Fernando De Moraes mesmerised defenders in the Victorian Premier League for almost a decade with skills he honed growing up in Brazil on the futsal court.
The 37-year-old is recognised as one of the greatest players in South Melbourne’s history after a nine-year VPL career at Lakeside Stadium.
After retiring at the end of the 2013 campaign, De Moraes continued to play for Fitzroy Futsal and has been fostering the talent of the sport’s next generation as director of coaching at Futsal Oz.
“(It) immensely helps your skills, your decision-making and especially your touch,” De Moreas said.
“Outdoor, a lot of the players have a very heavy touch. Because I grew up playing futsal, I always had the ball underneath my foot.
“I always liked to keep the ball next to me.”
De Moraes, an attacking midfielder who played in South Melbourne’s 2006 VPL championship-winning side, first played futsal as a four-year-old.
After gaining his Australian citizenship in 2007, the Pascoe Vale resident was called up to Australia’s national futsal team — the Futsalroos.
He has captained the national team throughout his international career and been involved at two World Cups in 2012 and 2016.
“You have a lot of examples of players out there, they grew up playing futsal,” he said.
“Now they are big players.”
De Moraes said competing against his native Brazil and Argentina had been highlights of his futsal career.
“To represent and take the nation out there, play in a World Cup in front of how many viewers, it’s amazing,” he said.
“Playing against Argentina, Brazil, it’s something that you will never forget.”
De Moraes, who is regarded as South Melbourne’s best player of the VPL era, said playing futsal growing up had been pivotal to his success as an outdoor soccer player.
“Every week I was playing futsal, which I don’t think I will ever stop,” he said.
“I had coaches asking me to stop because of injuries … I said ‘no, I’m not going to stop’.
“That’s what made me a better player.”
De Moraes, who featured in 174 matches for South Melbourne, was also crowned the VPL player of the season in 2010.
Futsal Oz runs competitions in Brunswick, Thomastown and Mt Evelyn.
Details: 1300 788 799.
By Tim Mitchell