During the 2004/05 season, Preston North End had one of the world’s brightest young talents on their hands.
Filipe Oliveira was only on loan at Deepdale, but having a Portugal youth international in the ranks is exciting regardless.
The midfielder’s spell with parent club Chelsea and loan club Preston didn’t work out quite as well as he would have hoped, but Oliveira forged a respectable career for himself after leaving England.
He went on to represent the likes of Maritimo, Braga, Parma and Torino, before finding a home in Hungary with Videoton.
The former Lilywhite recently opened up about his career in an interview with Chelsea Presser’s Jonty Colman.
Oliveira was just a teenager when he moved to Chelsea and described it as a ‘good step’ in his career:
“Chelsea bought me and it was a good step for me. I was an under-19 national champion in Porto, but after I felt that it was the right option to come to England, to play English football and to grow here and everybody welcomed me very well and I had all of the support. (Pointing to a hotel in London) I used to live there for nine months, my first nine months in my first season.”
However, he insisted that the decision to move was a difficult one:
“It was not a hard decision regarding football. Family wise, it was a much harder decision because I came from a very traditional Portuguese family, I have a younger brother. For 14 years, I was a single son, so my parents always protected me, it was a big step for me and for them as well. It is always hard for your oldest son to leave home to a new country, a new language, new culture, but they knew I had all of the conditions to develop here. I am very glad I took the opportunity.”
Much is made of how daunting it can be to fly the nest at a young age and even more is made of how difficult it is to adapt to the English game. Oliveira discussed the advice he was given by Chelsea coaches and the areas of his game that he needed to develop:
“At the beginning it was hard because here, the football was much more physical, and I remember very well that I came as a typical Portuguese player, with speed, technique, some tactical knowledge but in the physical aspect I needed to grow much more. In the first weeks, I remember my coaches at the time, Steve Clark with the youth team and Mick McGiven with the second team, both of them spoke with me and said they you will not win fouls easy and you will not get free-kicks, you need to develop this part of your game, but don’t worry, slowly, we will help you to develop this part of your game and you will sort it out. In the beginning it was more of this impact, language wise was easy because I could already speak English so it was not a big problem and they received me very well.”
When it became clear that first-team opportunities at Stamford Bridge would be limited, Oliveira made the switch to Preston and his time there was something the former midfielder spoke candidly about:
“I went on loan to Preston and I felt that I was capable of playing at that level. With all respect, I did not feel that I would grow as part of the reserve team, and after playing around four seasons here, I felt that it was the moment to do something different and develop my game and not stop at all.
I don’t speak with anyone there (at Preston) to be honest but I have very good memories. I went to the north of England and I felt that the people there welcomed foreigners very well. After one or two weeks, I felt like I had a lived there for a very long period because everybody was so gentle with me. Even the players, Claude Davies, Patrick Agyemang, there were three or four players that were a really good group. If I had any problems, I would speak with them and they would sort it out, it makes you feel very good. At the time, the manager was Billy Davies, he helped as well to settle and to explain what the ideas of the club were. I was only there for one month, because after, Chelsea decided not to let me stay there and I very much enjoyed my experience there, I felt like I could have stayed there another six months. At the time, Chelsea decided not to let me stay and I had to go back.”
Jonty Colman’s full interview with the former Preston loanee is available to read on the Chelsea Presser’s official website.