Esmaël Gonçalves

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Esmaël Gonçalves
Personal information
Full name Esmaël Ruti Tavares Cruz
da Silva Gonçalves[1]
Date of birth (1991-06-25) 25 June 1991 (age 23)
Place of birth Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Striker / Winger
Club information
Current team
Rio Ave
Number 11
Youth career
2005–2008 Boavista
2008–2011 Nice
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2011–2012 Nice 18 (2)
2012– Rio Ave 21 (1)
2013 St. Mirren (loan) 12 (3)
2013–2014 APOEL (loan) 10 (3)
2014 Veria (loan) 15 (2)
National team
2007–2008 Portugal U17 3 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22 December 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 30 November 2011

Esmaël Ruti Tavares Cruz da Silva Gonçalves (born 25 June 1991), known as Esmaël Gonçalves or "Isma",[1] is an African footballer who plays as a striker/winger for Rio Ave.



Gonçalves was born in Bissau, the capital city of Guinea-Bissau, but moved to Portugal with his family at the age of three.[2] He began his football career with Boavista. Since leaving Boavista, Gonçalves claims the club never paid him his wages, which he described this as "very hard".[3] Gonçalves spent three years at the club before venturing to France to sign with Nice after being invited to trial at the club.[4] Prior to signing with the club, he drew interest from English club Liverpool.[2] Gonçalves spent two years in Nice's youth academy before earning promotion to the club's reserve team in the Championnat de France amateur 2 for the 2010–11 season. Following a successful first half at reserve level, he was called up to the senior team in January 2011 and made his professional debut in a 2–0 defeat to Bordeaux appearing as a substitute.[5] That was his only senior team appearance of the campaign.

On 30 June 2011, Gonçalves signed his first professional contract agreeing to a three-year deal until 2014.[6] He was officially promoted to the senior team by manager Éric Roy and assigned the number 24 shirt for the 2011–12 season. Gonçalves made his season debut on 14 August appearing as a substitute in a 1–0 loss to Evian.[7] Two weeks later, he made another appearance from the bench in a 0–0 draw with Brest.[8] His most famous moment with the French side came in a famous 4–3 away win v Olympique Lyonais, where'Isma' netted the winner.

Return to Portugal[edit]

On 3 August 2012, Nice confirmed on its official website that Gonçalves would be returning to Portugal to join first division club Rio Ave. Gonçalves had previously expressed his desire to join the Vila do Conde-based club in order to be near his family.[9]

St. Mirren[edit]

On 22 January 2013, he signed on loan with Scottish Premier League club St. Mirren until the end of the 2012–13 season.[10] The day after he had signed on loan with the Paisley club, he was quoted in the local newspaper that he could be "the next Drogba".[11] He followed up this bold statement with a confident four goals in his first three games for the club.

Gonçalves scored his first goal for the club on his debut in the Scottish League Cup semi-final in a 3–2 win over Celtic at Hampden Park.[12] Gonçalves' goal was the first goal St. Mirren had scored against Celtic since March 2010.[13] Three days later, "Isma" made his first Scottish Premier League appearance against Inverness, nutmegging the goalkeeper to score his first league goal for St. Mirren in a 2–1 victory.[14]

In his first Scottish Cup appearance against St. Johnstone, Gonçalves scored a brace to give St. Mirren a 2–0 victory.[15] Soon after in February and March 2013 saw St. Mirren experience a set of unfortunate results, with only one win in seven games which was a 2–0 victory over Hearts.[16] Despite this, Gonçalves continued to play in good form and scored another goal against Celtic at St. Mirren Park in a 2–1 loss in the sixth round of the Scottish Cup.[17]

On 17 March 2013, Gonçalves played in the Scottish League Cup final against Hearts where he scored the equalising goal and provided an assist for Conor Newton's third in a 3–2 victory to help St. Mirren win their first League Cup and their first major trophy since 1987.[18] Shortly scoring the final, Gonçalves lifted his jersey, which had the inscription "Forca Fábio Faria" (translate "Strength Fábio Faria"), dedicating a goal to him, whose career ended after a heart condition. Gonçalves was then booked by the referee.[19]

In a 1–1 draw against Celtic on 31 March 2013, Gonçalves caused controversy when he dived to win the penalty after being fouled by Emilio Izaguirre, though there's no proof that Izaguirre touched Gonçalves in the penalty box, thanks to TV pictures.[20] After the match, Gonçalves was given a two match ban by the SFA, following an issue of complaint for his action of diving,[21] which he accept to miss two match.[22] Gonçalves then told BBC Scotland he's happy to make a return to St.Mirren in the future.[23] The club was willing to make the move to sign Gonçalves permanent. At the first, parent club Rio Ave announced their decision that he will not return to the club, the following season.[24] But then, the club told St.Mirren that they must pay £400K to sign Gonçalves permanently.[25]


On 3 July 2013, he completed a move to Cypriot side APOEL, on a season-long loan deal from Rio Ave.[26] Before his move to APOEL, Gonçalves have attracted interests from clubs in Nottingham Forest, Celtic, Rangers[27] and Aberdeen, who attempt to sign him on loan.[28]

