that he has, he started to stand out a lot. Renato Sanches is more for his will and his physical shape – he won practically every single duel and had a lot of technique. Jota was very skilled; he was an incredible player; I still watch some of his games at Celtic – I’m happy he won the championship – I know he can evolve a lot”.
Próxima Jornada would like to thank Bruno Lourenço for his time, the staff at Boavista for facilitating the interview at the stadium and to Empower Sports for making it happen.