Just like the title says, Ruben Neves is one of the best midfielders in the world, despite not being known to everybody. The classy midfielder is known for his passing skills, free kick abilities, vision, astute positioning, and defensive capabilities, he is one of the best and most acclaimed midfielders in the English Premier League but also one of the most underrated ones... And obviously one of the most important players in the Portugal’s national team. Today, let us talk about a little bit about him, he is the newest entry in the “Headband series,” and also this would be my first time and hopefully not the last time I write for this series, so let us begin!
Ruben Diogo da Silva Neves, or just Ruben Neves, was born in Mozelos, Portugal on 13th March 1997. He was part of a middle-class family and grew with her younger sister, Vanessa Neves. His father’s name is José Neves but his mother’s name is currently unknown. He has been a Porto FC’s fan since he was a little kid and his family remember him for spending most of his time playing football alone or with his childhood friends. Because of his parents worked in a sporting goods retail business, it was easy for him having every new FC Porto’s jersey and a soccer ball.
He always loved football. He started his footballing career in 2005 when he joined FC Porto youth team when he was just 8 years old. But even before joining Porto, he played for the Mozelos’ local football team named Lusitania FC. He never abandoned his dream to play for Porto and finally when he was 8 years old, he was able to join Porto youth team. He later was loaned to Padroense FC for 1 year to play for the under-sixteen squad.
When he was 17 years old, he was automatically added to FC Porto’s first team because of his amazing footballing capabilities and after debuting for them on 15th August 2014, he started breaking records, some of his records are:
- Youngest FC Porto’s player to score in Primera Liga
- Youngest Portuguese player to play in the Champions League (17 years, 6 month and 9 days old).
- Youngest player ever to captain his team in the Champions League (18 years, 221 days old).
- Youngest FC Porto player to reach fifty matches played (18 years and 267 days old).
In his debut against Marítimo, he also scored for his side. He became one of the few players to score in his debut.
While playing for Porto, he became a fan favorite fast and one of FC Porto most important players despite being so young. An article on UEFA’s website described him as a defensive midfielder who shows great maturity with an amazing passing ability and somebody who is not afraid to leave his position and go forward. He is sometimes compared to his compatriot Joao Moutinho, one of the greatest midfielders Portugal ever produced.
On 8th July 2017, he signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers in a controversial move because everybody was expecting him to join a bigger club and not an EFL Championship club, but he decided to join the English team to reunite him with Nuno Espirito Santo, a former FC Porto manager. In his first season with the Wolves, he won the EFL Championship and also won a hat trick of individual awards; Player of the Season Award, Player’s Player of the Season award, and Goal of the Season award. He also won the Goal of the Year award that exact year.
Since his debut, he became Wolves’ most important midfielder and one of the best and most consistent midfielders in the league. He is well-known for his long-ranged goals, in fact; his six league goals in his first season were outside of the box… all of them. And on 25th September 2019, he captained Wolves for the first time after the absence of captain Conor Coady in a EFL Cup match against Reading.
After Coady’s departure to Everton in 2022, Neves was named full-time basis captain of Wolves, a decision widely acclaimed because fans consider him Wolves’ most important player.
What about his international career? Well, Ruben Neves represented Portugal for the first time at the 2014 European Under-17 Championship where they were able to reach the semi-finals. He captained this side and also was named one of the ten best players of the tournament.
On 2014, despite being only seventeen, Rui Jorge called him to play for the U-21 team and after this, on 10 November 2015 he was finally called to play for the Portugal senior team as a replacement for the injured Joao Moutinho.
Because of his exceptional performance for both Wolves and the Portugal national team, Fernando Santos called him to play for Portugal at the 2019 UEFA Nations League and later at the UEFA Euro 2020. Santos originally called him to play for Portugal at the 2018 World Cup, but he did not make the final squad. But finally, he was able to play at the 2022 World Cup.
Honestly, Ruben Neves is an amazing midfielder who could play for any team because his playing style could adapt to any playing system. I know I said that he is a little bit underrated, and that is because you usually hear about midfielders like Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes, N´Golo Kante, and more… You do not usually hear about Neves, but that is not something entirely bad, because the moment the world sees how amazing Neves is, everybody will be blown away.
And of course, he wears a headband. Because of his long hair, he sometimes needs to wear a headband to keep his hair in order. In some cases, he does not wear a headband but keeps his hair in a simple but classic ponytail but to be fair, he looks better with a headband.