Back to School: Diogo Dalot
We are asking the Manchester United players to relive their time at school and reveal more about their character as it formed during their spell in education.
Defender Diogo Dalot detailed which other sport he excelled in as a pupil back in Portugal, the support he received from staff and family to pass his exams, and his language skills.
How would you describe your time at school?
I think it was good. To be fair, I think I was a good student as I could manage both things - football and school - and I’m really proud of what I achieved in school. I think it was a good time as well.
Was it difficult balancing football with your studies?
Yeah, at the beginning, it was a little difficult. You know, you’re a kid and you just dream about being a football player. Sometimes, you forgot that school is more important, at times, when you were younger. I think school needs to be your priority until when you are getting more professional and moving into professional football. I think you then need to choose between one or two things but you can still manage both. Still now, I can think about doing stuff and preparing some stuff for the end of my career, when it is over. Back in the day, I think you just sometimes get lost a little bit but then comes the parents’ job to put you back into line. My parents did an amazing job and helped me make my priorities first and I think I did a good job in that part.
Oh, for every football player, I think Physical Education was the best one but, you know, sometimes it can get boring in Maths or Chemistry. I guess you just need to pass through that. I think I was an okay student and a good one for a guy that had two or three classes per week because of travelling and playing away games and tournaments, and the national team. I think I could manage that.
And were there any you really disliked?
You know that Maths can be boring sometimes and difficult as well. But, like I said, I tried to get the good things out of each subject. But, when you start just thinking about football, everything seems boring at school, so I needed to do well.
What about languages? You speak good English…
I had English classes and Spanish as well. In my time, you had to choose between German, French and Spanish and the whole class chose Spanish because English is compulsory. Of course, we had Portuguese, plus Spanish and English. I speak fluent Spanish.
To be honest, I remember a lot of them, all my teachers and I think now that teachers are a big part in our development of our lives. I think, straight after our parents and our family, that teachers are the most important people in our lives until a certain time when you start thinking by yourself and making your own decisions. I had amazing teachers who understood well that my schedule was a little bit tight. The schools were always flexible and made a schedule for me but, like I said, I thank them for all the support they gave me in being a big part of my development.
So how much juggling did you have to do?
It was difficult. When you are out for, I don’t know, 16 days, in a tournament and you come back and you’ve lost so many classes and need to catch the others up as they are a little bit further on than you. The exam will be the same for everyone. It’s not going to be a different exam for me. So I needed to catch up. I had some private classes. For example, just before a game, back in the day, I was in Braga in my home town and I had a game day on the Saturday. So I went to a private class at 8am and did an hour and half there and then went to Porto, played the game and then came back to study for the whole afternoon, just to be ready for the exam on the Monday or Tuesday. It was a difficult time but I had the help of the teachers and, most of all, from my parents. Yes, the exam went well. I always had good marks!
Do you have any memories of playing for the school football team? Were you captain or star player?
We had a couple of tournaments. I don’t know but we called it the students association and they organised some tournaments in school. I was in the fifth grade and we played against the ninth grade and 10th grade but, of course, my class was the best. My help was good for them! We won some tournaments but it was always friendly. We had time to play football and enjoy it with our friends. I think it was just about playing and having fun.
We actually needed to play three or four sports during the year. We had volleyball, basketball, football of course. But then I particularly liked badminton. I was champion five times in a row. I was pretty good at badminton!
Do you still keep in touch with any friends from school?
Yes, I have two at my house for these last two weeks, two good friends. Hopefully, I’ll get through life until the end with them. I make contact every month with old friends and make sure, every week, I do dinner with the most people I can get over. We enjoy that time. We just remember the old times and we keep in touch.
What advice would you give to a current school pupil about becoming a professional footballer?
Like I said, I think, for me, it’s the time you need to choose between school or football, when you start getting into professional football. Until then, school is your priority because you don’t know what is going to happen. Even when you choose, you need a back-up. You need the passion you had in the past to build that and, like I said, make your schoolwork your priority. Listen to your teachers and listen to your parents. Study a lot and then be happy for the future.
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