Turkish football giants Besiktas will be challenging England’s Stoke City for their Europa League group leadership on Wednesday night. Besiktas’ Portugese captain, Ricardo Quaresma who brought his team to the point of qualification with his last minute winning goal in Tel Aviv, talked to Euronews’ Istanbul correspondent Bora Bayraktar. Quaresma said any UEFA final is hard to achieve but they are ready to fight for it. Ricardo Quaresma also evaluated Portugal’s chances in Euro 2012.
Bora Bayraktar, euronews: Ricardo, you have played very good games during the last 4-5 matches. But you had an injury in the last game. How serious is that?
Quaresma: Actually I play the same in general. But when you do not score goals you are not considered good enough. In today’s football what is important is not scoring goals. It is how you join the team and take your responsibilities. Only goals were missing in previous games. I scored during last games and then people started to think that my performance increased. This also makes me happy too. Scoring goals, reflecting my style to the field is great. I had a small injury against Manisaspor. Injuries always upset players. But my recovery process is going very well. I hope to start playing soon.
euronews: You took the responsibility of being the captain of the team. Did it contribute to your motivation?
Quaresma: Players have good times and the bad times. Now obviously I am having good times. I am the captain. It does not only mean that you put a “C” sign on your arm. It brings new responsibilities on you. I have to be a good example to my team mates. I have to represent them. These are all responsibilities. But these are good, honourable responsibilities. This makes me happy and contributes to my motivation.
euronews: You opened the way for Besiktas with a last minute goal. You are not going to play against Stoke City but Besiktas is likely to continue in the Europa League. Very strong teams have come from the Champions League. Manchester United, Manchester City are among them. It now looks like another Champions League. What is the chance of Besiktas in the tournament? Can you get to the final?
Quaresma: Yes, as you said with new teams from Champions League, the UEFA Europa League became very important this year. That’s why the Stoke City game is very important for us. If we beat them we will show everyone that we are a big team. It is a great opportunity. If we win and continue we will be group leader and will delay playing against big teams. If we become second in the group then we have to face one of these strong teams. If this will be the case we will show our desire to win, desire to move forward whatever the price of it. We will have to fight to show them that we are better. We are ready to do it.
euronews: You also play for the Portuguese national team. What should we expect from Portugal in Euro 2012? Will Portugal win the title this time?
Quaresma: I can only guarantee that we will work hard for it. We will work hard to play good and as a result of it I hope, we will be in a good place in the tournament. No national team can guarantee winning a tournament. But we have a very good team. We have special talents, high quality players. But we should never forget that very strong teams will join this tournament and we have to respect them. We will struggle against them, we will put our full effort against them. We have capacity to do great things. We want to show this in the field and finish the tournament in a good place.
euronews: No question that Besiktas has among the best supporters in the world. And you are like a magician for them. How do you feel when fans chant your name?
Quaresma: When they sing songs I can understand a little of it. I know some words in Turkish. But when they chant my name it will give extra energy to me. I try to fuel my team with rising stamina. It makes me very happy. In general, I can say that Besiktas fans are the best in the world. They are very different, very noisy. When we play at home we feel very strong on the field with their support. This is a great advantage for us and a disadvantage for our rivals. Rival teams are afraid of this noise. They have difficulty playing in this noisy, fantastic atmosphere. It is true not only for local games but also for international games. When they play here they know that it will not be easy. And that is great advantage for us.
Bora Bayraktar, Istanbul