Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Yuri da Souza. Two of the three top foreign goalkeepers in Spanish football are emblems of football that have marked times with their records. The third, above Hugo Sánchez himself, has more than 240 goals and is a 40-year-old Brazilian who has not tasted the First Division but who in Ponferrada (León) receives the Ballon d’Or of popular affection every year. Yuri, adoptive son of El Bierzo and local Pichichi, enjoys away from the spotlight while he swells his scoreboard to the delight of the Ponferradina Sports Society, where he scores 188 goals, and a fan that idolizes him. The Toralín dressing room has become his second home and when he retires, something for which he has no date, the next stage will be lived in the offices.
The forward talks calmly about his idyll with the goals. His first 56 hits, according to the Bdfutbol database, came at Pontevedra, in Second B, two years demonstrating his sense of smell until Las Palmas called him, in Second. The year on the islands brought him back to the northwest of the Peninsula and in 2009 he signed with Ponferradina, in the third rung of national football, and began his idyll with El Bierzo. “I am proud and happy to reach these numbers, close to those great players, it never crossed my mind, it is the result of a lot of work over many years,” says the striker, who calls the entity in which he is “home” that, except for a one-year adventure in the Chinese League, has scored goals in a thousand ways between the Second and Second B, having experienced three promotions and two relegations in 13 years. “I was lucky to come to a great team,” says Yuri, who avoids setting goals at the end of each season. “I go year by year, game by game, without figures or games or how long to play, I have the illusion of a kid and want more working with humility,” says the veteran player, who with his 188 hits with the blue and white has become the top scorer in the history of a century-old club. In the 21st century, only Messi, Cristiano, the still active Rubén Castro and Villa have achieved more goals in national professional football.
The secret of maintaining precision despite time, details the Brazilian, lies in experience, an indispensable ally in the rival area. “Over the years you make more accurate decisions about where the ball lands, knowing how to move to gain an advantage over your rival,” explains the striker, who leads the score for ‘Ponfe’ with his five goals this League after Sunday’s in Granada (2 -2). The physical tone, a classic enemy of athletes who are around 40, maintains it by attending to the physical trainers, respecting rest and pampering the diet, even if it prevents him, as he confesses with a smile, from enjoying the traditional and forceful Botillos from El Bierzo. His football success accompanies him and stimulates popular appreciation and the happiness that Yuri feels in Ponferrada. His couple and two of his three children are from El Bierzo and there he received the title of adoptive son of the region last year, an honor beyond the covers.
The mayor of Ponferrada, Olegario Ramón (PSOE), singles out the Brazilian for the happiness he brings to his citizens: “Yuri is one of the great symbols of the team in its history, a player with an amazing ability to arouse the approval of his teammates , their coaches, the board and the fans. That happens very rarely in a football team. For him, the number ’10’ has become “a mirror in which to look at ourselves, an example of resilience and the fight against daily difficulties and successfully overcoming the natural consequences of age”. This is how he has earned popular appreciation, the kind that the footballer says he feels on the street or in the supermarket, with requests for photos and autographs, between broad smiles, who decided to stay despite the fact that in his day he had offers from Eibar to debut in First The president of the entity, José Fernández, celebrates the commitment of his star, of that “club man, the number one, here is his house and he is going to stay with us”. “Where he goes, they adore him”, ditch Fernández.
The admiration is also palpable in the dressing room, says his dressing room partner Paris Adot. “He’s like Raúl at Real Madrid, who didn’t seem so good but he has the instinct, I haven’t seen anyone define like that,” describes the defender, Yuri’s victim in training: “Look, we know him, but we keep looking at him because he puts all the ones that fall to him ”. As captain, he values, “he is not the typical Seriote, but rather he is a joker, he is nice and helps with everything.” The South American appreciates these words and insists that his goal, in addition to emulating his idol, Ronaldo Nazario, is going through a promotion with Ponferradina, who is fighting for permanence this season. “It’s complicated, but anything can happen”, slips Yuri, who can be surprised by few football whims once he has inscribed his name in the history of the Spanish goal.
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