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It's all about the medals for Lopes

Rovers star Roberto has only one target in showdown with Dundalk

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Roberto Lopes is looking forward to Sunday’s FAI Cup final

Roberto Lopes is looking forward to Sunday’s FAI Cup final

Roberto Lopes is looking forward to Sunday’s FAI Cup final

A senior international debut at the age of 27 was an unexpected bonus for Roberto Lopes.

But despite that honour of playing for Cape Verde Islands earlier this month (the Dubliner qualified through the parentage rule), Lopes maintains that his career can only be considered a success when he wins a trophy.

Clearly, he hopes that happens this weekend when his Shamrock Rovers side face Dundalk in the FAI Cup final, the final game of his third season with the Hoops and his ninth in the league overall.

"It's all about medals," Lopes told The Herald this week.

"I have developed as a player and we have grown as a team but you don't want to be remembered just for being a good lad in a good team. You want to win things, be known as a winner and have something to show for it when your career is over.

"And Sunday is a chance for us. This is my ninth season in the league but my first Cup final so it's taken me a long time to get here and I have to make the most of it, win the game and take the trophy home to Rovers."

Lopes picked up a pile of silverware in his last season as a schoolboy but has been starved of honours since he joined the senior ranks.

"Yeah, in my last year with Belvedere we did really well, we won the league, the cup and the all-Ireland so that was a great experience.

"We had a decent side then, Keith Buckley, Chris Forrester, Kevin Feely, Craig Sexton - decent players," he says.

"I've no medals from senior football, apart from the Leinster Senior Cup at Bohs, which isn't seen as a big trophy but it meant a lot to me as it was my first medal in men's football. But you want to win the main ones."

Lopes has managed to win international honours, though not with Ireland.

Qualifiers

Back in 2011 he was part of the Irish U19 side which qualified for the European Championship finals under Paul Doolin. Lopes appeared in one of the qualifiers in the same side as Matt Doherty, John Egan and Jeff Hendrick, but that's as far as his Ireland career went.

Cape Verde Islands knew he was eligible through his dad. Lopes went through the FIFA process of declaring for them and earlier this month he lined out for them twice, first in a full international friendly, against Togo, and also in a behind-closed-doors game against Marseille.

"Dimitri Payet played, he was alright," laughs Lopes.

"They had their full squad apart from two who were away on international duty. They were missing Steve Mandanda and Kevin Strootman and Andre Villas Boas was manager. He shook my hand after, which was nice.

"It was mad, as I remember seeing him on the sideline at Stamford Bridge and in our league you never think you'll mix with people like that."

Duolingo, the language-learning website, is now helping Lopes work on his Portuguese language skills so he can engage more when he's called up again.

"I don't know if I'll get an actual cap, I didn't get bogged down in stuff like that, I was just focused on the games. I got to keep my jersey so that was the main thing for me and my family are buzzing. Hopefully I get the nod again."

And he hopes he has a Cup medal in the back by the time that happens.

"We know what Dundalk's strengths are, we know what they are really good at and it's about stopping that on the day.

"We have played well against them at times, had some off daysl, so we need everyone on their game. With the players we have if we get chances we can hurt them. It's a big ask but we can do it."


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