World Cup: Five things you need to know about Portugal’s hat-trick hero Goncalo Ramos

Portugal's Goncalo Ramos celebrates after scoring his team's fifth goal. PHOTO: AFP

Move over Cristiano Ronaldo, there’s a new kid on the block at this World Cup. Just who is A Selecao’s latest hat-trick hero Goncalo Ramos?

1. Like father, like son

Ramos’ father is 44-year-old Manuel, who played in the Portuguese top flight around the turn of the millennium with less heralded clubs like Farense and Salgueiros.

Ramos senior was also an Under-21 international for Portugal, but his son would grow to outshine him.

Born in Olhao in 2001, the younger Ramos began his youth career at local club Olhanense and then Loule, before being picked up by Benfica.

His potential was obvious as he helped the giants reach the 2019-20 Uefa Youth League finals. They lost 3-2 to Real Madrid in which Ramos scored a brace to finish as joint-top scorer in the tournament with eight goals.

Goncalo Ramos (centre) heads the ball during the Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain. PHOTO: AFP

2. Making his time count

Much has been made about how Ramos scored four goals in his first 100 minutes of international action – including one in his international debut, a 4-0 win over Nigeria – but he has always been one to grab his opportunity.

Making his league debut for Benfica in 2020, he required just three minutes after coming on as a late substitute to score his first two senior goals in a 4-0 win over Aves.

This season, he has 14 goals and six assists in 21 games for Benfica as they opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the table and are still on course for a domestic treble. They came through the qualifiers of the Champions League and topped Group H with wins over Juventus and draws with Paris St-Germain.

Remarkably, his hat-trick in Portugal’s 6-1 win over Switzerland in the World Cup round of 16 is the sixth treble of his career since 2019, notching at least one a year ever since.

Goncalo Ramos (left) comes on as a substitute for Cristiano Ronaldo in the match against Ghana on Nov 24. PHOTO: REUTERS

3. He looks up to the giants

In a post-match interview Ramos said: “Cristiano Ronaldo (1.87m) has always been a role model, he is an idol for many. I also like Robert Lewandowski (1.85m) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (1.95m).”

Ramos is 1.85m himself, but he can walk taller now. After all, Ibrahimovic has never scored at the World Cup, Ronaldo has never scored in a World Cup knockout match, and while Lewandowski scored in the round of 16, Poland were eliminated by France.

Goncalo Ramos scores their first goal against Switzerland on Tuesday. PHOTO: REUTERS

4. He is The Sorcerer

Nicknamed “O Feiticeiro” (Portuguese for The Sorcerer), Ramos makes things happen on the pitch.

Just look at his goals against Switzerland. The first was a rembat (local Malay slang for powerful shot) with his left foot from a tight angle, he nipped in cleverly at the near post for the second, and his third was a cheeky dink over Yann Sommer with his right leg.

He also has a bullet header, a quick turn of pace and an acute awareness of space. Observers note that Ramos is a complete package who can play as the main striker, or, as he showed while being an understudy to Darwin Nunez at Benfica in previous season, he can also function in a deeper role.

5. He is football’s next hot property

World Cups usually catapult some young guns into stardom, and just like Dutch starlet Cody Gakpo, Ramos seems set for that, especially if he keeps getting to perform his gun-slinging celebration.

Newcastle, Brighton and Leeds were rumoured to be chasing his signature before the World Cup and they will have a lot more competition after Qatar 2022. However, he is contracted to Benfica until 2025 and does have a reported €120 million (S$171 million) release clause which few will be able to match.

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