With 38 goals to his name, Partizan forward Ricardo Gomes finished last season as the league`s top goalscorer, cancelling out 22-year old record set by Mateja Kezman who scored 35 goals in one season.
30-year old Cape Verdean spoke to Partizan website on successful season behind him and upcoming summer roster changes.
“I feel good although this is the toughest part of the year for every player. But, pre-season is very important as the backbone of early domestic and European challenges and we have to get ready for it. Training without ball at this stage is not a problem, it happens every year and I understand it`s something inevitable when you are a professional athlete.
“Trust me, it such a pleasure to be here, with Partizan. This club is my home”, said Ricardo.
You had personal success last season but it hurts everyone to see Partizan win no trophies in otherwise great year in three competitions.
“I can`t explain what happened as it`s not logical for a team to win 98 points and not to win the title. I can`t say we deserved it as we didn`t win it. In my opinion, team who wins the title is the one who deserved it. But, it`s hard to grasp everything that happened after such a long season, us failing to cross the line first but that`s football game I guess. We were focused most of the year but we failed to win the title at the end and that`s hard to accept. I found it hard and all my teammates too, I`m sure of it. Something changed in the second part of the season. I think we had more connection before and lost it later on along with power and mutual chemistry, something we had as an advantage in the first part of the season. We were united from the day one, ready to go all the way together but something changed after the winter break. At this point, I wouldn`t be able to tell you what happened”.
Long European competition journey to Azores took its toll and influenced the Eternal derby game that followed.
“Derby is always more than just three points, it`s about emotions and confidence boost if you win and it`s all going downhill when you lose. That`s all normal and expected but we didn`t react well and that`s our big mistake. We had to be ready for everything, for every possible situation. One defeat or draw should not have an influence on us; we had to change our mentality and try to move on. We were playing twice a week and we had no time to cry over the spilt milk. League doesn`t stop when you lose a game and we had to simply get over it but we didn`t. That`s our great fault”.
In your second spell with the club, you beat Mateja Kezman`s goalscoring record set 22 years ago.
“I`m not going to lie, I`m really happy for the goals scored and stats overall. It did a lot for me but it wasn`t enough for the team and it really bothers me. Second part of the season is the dark side to our individual success. To be honest, I still don`t feel I achieved something great, due to lack of trophies and short break we had after the season. We got back to training after three weeks and I don`t feel like we stopped playing at all. Of course, I`m proud of these numbers and I set the record thanks to my teammates and boss Stanojevic”.
Targets for the new season?
“I never have numbers in my head. I work hard on each training session and game, trying to score as much goals as possible. That`s a gift from God and I`m grateful on it but I don`t insist on numbers”.
What you miss in your second spell with Partizan is a derby goal.
“That`s right. I didn`t score a derby goal last season and it`s in my head. I know this game means a lot to the fans, it means a lot to us too, and the feeling when you win it or you score a goal is so nice. I`ll try to do my best to fix my derby record next season”.
Enter new season and there`s a lot of changes. Partizan appointed new coach and there`s a great number of departures too. Ricardo says it natural process.
“It`s not easy when you have such changes. I work with boss Stanojevic for one year, some boys for two years but we have to believe in new coaching team, to give them time to introduce us to new system. We have quality but we have to adapt fast as there`s not much time.But, I believe we can be successful”.
Off the pitch, Ricardo mostly spends time with his teammates Natcho and Menig.
“Natcho is not just the player who makes the difference. Our relation off the pitch is special as we are family friends. We understood each other on the pitch straight away; I know each ball he receives will get to me in no time. Of course, things can change in a matter of days, one of us can depart but we have to move on and adapt. Menig is my friend and roommate and I expect a lot from him next season. He was good last season but I`m convinced it`s only a fraction of what he can do for us. He made a big change moving to a different league and environment and needed some time to adapt in Serbia. I do everything possible to ease things up for him, we talk often and our friendship is completely honest – we tell each other all the good and bad things as they come”.
Each new season is all about wins and trophies.
“I can only promise great battle from everyone in the team. Five years without a title is a long time but Partizan is a club able to go over the limits to change this. I believe we will form good group with new signings and players back from international duty, we`ll change the images from the past”.