FROM RIO TO FRIO (COLD)
Like most young Brazilians, new Utica City FC forward Ricardo Diegues was seemingly born with a soccer ball at his feet.
Spending the first 21 years of his life in Rio de Janiero, Diegues played soccer whenever and wherever he could, always maintaining the goal of turning pro. “My whole life I was always playing soccer either with my friends or in a club,” the 29-year-old target said. “When I decided I wanted to take soccer more seriously…(my family) supported me which is something not every family in Brazil supports because it is a very hard path to take and do.”
A step in his process to “take soccer more seriously” was leaving his family and friends in order to undertake a collegiate career at the University of Texas-Brownsville. The value of the college experience had less to do with playing soccer and more to do with the education he received.
“My family was happy that I could come learn English and get a degree,” he said.
After electrifying UT-Brownsville with his goal scoring prowess and a flair to his game that traces to his Brazilian roots, Diegues embarked on his pro career. It was evident right away that he brought a rare skillset to the indoor game. His finishing ability and control set him apart and will be on full display the first time he pulls a UCFC jersey over his head.
“I feel like I am very technical player so I can control the ball well, I am not the fastest player but I have good technique to control and assist,” the left-footer said. “But for sure my biggest strength is to score goals, I can finish well in any condition.”
And if he can improve on his 24-goal campaign from a season ago, there’s no reason to suggest that he will be anything other than beloved by the Utica faithful.
“I just want the fans to know that I am really excited to come and experience the feeling inside the arena and get it packed with fans,” Diegues added. “It’s gonna be great to be there and play for them. I’m pretty excited and you can expect good things for the next season.”
The good things might get magnified when he takes to the pitch and is reunited with former teammate—and fellow goal-scoring machine—Moises Gonzalez. “I played with (Moises) four years ago in RGV. I was excited to see that he had signed with Utica too,” Diegues said.
Moises Gonzalez isn’t the only teammate Diegues is excited about, as the sure-footed forward sang the praise of Bo Jelovac and Slavisa Ubiparipovic.
“Bo is a really good player,” he said. “I have always wondered how it is to play with him because it is so hard to play against him. I can’t wait to connect with Slav and assist him with scoring goals and get assists from him. It should be really good to play with him.”
And while the excitement from Diegues is obvious, there is one undeniable truth. His soccer stops have taken him from Brazil to Texas and eventually down to Florida. Snow, ice, and cold haven’t been a part of his lifestyle.
Good thing it’s always 70 degrees and sunny inside the Adirondack Bank Center.