Oooh Pedro Mendes, Oooh Pedro Mendes. I used to love chanting that from the Fratton End…
..as one of Pedro’s shots pinged just past the post or flew over the bar or better still into the back of the net. Unfortunately I can sing it no more as the catalyst to our Great Escape is now establishing himself as a bit of a legend north of the boarder at Glasgow Rangers.
Rangers gain is definitely Pompey`s loss and in Pedro they have a diamond. A diamond who throughout his career has demonstrated that despite not always being the first name on most of his managers’ team sheets, hard work and the determination to succeed always pay off.
As Pompey prepare for our first ever European away game on the back of an impressive home win against Spurs ‘They Played’ looks back at a player who is celebrated everywhere he has plied his trade and who has endeared himself to every set of supporters whose team he has represented.
He Played For Them Both: Spurs & Guimaraes – Pedro Mendes
The Portuguese Years
Born and raised in Guimaraes, a young Mendes was soon snapped up by his local club but due to his slight frame was unable to break into the first team. At the age of 19 Pedro accepted a loan deal and a season playing for second division FC Felgueiras kick-started his professional career. Upon his return to Guimaraes Mendes didn’t take long to establish himself as a first team regular.
Season upon season of improvement culminated in an international call up and subsequent Portuguese debut in a 2-0 friendly win over Scotland in November 2002. His international status, together with his contribution to a fifth place finish and a Portuguese Super Cup victory soon made Guimarães realise it was going to be difficult to retain their man. In July 2003 a certain Mr. Mourinho came knocking and Pedro signed for FC Porto.
2003/04 was a remarkable season for FC Porto; their unbeaten home form provided the building blocks to an eight-point lead at the top of the league and five weeks before the end of the season, while involved in the latter stages of two cup competitions they claimed their 20th Super Liga title.
Porto lost the Portuguese Cup Final to Benfica but any disappointment felt was short lived as just two weeks later the team boasting such names as Carvalho, Deco, Nuno Valente, Paulo Ferreira, Costinha, Maniche and of course Mendes collected the Champions League Trophy when they thumped Monaco 3-0 at the Arena AufSchalke in Germany
That victory however proved to be the pinnacle of their success as within a month ‘The Special One’ was heading for Chelsea and a number of ‘his’ players, including Mendes also departed.
Welcome to the Premiership
After signing for Tottenham during in the transfer window of Summer 2004 as part of a deal which saw misfit striker Helder Postiga return to FC Porto, Mendes made his debut on the opening Saturday of the new season in a 1-1 home draw with Liverpool
Together with ‘arry’s boy Jamie, Pedro formed a formidable partnership in the heart of the Tottenham midfield playing 36 games in his first season at White Hart Lane. As has become the norm, Pedro’s goals per game ratio was pretty low and he only scored one that season, but it was a disallowed goal at Old Trafford three days later that will be remembered far more than his strike in Spurs 5-2 drubbing of Everton on New Years Day.
It`s a goal !
Deep into injury time, with the score 0-0, Pedro hit a speculative shot from inside his own half. What should have been a relatively easy catch for United goalie Roy Carroll was fumbled and the ball dropped over the line. As Mendes and his team mates turned to celebrate their win, the referee deemed the ball not to have ‘gone in’ and much to the bemusement of all involved, indicated ‘no goal’
TV replays later showed that the referee had clearly made a mistake as the ball had not only crossed the line, it had done so by a good 12 inches. So conclusive was the evidence that one bookmaker; William Hill, even paid out to those punters who had 20/1 bets on Mendes to score the first goal.
The controversy surrounding the event ran for days and reignited the debate about goal line technology. In fact the case in favour of technology was so watertight that another bookmaker offered odds of just 7-2 that a video referee would be used in the 2005 FA Cup final!
As we know that didn`t happen but every time a referee disallows a goal he shouldn’t, the ‘Mendes v Manchester United’ incident is held aloft as an example of why it should be introduced.
