Monday, January 20, 2014

Fernando draws end to glittering South career


By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC regrets to advise that its Championship winning player Fernando De Moraes will not play for the Club in 2014. Fernando, who has otherwise been known around the Club as ‘Fern’ or ‘Nando’, leaves behind an outstanding playing career with his beloved Blue and Whites.

Officially Fernando became a South Melbourne FC player on Friday 18 March 2005 when he signed for John Anastasiadis’ side, though he had trialled with the Club a few years earlier when it was in the old National Soccer League. At the 2013 South Melbourne FC Gala Ball, Fernando humorously noted that Anastasiadis was initially reluctant to sign him so he also went for trials at the Bentleigh Greens. Anastasiadis then gave him a chance to shine in a friendly match and was impressed with what he saw.

At the time of his signing, Fernando noted that “I saw South play in the World Club Championship in Brazil back in 2000 against some of the biggest sides in the world…from there I always wanted to play for the Club.” Anastasiadis was pleased to sign his new star, adding that “Fernando comes from a place known for its flash and brilliance, and we hope that some of that can be put on show throughout the 2005 season”, something that definitely occurred many times throughout his playing career at the Club.

Fernando De Moraes made his South Melbourne FC debut against Green Gully at Green Gully Reserve on Sunday 10 April 2005, a game that Green Gully won 1-0 in front of a crowd of 2500. He made his home debut at Lakeside Stadium the following Sunday as Preston defeated South 1-0 in front of a crowd of over 7000. His first goal for the Club didn’t arrive until Sunday 5 June when his free kick from outside the box in the 87th minute sealed a 3-1 victory against the Frankston Pines at Lakeside Stadium.

Fernando only scored three goals in 2005 but had a break-out 2006 season that elevated his status to a champion player not only for South but for the entire Victorian Premier League. He scored 12 goals over the course of the season – including scoring a double on three occasions – with his goals helping South cement a third placed finish on the Premier League ladder.

Despite all those goals, his most important contribution that season (and perhaps in his entire South career) was his assist from a left-footed cross from the left side that found Gianni De Nittis to head home the winning goal in the Grand Final against Altona Magic on Sunday 24 September 2006. Not surprisingly, Fernando was awarded the Jimmy Rooney Medal that day as the best player on the field in the Grand Final, the first of many awards for him at South.

Despite South’s disappointing 2007 and 2008 seasons, Fernando played his part by scoring 13 goals during those seasons (four in 2007 and nine in 2008), winning the SMFC Golden Boot in 2008. In 2009, he scored seven goals – including a cheeky goal in the final round of the home and away season against Sunshine George Cross (Sunday 15 August 2009 at Lakeside Stadium) 

– that gave South a 1-0 victory and ensured that it qualified for the finals series in the Club’s 50th year. He had another outstanding year in 2010, with fourteen goals across all competitions (13 in the League, 1 in the Singapore Cup) and scored his 50th League goal for the Club the following season against St Albans in the 2-0 victory at Churchill Reserve on Sunday 3 April 2011. Fernando’s biggest haul of goals in a single match was when he scored six goals in the 14-0 demolition of Yarraville Glory in the fifth round of the Dockerty Cup at John Cain Reserve on Tuesday 26 April 2011.

His 2012 and 2013 seasons were the quietest for him in terms of League matches played and goals scored, however he still made important contributions to the team. His equalising goal against the Oakleigh Cannons on Friday 30 March 2012 got the ball rolling for South as it steamrolled the Cannons to win 3-1 at Jack Edwards Reserve. In last year’s Dockerty Cup Quarter Final on Tuesday 23 July 2013, South fought back from 0-2 down to level 2-2 with Preston before Fernando stepped up and scored two goals to seal a 4-2 victory and passage through to the Semi Finals of that competition.

Speaking to, SMFC President Leo Athanasakis said "we are saddened by the news that Fernando has decided to hang up his boots and bring an end to what has been an exceptional and illustrious career. Fernando has achieved a tremendous amount of success with the Club and he was the best player in the Victorian Premier League for many years. However, it was his humanity and warmth with the South Melbourne family and football fraternity that endeared him to so many. He wore the South shirt with great pride and distinction. He knocked back ludicrous offers to remain loyal to the Club which exemplifies what a true club man he is. Thank you Fernando".

Fernando departs the Club as a player having played 174 League matches, scoring 53 goals in the process. Across all competitions, he played 182 games and scored 62 goals. Furthermore, he leaves as a Championship winning player, and as a player that all supporters have long admired for his skill and flair and most importantly, his loyalty and love for the Club.

Fernando De Moraes

DOB: 21 January 1980
SMFC Statistics

Signed: Friday 18 March 2005
Debut: Sunday 10 April 2005 (v Green Gully at Green Gully Reserve, 0-1)
First Goal: Sunday 5 June 2005 (v Frankston Pines at Lakeside Stadium, 3-1)
50th Goal (All Comps): Friday 25 February 2011 (v Springvale White Eagles at White Eagles Stadium, 6-4)
50th Goal (VPL): Sunday 3 April 2011 (v St Albans Saints at Churchill Reserve, 2-0)
Matches/Goals (VPL only): 174 games, 53 goals
Matches/Goals (All Comps): 182 games, 62 goals

SMFC Honours:
- Played in the 2006 VPL Championship winning side
- Jimmy Rooney Medal Winner in the 2006 VPL Grand Final
- SMFC Golden Boot Winner 2006, 2008, 2010
- Played in the 2007, 2009, 2011 Hellenic Cup Championship winning sides
- VPL Gold Medal Winner (Player of the Year) 2010
- Theo Marmaras Medalist (SMFC Player of the Year) 2010

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