Top scorer and Golden Player at the 2016 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, where he eclipsed Paco Alcácer as the competition’s all-time leading marksman, José Gomes has broken into the Benfica first team this season – ‘Zé Golo’ becoming the Eagles’ youngest ever player in Europe, aged 17 years and 174 days.
Name: José Gomes
Debut: 9 September 2016 v Arouca
Born: 8 April 1999
Preferred foot: right
They say …
“José Gomes has been working really well. His development has been fast-tracked somewhat [because of injuries to other forwards] but sometimes this is how it works. Young players have to be ready because sometimes their opportunity comes when you least expect it. José Gomes, like other youngsters here, has been working with the seniors for a while and he has done well. He is an example of a Benfica-grown player and he knows what that signifies. I’m counting on him.”
Rui Vitória, Benfica coach
“I see José Gomes as a natural talent who might become Portugal’s striker in a not-too-distant future. He is a natural goalscorer, but because he is so good technically, he also likes to play the ball. He is a nine who is capable of making the difference, judging by what we have seen so far and his performances at the U17 EURO.”
Nuno Gomes, former Benfica attacker
Born in Guinea-Bissau, west Africa, Gomes eventually moved to Benfica after impressing in a youth tournament in the Algarve in 2011. He found the net with regularity at youth level and, after his U17 EURO exploits this summer, made his first B team appearance in August. However, with coach Vitória facing an injury crisis up front last month, Gomes was drafted into the senior squad and awarded his debut as a late substitute in a 2-1 Liga victory at Arouca. He subsequently featured in Benfica’s 4-2 UEFA Champions League loss at Napoli on 28 September to become the club’s youngest ever UEFA competition player, at 17 years and 174 days.
Playing style …
Gomes is a natural finisher, a penalty-box predator, as seen at the U17 EURO in Azerbaijan last May. Whenever his team-mates put the ball into the box, Gomes was usually on the end of it – that five of his seven goals were headers illustrates the height of his prowess.
Shades of …
For Benfica’s older supporters there is one name that comes to their minds when they think of José Gomes. The youngster’s style of play and predatory instinct makes reminds them of former striker Nené, who played for the club in the decades of 1970 and 1980, scoring a total of 363 goals in 576 matches for the Eagles and shinning in Portugal’s 1984 UEFA European Championship run, where he scored once in an important 1-0 victory against Romania.
Eureka moment …
Gomes showcased his talent by scoring seven times in only five UEFA Youth League outings last term. He then announced himself to a wider audience, a pan-European television one, by matching that haul in Portugal’s U17 EURO triumph in Baku, including a hat-trick in a 5-0 quarter-final defeat of Austria.
Best-case scenario …
Benfica’s striking prodigy is still only 17 so, in the short term, his opportunities may dwindle as more experienced forwards like Jonas and Raúl Jiménez regain their fitness. Yet if he keeps progressing as he has done so far, and thus accumulating minutes on the pitch and experience, then he might vie for a place in Portugal’s squad for the U21 EURO in Poland next summer. And we’ve already seen what he can do in final tournaments!
He says …
“I’m a striker, it’s my job to score, so it’s very pleasing [to top the U17 EURO goal charts]. I want to work hard, improve with every training session and every game, and make it into Benfica’s first team.” Gomes speaking after his Azerbaijani success
“It has been a special day for me. I am delighted to make my debut in this stadium and also happy because we won. I want to thank all the fans for the affection they have been showing me” The teenager’s reaction after his home Liga debut, against Braga on 19 September