Welcome to Pompey – Shoot !
As manager Martin Jol tried to strengthen his midfield Mendes was gradually frozen out of the team and mid-way through only his second season his time at White Hart Lane came to an end when Jol agreed to accept a package deal of £7million for Mendes and team mates Sean Davis and Noe Pamarot.
The three ex-Spurs joined Harry’s rescue mission and made their debut in a 1-0 home defeat to Everton little over a week later, but it would be Mendes who impressed the most and after a couple of ‘settling in’ games became a pivotal player in Pompey`s fight to avoid relegation.
‘The greatest of great escapes’ has been well documented on numerous occasions but Pompey’s spirit and determination to return from the dead was perfectly characterised by a 2-1 Fratton victory over Manchester City. A game in which Pedro Mendes staked his claim for a place in Pompey history by scoring two cracking goals; the second, which will forever be etched on every Pompey fans memory, being a 93rd minute 25 yard wonder strike which gave us our first win in ten games and a much needed leg-up for what turned into a nine game unbeaten run and our eventual Premiership survival against all the odds.
Thatcher the Thug
Mendes had hoped to carry his good form into the 2006/07 season, but during only his second game, a goalless draw at Eastlands, his season and for a while his career, was over when he was left unconscious after having Manchester City’s Ben Thatcher smash his forearm into his face as the pair chased for possession. Mendes suffered a seizure and was rushed to hospital.
Although Pedro made a remarkably quick two week recovery from the savage challenge Thatcher, who initially received a yellow card from Referee Dermot Gallagher was immediately fined six weeks wages and banned for six games by City boss Stuart Pearce for the viciousness of his challenge and for once the FA did the right thing and despite having a general policy of not overruling referees decisions felt the incident was severe enough to issue further punishment. Thatcher was awarded an eight match ban ‘for serious foul play’ with a further 15 matches suspended. Mendes subsequently revealed that he considered quitting game after the incident and described it as the worst thing that had ever happened in his career.
Despite returning to the first team in little under three weeks Pedro was ruled out injured again in the February 2007 and was only to make one further appearance that season, as substitute on the final day of the campaign.
With the signing of Diop, Utaka, Muntari and finally Diarra, Pedro struggled to hold down a regular first team place last season making only 18 league and a couple of cup appearances but Harry’s reluctance to give him a starting berth just made the pony-tailed No.30 even more determined and in the final few weeks of the season Mendes did enough to warrant a place in the Cup Final starting XI and alongside Diarra he was instrumental in shutting up shop after Kanu had opened the door to victory.
We`re All Going on a European Tour ?
? a European tour, a European tour was the cry than rung around Wembley throughout the Community Shield just seven weeks ago. Little did we know that as Pedro walked from the pitch after being substituted for Arnie Mvuemba on 76 minutes that that was the last we would see of him in a Pompey shirt.
As speculation mounted about this transfer I never met one Pompey fan who wanted him to leave. Most felt Muntari’s departure was even more reason why we needed Pedro in his favoured central midfield role and based on his performance in the Community Shield it looked like he had the forming of a very good partnership with the talented Lassana Diarra, but it wasn`t to be
Mendes was uprooted from his plush Sandbanks home and signed for Rangers for a mere £3m – A snip by anybody’s standards and don`t the Rangers supporters know it. In a few short weeks Pedro has become the new darling of Ibrox playing a pivotal role in their quest for the treble and already contributing more goals (2) than he did in his final season for Pompey. Goals, as you’d expect, that got the crowd on their feet. As we know Pedro Mendes only ever scores important goals.
It`s a shame
It`s a shame Pedro Mendes will miss the chance of running out for Pompey on his home soil tomorrow night, but he can rest easy in the knowledge that the Guimaraes supporters and the hoards of travelling Pompey fans both hold him in the same high regard ?whoever he is supporting.
Oooh Pedro Mendes, Oooh Pedro Mendes, Oooh Pedro Mendes