Scout’s Corner : Michael Simões Domingues (Mika)
Scouting Network identifies young players under the age of 21 who have exceptional talent and could be one of the leading players of the future. This month GoaldenTimes profiles Michael Domingoes
Born: 08 March, 1991
Contracted till: 2016 to Benfica
Termination Fee: 20.0 m €
They say that goalkeepers mature with time and a bright start has often led to huge expectations and subsequent downfall of goalkeepers. The truly greats though signal their entrance – a 17 year old Gianluigi Buffon singlehandedly stopped the marauding Scudetto winners, Milan, to a 0-0 and Iker Casillas made his debut as a 17 year old and was Madrid’s #1 by next year. Michael Simões Domingues or Mika has put his markers early on in his career and in a season when a year older David de Gea was sold for 20m, Mika has taken strong strides to be a future #1 of Portugal.
Born in Yverden, Switzerland, Mika joined Sporting Clube de Pombal – a branch of the great Sporting Clube de Portugal, as a 10 year old. After 4 years there, he shifted to União de Leiria, a middle rung team, which managed to get itself relegated in 2007-08 but was promoted the very next year. Mika though was in the youth ranks and would only debut for Leiria in 2009-10 in a league match against Guimarães when the #1 goalkeeper got the marching orders. In those 30 minutes that he came in, Mika would concede a goal from a penalty but would make some brilliant saves to keep the score down to that single goal. His next opportunity would only come in the following season in a tough away match to one of the powerhouses of Portuguese SuperLiga – Sporting Lisbon. This time Mika kept a clean slate and came to the notice of the scouts. In two other matches, he would concede 6 goals, but the spark of the potential, that he had, was seen.
That spark though would become a raging fire in the FIFA U-20 World Cup held in Columbia in August 2011. Portugal reached the finals of the tournament only to lose to their Brazilian counterparts, but it was Mika who stole the show by not conceding his first goal till he came up against the hat-trick hero Oscar in the finals. That made it 575 minutes on the trot. It broke the previous record of going unbeaten for the longest duration in the U20 World Cup. To put it into perspective, the corresponding record in the FIFA World Cup is held by Walter Zenga of Italy and that is 518 minutes. Mika’s heroics just didn’t stay confined to the regular playing time. He saved 3 Argentine U20 penalties in a shootout in the quarterfinal to take Portugal U20s to the semis. He was awarded the Golden Glove for the stellar show throughout the tournament.
Europe’s biggest clubs came calling for Mika but he chose to join Benfica and with Artur as the #1 and Eduardo, the former Portuguese #1, Mika will have to fight for opportunities. At 20, he has age on his side and has already progressed to being the #1 in the Portuguese U21 team. Keep your eyes on the Estádio da Luz, for the next big European goalkeeper may just come from there.