Meet The Record-Breaking Teenager Who Is Being Compared To His Idol Cristiano Ronaldo
As soon as I mention the name Cristiano Ronaldo, a huge grin appears on the face of Fabio Silva.
Growing up in the city of Gondomar; a municipality just east of Porto, the ambitious and single-minded youngster always looked up to Portugal's all-time top goalscorer. Like so many aspiring footballers, he dreamt of one day following in his idol's footsteps.
So when Silva, at the age of just 15, was compared to the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, he was left awestruck. Time stood still.
It is the summer of 2018 and former Boavista and Portugal international Jorge Silva was watching a segment about the nation's greatest player on news station SIC Noticias when, out of nowhere, Sporting legend Manuel Fernandes mentions his son's name.
Jorge quickly calls Fabio into the living room of their home.
"When Ronaldo was 17, he played as a centre-forward for Sporting's youth teams," Fernandes began. "I saw him doing things that I'm now seeing a boy from FC Porto do: Fabio Silva. He will be a hell of a player. In a short time, he will be an extraordinary striker."
It was a "spectacular" moment, according to a proud Jorge, who says Fabio was left "amazed" and "open-mouthed" by what he saw on TV that day.
"He thought it was just to give some news about Cristiano's future." the 44-year-old recalls.
After idolising him as a child, Fabio was being compared to a five-time Champions League winner by one of the most respected figures in Portugal.
Two years later and SPORTbible sat down with FC Porto's highly-rated striker, who remembers being compared to the five-time Ballon d'Or winner with fond memories.
"It is something that fills me with pride," Fabio tells us. "Being compared to the player I most admire in world football gives me more motivation to continue working and improving.
"For me, he [Ronaldo] is the best in the history of football, so being compared to such a legendary player. It's an amazing feeling."
Silva's maturity and humble nature is striking. The comparison to Ronaldo was certainly welcome but he knows this is only the beginning of his journey in football.
"He is an absolute inspiration and as a young player, it's so important to have a role model like Cristiano. But it is also a sign of responsibility and the trust people put on me.
"After listening to some of those comments from former players, it's just another push of motivation to write my own history."
Like his idol Ronaldo, the enigmatic striker has broken plenty of records.
He became the youngest debutant in Primeira Liga history after being brought on for the final 11 minutes against Gil Vicente last year, and soon became the youngest starter in FC Porto's history at 17 years, two months and six days old in the club's clash against Santa Clara in September 2019.
The teenager also made history by becoming the club's youngest Primeira Liga goalscorer at 17 years and three months, beating previous record holder Ruben Neves with an 88th minute goal against league-leaders Famalicao after being brought on as a substitute, just two minutes prior to the finish.
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It has been the perfect start to life in FC Porto's first team, but his emergence has not come as a surprise to those who watched him progress at youth level. Before his memorable debut at the Estádio Cidade de Barcelos in August last year, the youngster scored 31 goals in 33 matches with the U17 squad.
He then made the jump to U19 level, picking up the Championship's top scorer award, netting 33 times in 39 games.
The 18-year-old's talent was always highly regarded by those in Porto's youth system but now he is gaining a reputation in Portugal for not just his talent, but an incredible work ethic.
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By the age of eight he was snapped up by scouts but two years earlier his coach, Pedro Fonseca, spotted an elite mentality that made him stand out from the crowd.
"It was noted that there was something special, especially in relation to the ball," Fonseca told Mais Futebol.
"But he had a difficulty in that he hated to lose. He punished himself when he lost. Sometimes we did natural technique exercises at those ages, and he got bored. Why? It was easy for him to do them."
Marc Vieira also coached Silva during his first three years at FC Porto and noticed a special talent early on.
"Fabio was already advanced, at least that's what we detected. He always played above his age because he had the characteristics for it. He scored many goals and had an agility typical of the strikers. He had a lot of technique and an ease to finish in many ways even though he was a little boy.
"He had the typical calmness of a striker to receive the ball in the area and finish. There seemed no time left, but he could do it."
As he continued to impress at youth level, Silva decided to leave Porto in 2015 and join Benfica after following eldest brother Jorge to Lisbon.
He spent two productive years in Portugal's capital and naturally, transfer interest started to arrive from elsewhere. In 2017, the teenager reportedly had offers from a number of top European clubs but in the end, he chose to rejoin his former club.
"At the time I thought it would be the best thing for me, although for two years things went well at Benfica and everyone treated me very good. I ended up following my heart and returning to my club. I love this club. It was a decision I took with my family, I don't regret it."
Last year, after such an impressive breakthrough at the Estadio do Dragao, Silva signed a new deal which included a minimum fee release clause of 125 million euros; the highest in Primeira Liga history.
"It was important because it reinforced the trust that the club had on me," Silva says of his new deal at FC Porto.
"But I am not concerned with the clause itself because I am aware that modern football lives on it and it is something that does not affect or concern me. My only focus is to work everyday to be better and live up to expectations."
Like his idol, Silva is working hard to improve every day. After so many comparisons with the man himself, as well as making a breakthrough at U17 and U19 level with Portugal, he still hasn't met Ronaldo, although he would love to play alongside him one day.
"He sent me a couple of shirts when he played for Real Madrid and recently at Juventus.
"I hope to one day get the chance to meet him but also play alongside him. It would be amazing to play alongside my role model and get some advice. It could be a great forward two in the attack of Portugal!"
A front two of Ronaldo and Silva would be something, although many fans of the Football Manager franchise would suggest the Portuguese teenager will become even better than the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, based on his in-game stats.
"Everybody tells me the same. "I'm a wonderkid in the game!" It's good to know."
Silva's rapid rise to the top is being noticed in real life and in the virtual world. He will be hoping to push on and create even more history in the coming days, months and years.
One thing is for certain; he has all the ingredients to become a top player as he embarks on a new challenge with Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Featured Image Credit: Fabio Silva/Instagram