Friday, 17 May 2019

After the FA Cup final I'll answer God's call to become a pastor - Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes


The days are ticking by and Heurelho Gomes hasn't heard a thing. No hint, no inkling, no wink of reassurance about a decision that has been taken as a foregone conclusion up in the clouds.

'There are 11 of them coming on planes,' he tells Sportsmail. 'That is six brothers and four sisters. My mum, she is coming too.

'They are flying here from Brazil. The only one who is not is one of my brothers. He cannot make it, but the rest, they are coming. They all expect me to play. Me? I expect nothing, my friend.'

With that comes the warm laugh of a warm man whose life as a goalkeeper is '99 per cent' certain to end with Saturday's FA Cup final, whether he gets the gig or not.

What the 38-year-old has planned for his second life will be every bit as interesting, and possibly even more so, but first Gomes has to deal with the countdown. The not knowing.

The uncertainty over whether he will start for Watford against Manchester City at Wembley, just as he started the previous five rounds, or whether Javi Gracia will go with Ben Foster, who played every minute of every Premier League game.

One is the first choice, one is the romantic choice, even if we know Gomes's capabilities, reliability and the dynamics of the modern squad make him more than that.

Foster himself says Gomes should start, and most neutrals with a beating heart want the same, as will a hefty chunk of Watford fans for their first final in 35 years - but then there's Gomes himself.

'People might not believe it but, really, if Ben plays I am cool with this, 100 per cent,' he says. 'I have been told nothing by no one about who it will be. I will probably find out in the meeting on the morning of the game and I will be cool either way.

'People will think I'm just saying this but no. This is a team. I am part of it but I am not it. In my contract it doesn't say I must play finals or every game. If someone is ahead of me I respect it.

'If my job is to play in this final I will be prepared. If my job is to not play I will still be prepared to play and I will do everything I can to help Ben. That might sound like something people do not believe, but please, believe me, that is the full truth. My joy is the team's joy. I want to help in any way I can.' He's that kind of guy.

Helping is what Gomes does. Always has done. In a basic sense, and in the parlance of football, that meant helping Cruzeiro to a league and cup double in Brazil in 2003 and helping PSV Eindhoven to four straight Eredivisie titles between 2005 and 2008.

In a deeper form of the term, helping is what he has done in the 11 years in England when he has not been winning trophies.

It is reasonably well known that the big friendly giant from Brazil has been a one-man welcoming committee and adjustment bureau for new arrivals from South America to his Premier League clubs.

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