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The scene was St James’ Park, home of Newcastle United, the footballing theatre of the North-East of England.

And the exciting young winger entered from stage left to play a starring role.

Picking up the ball out wide, he cut purposefully inside, looked up, and curled an absolute beauty into the top corner of the net.

It was the sort of goal Wolves fans have become far more accustomed to in recent years than they were at the time, and one which would certainly grace Friday night’s Premier League assignment with the Toon Army on Tyneside.

The player in question was Eusebio Bancessi, and the date, September 15th, 2014.  And the game, an Under-21 fixture being played at the Magpies’ iconic stadium.

At the time Bancessi had just turned 19, had already been an unused substitute for Wolves first team on three occasions, and had the world at his silky-skilled feet.

Full of tricks, already possessing a powerful physique belying his tender years, and with an eye for goal as shown by that sumptuous strike at St James’s, the potential seemed limitless. 

Sadly however, that would prove as good as it got for the quietly spoken Bancessi.

His is a story which is both complex and often challenging, touched by poverty during childhood and, in more recent years, personal tragedy.

Football though, has always been a release.

The desire to play, to entertain, is still just as strong now as Bancessi, at 26, and most recently with FC Rapperswil-Jona in Switzerland, looks to find another club this summer.

Football is a constant. And at times, a comfort as well.

Bancessi was born in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, and his life was affected by deprivation in its early years.

His father worked, but then fell ill and became paralysed, and so his mother was reduced to selling household items to help make ends meet.

Some days they wouldn’t eat until 3pm, without ever being completely sure where the next meal was coming from.

“It was tough, and sometimes we wouldn’t know if we were going to eat until the next day,” Bancessi, currently based in Lisbon, recalls.

“My family were poor, and sometimes we didn’t have enough.

“But it also gave me a motivation to play football, something I could do to try and make a better life.

“I was born with football – I think my quality in football is that no one taught me to play football, I just played.

“Yes, I have had managers who have helped me and taught me to do certain things but the skills and quality I have is what I was born with.”

That combination of natural talent and desire to better himself to support his family prompted Bancessi to join other young players in heading across to Portugal and the academy at Sporting.

Whilst in the junior ranks with the Lions, he would play alongside a certain Daniel Podence, before making the switch to another of Portugal’s Tres Grandes, and the youth system at Benfica.

And then, at 17, making a journey that not many had made previously, but a multitude have since, in swapping the Iberian Peninsula for sunny old Wolverhampton.

This particular Eusebio, a namesake of the great Portuguese great, was actually ahead of his time!

Having counted Portugal as his home since moving from Africa, this was the first big step, to set out on his own and try and forge a career.

His grasp of English now is more than passable but back in 2013, it was not.  And that made life difficult.

“I call Wolves my first experience outside of home and when I first arrived it was difficult,” Bancessi recalls.

“Difficult because I couldn’t really say any words in English, and so inside the dressing room I was quiet.

“I was there on my own, and many people helped me, but it was tough at first.”

There were English lessons, with Lorna Gatenby, retired Head of Languages at S. Peter’s School, as he aimed to bridge the communications gap.

On the pitch however, within youth football, Bancessi flourished.

The now customary YouTube showreel shows him dancing past opponents, beating them for fun, using his power and pace, shining at Under-21 level.

There was that sensational strike at Newcastle, a hat trick at home to Tottenham, many more goals, highlights and positive moments.

But that first team chance never materialised.

Those flair-fuelled wingers, with all the tricks up their sleeves, are often the ones who managers need the most convincing to trust, especially during their formative years.

And Head Coach Kenny Jackett, while impressed with Bancessi during his first season, and acknowledging he got mighty close to giving him his bow, also had an embarrassment of riches in the wide positions via Bakary Sako, James Henry and Michael Jacobs.

Wolves were also blazing a trail in racking up the records during their League One title triumph, and there was no let-up, no experimenting with tactics or personnel, right to the 103-point end.

“Kenny Jackett is a good guy and I like him but I just wish I had an opportunity,” says Bancessi.

“There was one game, my first on the bench at Molineux (against Peterborough), when we were winning 2-0, and I really thought I would get on.

“I just felt that was the time, to get some minutes, to get my chance at home to show the fans what I could do and what I had been doing in training.

“I so wanted it to happen but it didn’t, I just needed the manager to put me on the pitch but even now I have to respect his decision.”

As Wolves headed into the Championship Bancessi’s chances seemed to fade, and he went on loan to Cheltenham, contributing an assist in the first of four appearances before returning to Molineux.

Later there would be another loan spell, closer to home in non-league with AFC Telford, but in the summer of 2016, after three years at Molineux, Bancessi was released.

There is a certain irony in that timeline given that Fosun’s arrival as new owners was imminent and the Portuguese influx – including fellow former ‘Benficans’ Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro – came through the door just as Bancessi headed for the exit.

And there are so many ‘what ifs’ when it comes to Bancessi and Wolves.

Perhaps most pertinently, does he think things could have been different had he known more English?

“Definitely,” he replies.

“If I would have spoken English then like I do now it would have been easier because I would have been able to communicate with managers so much better.

“Also, I wasn’t working very closely with my agent and I think if that relationship had been better, he would have been able to step in and help me more.

“Maybe we could have then found out what I needed to do better to get a first team chance, what I needed to do even just to move from the Under-21s dressing room up to the first team.

