To start in the Champions League against Chelsea for a club the size of Porto is little more than a dream for most players.
However to start in the centre of the park at the tender age of 18 years and 6 months was a reality for youngster Rúben Neves, the emerging Porto prospect.
Deployed as a defensive midfielder by Julen Lopetegui, he looked very impressive in keeping the usually proficient Cesc Fàbregas quiet, as well as providing the assist for the winning goal.
It’s evident that Neves must be a player of huge quality and potential if Lopetegui has the confidence in him to keep a Chelsea midfield quiet.
A player who bypassed both the Porto Under-19 and Reserve squads (due to an injury to Mikel Agu) in order to join up with the main squad last season at the age of 17, Rúben Neves has made 26 appearances for Porto since July 2014.
To top it all off, Neves holds the record for the youngest Porto player ever to score in the Primeira Liga, the record for the youngest Portuguese player to ever appear in the Champions League, and the record for the youngest Portuguese player to feature at the European Under-21 competition.
His former manager – Luis Castro, the Porto B manager, had this to say about Neves:
“People talk about technical and tactical ability, but Rúben Neves is incredibly talented from the mental point of view. He plays with an extraordinary calmness; he knows what each game situation calls for. It makes no sense to talk about the continuing maturing process in the under-19 and B teams. When a player completes his development in a sustained manner it’s because he has already acquired this maturity.”
Drawing many a comparison to countryman and former team-mate – João Moutinho, Neves possesses an exquisite first touch, an excellent range in passing as well as a natural sense of both offensive and defensive positioning and a rare willingness to press the opposition when not in possession.
Although Neves is yet to make a senior international appearance for Portugal, expect him to feature there very soon, for both Porto and Portugal have a very bright player on their hands.