With exclusive insight from Everton boss Sean Dyche and the player’s former coach in Portugal, Adam Bate examines why so many are pleased for Beto after the hardworking striker ended his wait for a first Premier League goal. This could be just the start…
Friday 8 December 2023 12:35, UK
He arcs his run across the last line of defence to beat the offside trap and races away down the right. There is the hint of a stumble but he is strong, outmuscling Fabian Schar before finding the finish low under the body of the goalkeeper. Cue the celebrations.
Beto's stoppage-time goal for Everton in their 3-0 win over Newcastle was incidental to the result but it was everything for the player. This was a first Premier League goal for the £26m signing from Udinese, coming three months and 10 games after his arrival.
The reaction from his team-mates told the tale. They ran to embrace him. His own reaction? A relief and a release. There has been pressure to deliver but nothing compared to the pressure that he has been putting on himself. This was reward for his hard work.
Despite the hefty transfer fee, there is empathy at Everton because they can see this is someone with the right attitude. Not the most technically gifted, perhaps. Beto is not your average academy product. Famously, he worked at KFC early in his career.
Ricardo Pessoa, his coach at Portimonense, recalls the hours of work that Beto put in on the training ground there. Believing in himself when others did not. "He always said he was going to reach a high level," Pessoa tells Sky Sports. "Many thought it was impossible."
Beto was still playing in the regional leagues of Portugal for Olimpico Montijo after he had turned 20. When given the opportunity at a higher level with Portimonense, he went goalless throughout his first season with the club. But he wanted this badly.
"He is a fantastic kid, very hardworking and always wanting to improve," recalls Pessoa. "I remember him having a lot of difficulties receiving the ball, and finishing, putting the balls in the corners of the goals. And he always came to me to work on those moments."
He adds: "We would have a private bet on the number of goals that he would score and try to improve it each season." A mark of his rise is that he was able to match the 11-goal tally in his final full season with Portimonense when moving to Serie A with Udinese.
It helps to explain why Sean Dyche bet on him too. He recognised a player with the physicality and the mentality to thrive among his new 'Dogs of War'. Coming off the bench to score on his debut against Doncaster, turning the tie around, was a promising start.
There were further hints at the strength that would do for Schar. Beto was a handful for Ibrahima Konate in the Merseyside derby. Literally. The Liverpool defender could have been sent off for hauling him down. So too, Nottingham Forest's Felipe recently.
What was missing was that Premier League goal. His snatched effort in that win over Forest hinted at a growing desperation. Dyche tried to remind Beto of his strengths. But speaking to the Everton boss about this, he acknowledges that strikers can be difficult to coach.
"It is like an instinct," Dyche tells Sky Sports. "You can mould them, get them in the right areas, but when they are in there, how quickly do they see it, how quickly do they react, how quickly do they anticipate. The best strikers are those that anticipate best."
Beto has that movement. "He is adapting and he wants to adapt, he wants to learn," says Dyche. Perhaps surprisingly, given that this was his first goal, he ranks among the top 10 players in the Premier League for expected goals from open play this season.
Indeed, only Darwin Nunez is shooting as regularly as Beto. Erling Haaland is third. Only Sheffield United's Oli Burnie contests more aerial duels. That suggest that he is doing a lot of the right things and helps to explain why Dyche has been patient with him in public.
"It is always softly-softly with new players because we want them to find their feet naturally, which he has done. Now we will start gearing up his individual coaching, feedback and analysis. We have started to review things and that will help him to develop further.
"He has got a long way to go, I think, but he is willing to do it. He is hungry for it. He has come in as a very hungry player and we want that. We want that stimulus from a player who wants to progress their career as an individual and for that to rub off on the team."
That moment late in the game against Newcastle, his team-mates gathered around him in celebration, was the perfect example of that. "He deserves to succeed because of this attitude," says Pessoa. Maybe Beto's impossible journey is just beginning.