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Monday, December 13, 2010Miguel DaSilva left his home country of Angola at the age of 13.
When he returns Dec. 23 it will be his first time back in the country since 2001. DaSilva will graduate Saturday from Lipscomb University with a bachelorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s degree in International Business with a minor in Spanish.
He will join the Santos FC team in the Angola Premier League. DaSilva, a forward for the Bisons, hopes that this will be the next step towards his goal of playing for the Angolan National Team. The Santos FC team is a branch of the one in Brazil that PeleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ once played for back in the 1970s.
DaSilva made the announcement in front of his coaches, Charles Morrow and Kevin Burk; athletic director Philip Hutcheson and members of the athletic department and his teammates. It was an emotional announcement for DaSilva who shed more than a few tears when talking about how much he would miss his teammates.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is my home,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said of his time at Lipscomb. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really hit me. I am really sad that I am moving on. I am leaving a lot of great people behind. But at the same time I am very happy.Ã¢â‚¬Â
DaSilva scored 32 goals and added 28 assists over four seasons for the Bisons.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Soccer is a team sport,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The team comes before anybody. I would never have all of the stats that I have or be in this position without my teammates.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t an easy road for DaSilva who fought through his share of injury problems. He was completely healthy for his senior year and became more of a factor as the season progressed, earning second team All-Atlantic Sun honors and second team All-Region from the National Soccer Coaches Association. He is the first Lipscomb player to earn All-Region honors.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had asked myself if I was every going to be healthy again,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But with God all things are possible.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Morrow ranks DaSilva as the best player to have represented Lipscomb in the history of the soccer program.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When he is healthy there is no question he is the best player we have ever had here,Ã¢â‚¬Â Morrow said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Anytime you have a player go on to play professionally it is a boost for the program and a boost for the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It communicates to our recruits and our current players that if they do what they are supposed to do and excel that this is a place they can move on from. The last couple of years he has been talking about going back to Angola. We would like to keep him here. But there is more stability there now and it is his home.Ã¢â‚¬Â
DaSilva decided he needed to come to the United States to play soccer. He made the trip without an escort, arriving in AtlantaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Hartsfield Airport on Sept. 11, 2001, the same day that airlines and airports were shut down as the result of the terroristsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He could not speak a word of English when he arrived.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wanted to come to America for college, get an education and go back home,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said.
DaSilva also was considering opportunities to play in either Portugal or Finland as well.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Something inside of me kept telling me I needed to go back home,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I needed to go back to Angola where I started. The deal just happened. God was really working on this.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Part of the contract for DaSilva is a house. He will live in Luanda, the capital of Angola, a city of seven million people and the place where he was born. The team is owned by JoseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Eduardo dos Santos, the president of the country.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wish some people could go with me and see what Angola is like,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Angola is beautiful. Angola is called the country of happiness.Ã¢â‚¬Â
DaSilva started playing soccer on the streets and dirt fields in Luanda when he was four.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I would come home from school, throw my bags in the house and go out and play soccer anywhere I could find a place to play,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I would play from around 3 in the afternoon until about 7 when the lights went out.Ã¢â‚¬Â
DaSilva only played organized soccer for one year before I came to America.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I played for a youth team in Angola,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There were 100 kids that tried out, but only 18 of us made the team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It became too far for me to play for them. I had to take two buses to get out there. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have anyone to take me out there or bring me back home.Ã¢â‚¬Â
DaSilva stressed that the most talented players could be found playing in the streets and in the dirt fields.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“A lot of the players donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the chance to play organized soccer there,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said.
On Jan. 2 he will be part of a press conference in Angola. Practice will begin a few days later with two weeks of preseason practice in Brazil. The regular season begins in February.
The Angola Premier League has 16 teams. Santos FC finished 12th this past season. The goal this year is to advance to the top six.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My driving force is to play for the Angolan National Team for 2012,Ã¢â‚¬Â DaSilva said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If I give my all I will have a chance to do that. I am hoping to be able to represent my country.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Hutcheson remembers that his first conversation with DaSilva centered on a desire to return to Angola.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am happy Miguel has that opportunity,Ã¢â‚¬Â Hutcheson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have expectations that he will have nothing but great things ahead for him.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Writteb by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.