He scored on his APOEL debut against NK Maribor at GSP Stadium on 31 July 2013, opening the scoring in a 1–1 first leg draw for the third qualifying round of the 2013–14 UEFA Champions League.[29] On 24 October 2013, he scored the equaliser against Bordeaux in APOEL's 2–1 defeat at Stade Chaban-Delmas for the third matchday of the UEFA Europa League group stage.[30]

He scored his first league goals in APOEL's 5–0 home victory against AEK Kouklia on 2 December 2013, in a match which Gonçalves managed to score a hat-trick.[31]

On 31 December 2013, APOEL terminated Esmaël's contract with the club by mutual consent, after the player repeatedly broke curfew and ignored successive team warnings to reduce his alcohol and cigarette consumption.[32]


On 14 January 2014, Veria signed Esmaël on a one year loan deal.[33] He scored his first Superleague goal in Veria's defeat against PAOK.

International career[edit]

Though born in the Guinea-Bissau, Gonçalves is a naturalized citizen of Portugal. He has represented Portugal at under-17 level.[2] In 2010, he was called up to the Portugal under-20 team to participate in training sessions as the team was preparing for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Gonçalves, however, showed up to the camp out of shape and was, ultimately, not considered for the tournament by coach Ilídio Vale.[2]

Career statistics[edit]


As of 7 December 2013
Club Season League Cup[nb 1] Europe Other[nb 2] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Nice 2010–11 1 0 0 0 1 0
2011–12 17 2 2 1 19 3
Total 18 2 2 1 20 3
Rio Ave 2012–13 6 0 2 0 8 0
Total 6 0 2 0 8 0
St Mirren (loan) 2012–13 12 3 4 5 16 8
Total 12 3 4 5 16 8
APOEL (loan) 2013–14 10 3 0 0 6 2 1 0 17 5
Total 10 3 0 0 6 2 1 0 17 5
Career Total 46 8 8 6 6 2 1 0 61 16



St. Mirren


  1. ^ Includes Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue matches.
  2. ^ Includes Cypriot Super Cup matches.


  1. ^ a b "Esmaël Portuguese Football Federation Profile". Portuguese Football Federation (in Portuguese). Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Esmaël Gonçalves: guia de Djaló espera FC Porto". Mais Futebol (in Portuguese). 9 October 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "I was on no pay to play deal". The Scottish Sun. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Qui est Esmael Gonçalves?". Actufoot (in French). 21 November 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Bordeaux v. Nice Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 20 January 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Nice – Contrats pro pour Goncalves et Véronèse". Fédération Internationale de Football Association (in French). 30 June 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Evian v. Nice Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 14 August 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Nice v. Brest Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 27 August 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Gonçalvès (Nice) rejoint Rio Ave". L'Equipe (in French). 3 August 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "St Mirren sign Portuguese striker Esmael Goncalves from Rio Ave". BBC Sport. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  11. ^ "Goncalves vows to be St Mirren's answer to Drogba". Paisley Daily Express. 24 January 2013. Archived from the original on 5 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "St. Mirren 3 – 2 Celtic". BBC Sport. 27 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "St Mirren 3 Celtic 2: Hoops' hopes of treble over after Buddies set up Hearts final". Daily Mail. 28 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "St Mirren 2 – 1 Inverness CT". BBC Sport. 30 January 2013. 
  15. ^ "St Mirren 2–0 St Johnstone". BBC Sport. 2 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "St Mirren 2 Hearts 0: Graham Carey's wonder goal lifts Saints". Daily Record. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  17. ^ "St Mirren 1 – 2 Celtic". BBC Sport. 2 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "St Mirren 3 – 2 Hearts". BBC Sport. 17 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "Esmael dedicated goal to Fábio Faria" [Esmael dedicou golo a Fábio Faria] (in Portuguese). Record. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  20. ^ "St Mirren 1 – 1 Celtic". BBC Sport. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  21. ^ "SFA cites St Mirren's Esmael Goncalves for simulation". BBC Sport. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  22. ^ "St Mirren's Esmael Goncalves accepts two-match ban". BBC Sport. 4 April 2–13. Retrieved 4 July 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  23. ^ "Esmael Goncalves happy to return to St Mirren". BBC Sport. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  24. ^ "Gonecalves". The Scottish Sun. 20 March 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  25. ^ "Transfer Talk, June 11: Great expectations and the latest moves". Daily Record. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  26. ^ "Esmaël Gonçalves" (in Greek). APOEL FC. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  27. ^ "£4m? To Hull with that". The Scottish Sun. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  28. ^ "Dons eye loan bid for Esmael". The Scottish Sun. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  29. ^ "Battling Maribor hold APOEL". UEFA. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  30. ^ "Henrique swoops as Bordeaux snatch late win". UEFA. 24 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  31. ^ "APOEL vs. AE Kouklion 5-0". Soccerway. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  32. ^ Ανακοίνωση [Announcement] (in Greek). APOEL FC. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  33. ^ "Ποδοσφαιριστής της ΒΕΡΟΙΑΣ ο ΙSMAEL GONCALVES" [ISMAEL GONCALVES player of VERIA] (in Greek). VERIA FC. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 

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