Former Portuguese International Retires

Former Porto and Braga winger Helder Barbosa has retired from football aged 36.

Barbosa, a two-time title winner in Portugal with Porto, posted a message on his Instagram account to announce the news, which comes following the conclusion of his time with Liga 3 side Varzim in the summer.

In a short post accompanied by some clips of him in action, the winger said: “The time has come to say goodbye to my biggest dream, time to say goodbye to football. I spent 31 years doing what I love most, 21 of them as a professional. I ran the world with the ball at my feet, I saw what I only expected to see in dreams, I achieved much more than I imagined.”

Barbosa came through the youth ranks at Porto, and whilst he has two titles to his name during his time with the club, he was a bit-part player in the successes, appearing just twice over a three-season period. He enjoyed some top-flight football, with two loan spells at Académica bringing 25 outings and four goals. He also had loan spells with Trofense and Vitória Setúbal before being released.

That experience was enough for SC Braga to hand him a three-year deal, and he quickly established himself as a key player as they finished fourth in the table. He played more than 100 times for Braga, 23 of those outings coming in the Champions League and Europa League. His form earned him a solitary call-up to the Portugal side, having previously turned down Morocco as a youth. He made his sole appearance for Portugal in November 2012 in a friendly with Gabon, playing the last 11 minutes in a 2–2 draw.

After a short spell in La Liga as a loan signing for Almerion, he moved to AEK in Greece, helping them to return to the Greek Super League after a two-season absence. A year later, he helped them lift the Greek Cup before spells in the UAE with Al-Wasl, and finally, a switch to Turkey with Akhisarspor, where he won a Turkish Cup and the Super Cup. Further short stays with Hatayspor (Turkey) and Panetolikos (Greece) followed before he returned home with Varzim. 

“Thank you to my coaches for everything they taught me and especially to my colleagues for SO MUCH they gave me! You were/are the best that football brought me,” he added in his post.  “I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I will go with the same focus as always, now holding on to everything you all taught me. I was privileged, thank you!”

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Barbosa was always just on the cusp of making it in international football, but his career is still one to be proud of. His spell at Braga saw him flirting with recognition on the international stage, but cup wins in Greece and Turkey will surely rank as highlights.

As for English fans, they may remember him for hitting a brace against Birmingham City in the Europa League – he was a sensation that night at St Andrews. At 36, he’s had a long and rich career and has much to be proud of.


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