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'I was on the Duolingo app during lockdown' - the Shamrock Rovers star from Crumlin who plays for Cape Verde

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Roberto Lopes of Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Roberto Lopes of Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Roberto Lopes of Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Roberto Lopes was able to use lockdown to make improvements that might enhance his international career.

The Shamrock Rovers defender is looking to establish himself as a regular with the Cape Verde Islands, with the Dubliner receiving an unexpected call to make his debut last October.

He qualifies through his father, and was unable to build on his friendly appearance because the full paperwork needed to be processed to make him eligible.

The 28-year-old is now intent on featuring in their African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, but one major thing he learned from his maiden meeting with his new teammates was that he needed to brush up on his Portuguese.

There were no excuses during the enforced break from work.

"It was tough probably the first day or two because I felt like nobody spoke English. But, as the training days went on, I ended up picking up a few words and, the more you try, the more you get helped," said Lopes yesterday, speaking at the launch of the WatchLOI streaming service.

"A few of the lads did speak English, my roommate spoke English and a few of the coaches spoke English so I probably made it a bigger deal in my head before I went over, but it wasn't that bad.

"I was actually eager to learn the language when I went home. That's what I've been doing during the lockdown, little bits.

"I am on the Duolingo app and you think you're flying and then someone says something to you or you hear it on the radio and you're like 'I haven't a clue what he's saying' so I still need a bit more practice on the ear, but it's coming along."

Lopes has a busy time of it ahead, with the picture of the title race changed by the cutting of the season in half.

Five wins from five including a dramatic win over rivals Dundalk represented a good start. Now it's more a case that they are three points clear with 13 games remaining.

The loss of Greg Bolger to a serious injury at the weekend almost brought home the reality that big games are around the corner and any slip-ups have the potential to be costly.

"I'm trying to focus on one game at the moment and that's how I've looked at it. I'm not trying to say this has to be done as quick as we can or as fast as we can," said Lopes.

"It's Finn Harps for us on the first day of the season (Saturday week) and we have to get three points on the board and start again, build momentum and pick up as many points as we can.

"The momentum has been halted so it's important to hit the ground running and be on it from the first whistle."

Meanwhile, Shelbourne have confirmed the signing of midfielder Brian McManus after his return home from Preston.

The 18-year-old played his schoolboy football with St Kevin's Boys and went to England with a lofty reputation.

"Brian is a fantastic addition," said Shels boss Ian Morris. "He can play in midfield and at full back. Brian has a big engine and an excellent range of passing."


Your guide to streaming LOI matches


How do I stream the games?

Go to the watchloi.ie website, set up an account and buy one of the passes available. Fixtures can be watched on PC, Laptop, Apple (iPhone, iPad) and Android devices.

How much does it cost?

A domestic pass (island of Ireland) for the remainder of the 2020 league season and selected FAI Cup matches costs €55 and an overseas pass costs €69. Individual matches are available at €5 each.

How many matches does it cover?

The domestic pass includes 55+ games with the overseas pass covering 65+ fixtures. That difference is explained by the fact that Eir Sport are retaining exclusive domestic rights for their chosen games but those matches will be available on the rest of the world package.

Will fixtures clash?

Games are staggered at different kick-off times for the first six weeks after the restart and the plan is to continue with this to the end of the campaign if it’s working, although there may be clashes at the climax for obvious reasons of integrity. Season pass holders will also be able to watch any games on playback if they miss them live.

Who is providing the service?

This is a partnership with RTE through the same platform that hosts GAAGO so the national broadcaster will be sending a commentator and one or two cameras to each fixture. They will still be showing a number of matches on TV and giving them the full production treatment.

If I live in Ireland and I travel abroad, can I access my account?

Yes.

I am a season ticket holder for my club, do I have to pay?

You should contact your club about this if you haven’t heard from them already. Clubs are buying this service for their season ticket holders.

Irish Independent