A tribute to Fernando De Moraes from the SMFC Media Team
By John Kyrou on behalf of the SMFC Media Team: George Kouroumalis, David Henning, Paul Zarogiannis, Cindy Nitsos, Michael Dimoudis, Tim Dovas, Paul Mavroudis and Steven Orchard
We were very sad when we heard that Fernando De Moraes had decided to retire from playing outdoor football and retire from playing for our great Club. We thought it was only too appropriate to write this tribute to him to show him how much of a friend and supporter he has been to us in his time at the Club.
Fernando joined the Club nine games into our first season in the Victorian Premier League back in 2005. He played his first game for us against Green Gully on 10 April 2005 (League match), a game that we lost 1-0. His last appearance for the Club – ironically – was also against Green Gully (Dockerty Cup match) that we also lost 1-0 on 21 August 2013. In between, we saw him make 174 League appearances for 53 goals and represent the Club in official games (League, Dockerty Cup, Singapore Cup) on 182 occasions for 62 goals. He won numerous awards, all of which can be seen in the official Club release announcing his retirement. When he was on song, he was the best player in the VPL by a mile. However there was more to him than just being a great player on the field, it was what he was off the field that in our eyes made him a Champion of this Club.
When Fernando arrived at Lakeside Stadium, his command of English wasn’t the best, having only recently arrived from his native Brazil. With the help of great Club men at the time in Dean Anastasiadis, Con Blatsis and Tansel Baser, eventually he learnt to speak fluent English and he was able to properly interact with the fans post-match in the social club. It was in this setting that many supporters got to know him and see how he truly loved playing for South Melbourne. He had seen the Club play in the World Club Championships in Rio de Janeiro in 2000 and decided to join some members of his family (who were already in Melbourne) in making the move here. The coach John Anastasiadis eventually signed him and the rest as they say is history.
Our early impressions of Fernando in 2005 were that of a player that could score fantastic goals from free kicks and just loved playing football. When he was on song, the entire team lifted and a relatively youthful South side went as far as a Preliminary Final finish that season. The following year he exploded and scored 12 goals in an outstanding year that saw South win the VPL Championship thanks to his assist for De Nittis to score. Not surprisingly, he won the Jimmy Rooney Medal for being the best afield in that game.
SMFCTV was created in 2009 and has captured Fernando scoring some brilliant goals. In addition, he has been a great help to the Media Team in making himself available for interviews or photo shoots. Whenever we’ve needed him, he’s been more than happy to come and help out. He wasn’t lying in the 2012 membership advertisement when he said “this is my home, this is my family.” When we went into the rooms after matches we could see how much he loved it when we won and how much he was hurting when we lost. This is not to say that other players didn’t feel the same way also; however with a guy like Fern who had been around the Club for nearly a decade, he took the results like a supporter would because the Club means so much to him as it does to the supporters. Last year when we fought back from a 0-2 deficit against Preston in the Dockerty Cup, who stepped up to be counted? Fernando of course, with two goals in the final few minutes to seal a 4-2 win. If there was one player to rely on to do something to get the team out of trouble, it was him.
What makes a player a great Club man? We think it’s when they are prepared to step up and speak when the results aren’t the best. When we win games, many players are happy to be interviewed, however very few volunteer to do so when we lose. In the time we have done SMFCTV, there are only four players that have voluntarily stepped up to speak after losses and it is no surprise that all of them have captained the Club – Rama Tavsancioglu, Steve O’Dor, Brad Norton and of course Fernando. It is why all of them have our utmost respect and shows why they were all made captain in the first place.
Off the field, Fernando is an absolute gentleman. Whenever he sees us he stops to shake our hands and have a chat. He makes time to speak to everyone and it is little wonder why he is such a hit with the juniors and the younger supporters. Many other players should follow his lead because his off-field contributions to this Club have been enormous. His love of football and his football abilities – both in outdoor and futsal – is huge and it is again no surprise that he is an important player in the Australian Futsalroos team. He also loves coaching and we hope that one day he can be a coach in the South system.
Fernando De Moraes is without doubt the best player we’ve had in the VPL. On the field he was a star, off the field he is a gentleman. He is a true friend of South Melbourne FC and is a great friend of the Media Team and all of the supporters.
Fernando/Fern/Nando/Liliko, we are all sad that we won’t see you run amok in the VPL any more but we look forward to seeing you supporting our great Club on the terraces. Thanks for the unbelievable memories!