“When I was told I was being released, I had no idea what was happening and no idea what to do next.

“And who knows? Had I been able to stay with more players coming in from Portugal and things changing at Wolves maybe I would have had more of a chance.”

Bancessi is not bitter about his lack of first team action during his time at Wolves. Far from it.

Frustrated, perhaps. Disappointed. Mainly because he really believes he could have been a success.

But grateful, both for the experience and the opportunity.

“I will always appreciate the time I had at Wolves,” he explains.

“Wolves was a big step for me and made me improve a lot in my football.

“I was wanting to play in England and Wolves gave me a chance to be there and it was a brilliant time even if I didn’t quite make the first team.”

That is shown by the long list reeled out by Bancessi of those who tried to help him make that step-up as he settled in at Molineux.

On the playing side he counts Ibrahim Keita as his ‘brother’, a player who had also arrived at Wolves from outside – in his case France – and did everything he could to help him acclimatise.

“Ibrahim was the main one to help me, he did so much and we spent a lot of time together inside and outside of training,” says Bancessi.

“We were similar in that we both got close to the first team, but never quite got that chance, but we will always remain close in life – he is my brother.”

There was also David Moli and Dominic Iorfa from the then youth ranks and, at first team level, namechecks for Sako, Nouha Dicko, Danny Batth, Dave Edwards, Kevin McDonald and George Elokobi.

“George was amazing,” Bancessi adds.

“He was someone who always looked after me.

“I remember the first time I went into first team training and he was marking me.

“I did well and was trying my skills and if I went past him he would push me or if Kenny Jackett whistled for a foul, he would get angry.

“But I think George saw my quality and appreciated what I was trying to do and from then he really helped me.

“He treated me like a son, and I called him Dad, all the way through.”

And the staff?

Bancessi remembers the kindness of then Technical Recruitment Officer Chris Badlan, now Head of Recruitment at Coventry, as well as academy personnel at the time such as Nick Loftus and Jenny Rice.

Bob Pillinger, an academy driver, would also go out of his way to help while he is also indebted to David and Elaine, the Castlecroft couple who housed him in digs whom he describes as ‘special people’.

The Under-21s coach of the time was Steve Weaver, now Head of Football Development with Norwich City.

“Steve was a special coach for me at that time because he saw I had come from abroad and was struggling with my English and communication,” Bancessi explains.

“He took extra time to make sure I understood things – we used Ibrahim as a translator – and he supported me and made me feel comfortable in training.

“He gave me the confidence to play but also had the patience to speak with me and get his messages across.”

The Bancessi story so far isn’t just about football however, and his efforts to forge a career in the game have been affected, completely understandably, by personal tragedy.

In 2015, whilst still at Wolves, he lost his father, a desperately painful situation in any circumstance but perhaps even more so when thousands of miles from home and without the support network of having family in close proximity.

Then, in 2017, Bancessi’s 11-month old daughter Leila suddenly passed away, and on this occasion the grief would eventually become overwhelming.

And so football – by this time he was playing for Olimpia Grudziądz in Poland having initially moved to Pogon Siedlce – had to take a back seat.

“In these years I lost two people who were so important to me in my life and it made me go down in my football,” Bancessi explains.

“It was such a difficult time after losing Leila, I couldn’t sleep at night and would get to training and try and work but was just too tired.

“I decided to stop playing for a year to recover and it was after that I came back and played in Switzerland.

“I feel better now, obviously I will never forget what happened and Leila is my angel but I feel a lot better than I was.

“It has been very difficult but you have to try and move forward, you cannot stay in that same place because you have to try and continue and earn a living to pay bills and look after your family.

“In football, I finished in Switzerland a month ago and am waiting for the transfer window to open and hopefully I can find a new club and a new challenge.

“I think you can see from the videos of me since leaving Wolves, I am still the same Eusebio, the same player, I feel I have the quality and just need to prove it.

“To do that I just need someone in football to believe in me again and to give me an opportunity.

“I just want to get back in somewhere and show people I can do it.”

So Bancessi was ‘born with football’, and football has helped heal, but so too has family.

He has another daughter – three-year-old Leah – with his former partner, whilst every Christmas he also returns home to see loved ones in Guinea-Bissau, where he also gives something back.

On every Christmas Eve, Bancessi heads to a local children’s home, to spend time with the young residents and donate food supplies, always remembering his own humble and often meagre beginnings.

“It isn’t my charity, but when I go home to spend time with my family at Christmas I always try and do a little bit to help,” he reveals.

“I don’t have much, but what I have I try to help by giving them food and spending time there on December 24th.

“I don’t know the full circumstances of the children but they are there together without their families, and this place is now their family.

“And it is very difficult for people back home.

“I know a lot of people in Europe are having challenging times, but I think a lot of the time here they can get help and they can get food, but I feel that is more difficult in Africa.

“I remember what it was like for me growing up, and I think it is important to help people when we can, and that is something I will always want to carry on with.”

So much has happened to Bancessi in his 26 years so far, and who knows just how things could have worked out differently at Wolves had circumstances played out differently or the hand of footballing fate been that little bit kinder.

He still follows the team’s fortunes, is pleased to see so many Portuguese players thriving, and one day would love to return back to Wolverhampton to take in a game.

For now, though, his focus is firmly forward, on what lies ahead. On trying to land a new club, on rebuilding his career.

And trying to continue producing the sort of quality that he once did at St James’ Park.