From Football to Catering: The Life of the Vidigal Clan in Elvas

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Peto, Leto, Luis, Tony and Jorge. Between 1986 and 2007, fans saw the Vidigal clan pass through the Portuguese Football League First Division. Five siblings in the league, something that probably no one in world football has heard of. After the end of their career, the Elvas were once again the safe haven of this unique family on the national stage.

Vidigals mourned the 2019 death of Beto, aged 55. The midfielder was the first to open the doors of the main division, in the service of O Elvas, in 1986. Leto Belenenses, Santa Clara (52 years old) and Luis were followed by Sporting and Estrella da Amadora (49), whose football-related contact, Tony Varzim ( 47) and Jorge for Sporting and Beira Mar (44), a duo focused entirely on the Alentejo catering business.

Jorge Vidigal, the former player who contributed to Sporting’s last double – exactly 20 years ago – guides us in this after Adeus.

“My brothers and I have many businesses here in Elvas, and many of the investments we have made, be it homes, restaurants, cafes, etc. Tony and I, more specifically, are currently focusing on two spaces we are exploring: the ARPI (Association of Pensioners, Pensioners and Seniors Association) bar and Monte da Graça Restaurant », he begins by explaining, when More.

While Jorge works daily at the Elvas Association of Pensioners, Pensioners and Seniors Association, Tony takes care of the restaurant on Monte de Graça, a farm that Luis Vidigal has acquired and turned into a rustic tourist space.

“He took over the ARPI bar in 2019. It only closes on Mondays, and on other days it’s open from 9:30 AM to 12:00 AM. I try not to be there all the time, but it’s hard to avoid, because we have clients who go there just to be with me. I spend the necessary time behind the table and always try to hang out with people for a while”, confirms the former right-back.

Jorge Vidigal used to live with elderly people who frequented the ARPI facilities, but he ensured that one of the brothers’ goals was specifically to attract another type of audience.

“Tony and I are responsible for the bar which has its own space and also serves meals, including Angolan food. Then next door is the members room, where old people can play cards, dominoes, etc. Upstairs there is a large event room. In the morning we have old people at the bar drinking their coffee or a glass of wine, but in the afternoon and evening the young people, aged 20-40, appear for a different socialization.”

The restaurant in Monte da Graça appeared in turn to fill a gap in space. “Monte da Graça was an investment by Luis and this is huge. It has several salons and our family used one of them for meetings. Since there was no restaurant on the farm, guests were limited to staying and having breakfast. So, Tony and I suggested opening a restaurant in that hall and it’s going well. This is a magical space, a paradise,” Jorge points out.

Luis Vidigal was the academy’s technical coordinator between 2011 and 2013, and returned to the club between 2018 and 2019 as coaching director. He is currently commented on SportTV. Leto has a solid career as a coach, having been without a club since January, when he left Moreirense.

Toni and Jorge, for now, are staying away from football. But the essential ingredient for a happy life, family, is always present in Elvas, a meeting point for all family members.

“Elvas is a city for football, but in addition to the weak industry at this time, football has also weakened in Alentejo. However, we chose to stay here. There are a lot of people who like to show off, but we really like to be in our corner. Eating and drinking And socializing easily and being with our family and friends, that is the most important thing in life.”

Recently, in connection with the tribute that the municipality of Elvas gave to Batalino – one of the Elvens who joined the national team in 1949 – a request circulated on social media for the same recognition of the other names that raised the city’s name through football. The Vidigal brothers, of course, came out on top.

“I saw this, I was happy and grateful to post, but if you notice we don’t even comment on these kinds of things. We were never a family of fame and glamor. We are a humble working family, not looking for recognition. Honestly, I think there has never been a family like ours and I think the world will never have five siblings playing in the First Division again, because now there are fewer children (laughs). That should be praised more, but that’s it. We are not worried”, confirms Jorge Vidigal.

From Elvas to Sporting double, passing through Estoril

Luis Vidigal was the brother who achieved more fame in the world of football, but Jorge has a memorial room that rivals that of the older brother. The right-back played an active role in Sporting’s latest double, in 2002, after training at O ​​Elvas and after two good seasons at Estoril.

“At Elvas I got promoted from 3rd class to 2nd B, at that time Sporting became interested in me. I was still in Estoril, then I had a great season with the Sporting B team, and in the second I played with the main team. We were champions and won the Portuguese Cup,” he says.

Jorge Vidigal played two first-team matches, one in each competition, enough to put his name on the list of winners.

“At that time, Sporting had great teams, both A and B. The main team had stars like João Pinto, Sá Pinto, Pedro Barbosa, Jardel, André Cruz and César Prates. Then came B players like me, Quaresma, Hugo Viana, Custódio, Beto. Those were great times.”

The defender of Sporting de Laszlo Boloni left after the club’s last double was confirmed on May 12, 2002, by winning the Portuguese Cup against Lixuez (1-0). This was followed by a brief return to O Elvas and three seasons at Olhanense. “The weather in Olhao was also good. Paulo Sergio, who was my colleague in Estoril, invited me to go there and we were the champions of Division II B in the first year (2004), to secure promotion to League Two”, he recalls.

“Then I spent two years in Beira Mar, the first in the league. I also passed through União da Madeira and finished my career in Angola at Recreativo de Caalá. In Recreativo’s first match, we won 1-0 and I scored a free kick goal. We finished Girabola 2010 with the same Interclube points, but they were champions, and we also reached the cup final. In 2011, I was still playing for the Angolan national team, another moment that I will never forget”, ensures Jorge Vidigal.

In general, the side considers that the track as a player had more pluses than minuses.

“I think my career has been good. I know it could have been a lot better, but I don’t know who was wrong, if it was my fault or someone else’s. I am happy for what I did and very grateful for my career.”

Jorge Vidigal finished his boots in 2012, ending the Five Brothers’ show on the pitch. A decade later, Andre Vidigal (son of the late Peto) is the new generation’s biggest hope. Extreme currently represents the Navy.

“Out of the 13 children of Mrs Deolinda Vidigal and Mr Vitor Vidigal, five of them played football and made it to the First Division. Now, we have Thiago (32), the son of Beto, who played with O Elvas and Campomayorense. He was just the provincial champion for Aronches and Benfica. Andre (23 years old), Tiago’s younger brother, is in Maritimo and is going through a very good phase in his career. »

On the other hand, the hero of this film after farewell focuses entirely on catering: “After completing my career, I was still at Recreativo de Cala as athletic director and coach. I returned to Portugal at the age of 37, I still coach young people, I even opened my own school, organized summer camps, but now I focus on the bar and the restaurant. ”

“Last year I’m still coaching the Elvense kids, but it’s getting very complicated with my schedule. Besides, it’s more to help, we don’t get anything. So, at this time I’m just working, and whenever I can, to kill a ball craving Football, I will play in the tournament of the old guard in Badajoz”, concludes Jorge Vidigal, enjoying life.

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