Interview: Luís Boa Morte talks Arsenal, Arsene Wenger and coaching aspirations

Luís Boa Morte talks to VAVEL's Darren Borg about his time at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger and his coaching aspirations.

Interview: Luís Boa Morte talks Arsenal, Arsene Wenger and coaching aspirations
Luís Boa Morte in Arsenal colours.

Luís Boa Morte joined Arsenal in 1997 from Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon, for a fee of £1.75 million, and was one of Arsene Wenger's first signings for the Gunners.

Boa Morte believes that Wenger was influential in his overall development as a footballer: “Wenger was like a Dad for me, it was really important with the way he was helping me on and off the pitch", he told VAVEL.

Boa Morte made his debut as a substitute against Southampton in August 1997. Boa Morte won the Premier League (1997-98) and two FA Charity Shields while at Arsenal, and considers lifting the Premier League trophy as his favourite moment at the North London club. Although he did not score in any of the 25 League appearances he made for Arsenal, he did score four goals in other competitions; he scored two against Birmingham City in the League Cup, one against Panathinaikos in the European Cup and another against Preston North End in the FA Cup. The former Lourinhanense man made his final appearance for the North London outfit in 1999, as a second half substitute away to Sunderland. To this day, Boa Morte is an avid follower of Arsenal, as well as Fulham.

Leaving Arsenal for pastures new

In August 1999, Southampton manager Dave Jones swooped for the former Portuguese international, in a deal worth £500,000. Unfortunately, things did not go to plan at the Saints, and Boa Morte was eventually loaned out to Fulham in 2000. This is where Boa Morte really thrived. In the 2000/2001 season, Boa Morte helped get the West London side promoted to the Premier League with 18 goals in 39 games, and a number of man-of-the-match performances. As a result, Fulham manager Jean Tigana jumped at the chance to sign the winger permanently, paying £1.7 million for his services in June 2001.

Boa Morte spent seven seasons at Fulham, and scored 45 goals in 195 games for the club. To this day, he is a cult hero among the Cottagers’ fans. Boa Morte left Fulham in January 2007, signing for West Ham United for a fee believed to be in the region of £5 million. In August 2011, he was reunited with former Fulham manager Chris Coleman at Greek club AE Larissa, where he spent six months, helping them achieve promotion to the top flight of Greek football, before spending the rest of the season at South African side Orlando Pirates.

In October 2012, Boa Morte returned to England, turning out for League Two outfit Chesterfield following an unsuccessful trial with Portsmouth. After spending a year there and scoring no goals in 12 games, Boa Morte signed for non-league Hampshire side Four Marks, although, as he regrettably informed VAVEL that he never did make his debut for the club.

As well as having a decorated club career, Boa Morte made 28 appearances for the Portuguese national team, playing alongside stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo and Deco. His first and only goal in a Portugal shirt came in a friendly against Angola in 2001 - this game had to be later abandoned as the Africans were reduced to six men before the full-time whistle. The Lisbon-born footballer was part of the side that knocked England out and reached the semi-finals of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Now 37-years-old, Boa Morte is a coach, who worked, rather successfully, with his home team’s youth players last season: “I was the U19’s head coach at Sporting Lisbon. The season went well, we finished second in the National Championship. Now I [have] left and looking for a new challenge.” Could this new challenge see the former Fulham captain return to England? Maybe. As Boa Morte simply says, “If I can coach or manage in England, then even better.”