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Joao Cancelo Opens Up About Mother's Tragic Passing In Emotional Interview

Josh Lawless

| Last updated 

Joao Cancelo Opens Up About Mother's Tragic Passing In Emotional Interview

Joao Cancelo has opened up about his mother's tragic passing and how it nearly led to him stopping playing football.

On a Saturday in January 2013, Filomena lost her life in a car accident. It left Cancelo, his younger brother Pedro and father Joseph, utterly devastated.

Filomena had dropped Joseph off at the airport and on the way back along the A2 motorway in Seixal, near Lisbon, the Audi 3 vehicle she was driving was involved in a collision.

Both sons were asleep in the car and suffered minor injuries. But Filomena died and Cancelo wrote a heartbreaking post on Facebook, explaining he had lost the "light of my life" and was "dead inside".

At the time, Cancelo was just 18 years of age and playing for Benfica's B-team. Understandably, the loss took its toll on Cancelo and he thought about giving up.

Image: PA
Image: PA

But he knew that she would have wanted him to continue playing as she was "a big part" of his love for the beautiful game.

"When I lost my mother, I felt like I was at the bottom of a well," Cancelo said in an emotional interview with Caroline De Moraes in Champions Journal, as relayed by Manchester City's official website.

"I felt like a robot that had to do its job, then go home, then another day – day in, day out. When I lost my mother, I didn’t enjoy my football; I was playing because I had to. I really thought of giving up because it didn’t make sense anymore.

"But the Benfica staff were constantly calling, asking me to come back because they believed in my potential.

“My father let things calm down, then he spoke to me. He said that both he and my brother needed me, they needed me to have the strength to continue because my father had to stay; he couldn’t go back to Switzerland anymore.

“I had already signed a professional contract with Benfica by then and much of my money was used to support my family, so I decided to play again. At first it wasn’t easy. I had no strength, no desire, but that conversation with my father and the love I have for this sport made me overcome everything.

“My love for the game started to gradually come back; my smile slowly returned. That’s what life is about. However big our losses, we have to carry on. I read a lot of stuff about warriors and certain things really resonate with me.

“I would really like to be able to talk to my mother because there’s always something missing. Even when I achieve something important, there’s always this feeling there. It’s as if I always have an emptiness in my heart because she is not physically there.

“In Portugal, I always go to the cemetery to see her. It’s like an obligation I have. That’s where I feel good, next to her. Even though she is not physically there, I feel good. It cleanses my soul, my bad energies, and helps me live happier.

“A big part of my love for football is due to my mother. I had great moments with her. Often when I play at the stadium, here in Manchester or even with the national team, I’ve felt like I had her watching. I would always look over to the stands before a game started, but now she’s not there."

It didn't quite happen for Cancelo at Benfica but he found success with Valencia, Inter Milan and Juventus before ending up at Manchester City, where he's been an utter revelation.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Cancelo has gone on to become one of the best full-backs in world football and completely redefined the role under Pep Guardiola's tutelage.

His mum would be incredibly proud of what he's achieved. The 27-year-old also has a family of his own - his girlfriend Daniela giving birth to their daughter Alicia in December 2019.

The family were caught up in a frightening ordeal in December as thieves broke into their home and stole jewellery.

Cancelo was left with a cut above his eye as he tried to protect his family.

Cancelo never forgets his mother and can always be seen pointing to the sky in celebration whenever he scores.

And he's found a new type of love and devotion through his daughter, who is now three.

He continued: “I thought that nothing would ever surpass the love I had for my mother – then my daughter was born, which is an inexplicable love. The best thing after a hard and tiring day at work is to come home and get a hug and a kiss from your daughter.

“Some things are just priceless. No matter how much money we make and no matter how good our quality of life is, the best thing in life is the little moments that our children bring us.

"I just want to see her healthy. I’m working hard today so that she can have a future and live peacefully. I do not want her to go through the hard times that my parents and I did.”

Featured Image Credit: Image: PA

Topics: Joao Cancelo, Manchester City, Premier League, Benfica, Valencia

Josh Lawless
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