NEWTON, Mass. (September 5, 2019) – On September 2nd, Valeo USA player Patrick Leal put pen to paper on his first-ever professional contract with Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon CP. The contract will run for five years and will initially see him play in Sporting’s youth ranks before joining up with the professional side.
Leal, sixteen years old from Newton, MA, first joined Valeo in 2013. After progressing through the ranks at Valeo USA, Leal spent a year with the New England Revolution before ultimately deciding to rejoin Valeo and attend the VIA in Lisbon. Leal adjusted quickly to his new surroundings at the VIA, and after a year he was on the radar of Sporting Lisbon who initially signed him to youth contract, allowing him to develop under their guidance. His progression from the youth contract to the professional contract in the span of a year is a testament to the hard work and commitment the young athlete has demonstrated since his arrival in Portugal in 2017.
“I had to sacrifice a lot to get this contract bit it was worth it and I’m looking forward to what is to come in the future.”, says Leal.
Sporting Lisbon is one of the most prestigious and decorated clubs in Portugal, having won over fifty trophies and never once being relegated from the first division since their inception in 1906. Their youth academy is world-renowned for kick-starting the careers of Balon d’Or winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo. In the 2016 European Championship Finals, ten out of the fourteen players in the Portuguese squad playing versus France had spent time at Sporting’s academy. At the 2018 World Cup, there were fourteen graduates of the Sporting Lisbon academy selected in squads for the tournament — surpassing the ten players selected from FC Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.