Pedro Galvao: “I am sure wherever he is, he is with a smile, looking at me and saying, ‘You’re doing the right thing.’ ” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Hours before the Cosmos took on the Michigan Stars last Saturday, defender Pedro Galvao faced a difficult decision.
Should he don a uniform and play, or should he return to his native Portugal to attend the funeral of his beloved grandfather, Jose.
Galvao chose the former and had no regrets about it, playing an important role in the Cosmos’ 2-0 home victory.
“I had only 60 seconds to decide and I put myself in my grandfather’s situation and remembered all the moments,” he said. “Instantly, I said I am going to be professional. I am going to play because it’s going to be also for him and one day I’ll go to Portugal and see him again. I will say my goodbye, the way it has to be for me.
“I am sure wherever he is, he is with a smile, looking at me and saying, ‘You’re doing the right thing.’ ”
Needless to say, it was an emotional game and night for Galvao, who was in mourning. Jose was 89.
“Of course, you have moments in the game you think of whatever you need to think,” he said. When the anthem was done, that was a moment of silence. I was thinking of him. At the end of the game, I was happy for the victory, but at the same time, I couldn’t be there cheering with my team, with the fans. I just came inside and just cried.”
The 30-year-old defender put on a brave face for the team supporters, especially after the final whistle.
“At the end of the game, you have kids asking for autographs, asking for pictures,” he said. “They don’t know your story. they don’t know what you’ve been through the last couple of hours. You have to do all that with a smile. After that, I just came inside, and the tears were going down my face because you can’t hold it anymore. You hold it for 90 minutes. Then it’s done. You’re glad that it’s done. You did your job and just want to go home and stay with the rest of your family.”
Galvao usually is one of the first Cosmos players to show up at the team’s Mitchel Athletic Complex locker room. He met team equipment manager Artie Verdi, who asked the right back if everything was well. At the time, the only other person he told about Jose was his wife. Jose was 89.
“I just fell apart,” he said. “I told him, and I started crying. He gave me a big hug. He gave me a reason to continue and to go for the game. Carlos [Mendes head coach] and the staff, they asked me I was going to play if I was able to play. I said, of course, if my name is on the board, I’m going to play no matter what.”
Mendes wished Galvao’s and the organization’s deepest condolences to the defender and his family. They then had a conversation about how he felt and playing and if he was mentally OK to play.
“He said he wanted to play,” Mendes said. “In the most difficult moments, sometimes doing what we love most can help begin the healing process. I think Pedro felt like he wanted to be with the group and out on the field. We just wanted him to decide and support him anyway possible.”
Galvao said he was “very, very close” with Jose, particularly when he lived in Lousa, Portugal.
“We had a very strong relationship because he was by himself in his house,” he added. “My grandmother was in a retirement home, so he was by himself in his home. Almost three times a week I would go there and pick him up and go to the restaurant I was telling the guys I knew everything that he liked. I knew he liked long espresso. He always had cash, the way he put his cash in his wallet. I was more than a son for him.”
When Galvao ventured to the United States, he called every day to check in on Jose.
“Portuguese families usually are very, very close and we were very, very close, grandfather and grandson.”
It has been a difficult year for the Galvao family as Jose’s wife Zulmira passed away in May after several decades of marriage. Pedro did not know Zulmira’s exact age, although she was in her 80’s.
“It’s sad. It’s traumatic,” Galvao said. “She passed away in May. We had a weekend off, so nobody here knew about it. I didn’t go to Portugal. So, I hope whenever I go there for sure, I will go to the cemetery and say goodbye, even just for a while.
Zulmira’s death wasn’t a surprise because her health had been failing for a while.
“So, I hope that she is better now because she was suffering,” Galvao said. “I’m grown up enough to accept she’s better and it’s better for her. They had a very close relationship. My grandfather visited every day. She couldn’t talk but he was still there 9 a.m. When she passed away, he started to get weaker because he didn’t have her support. He lost his strength. That was it three months.”
The Cosmos defeated the Stars, 2-0, the team’s fourth shutout in five matches this NPSL Members Cup season.
“It was a hard game to play, not only because of my situation, part of my emotional situation,” Galvao said. “Every team that plays against the Cosmos, they come with everything. They play, they run more, because every player wants to wear the Cosmos badge, the jersey for the next season. So, they have to perform. They do whatever it takes to win the game and to show that they deserve to be here. So, every game is hard.”
The Cosmos (4-0-1, 13 points), who are in first place, visit Detroit City FC (3-0-0, 9) in a match that should have ramifications on who wins the championship in the 10-game season.
“For me, the game against Detroit is the most important game, not only because it’s the next one,” Galvao said. “I like to say that the next one is the most important because if we win against Detroit and we lose the next one, we’re going to lose the championship.
“It’s going to be hard, really, really hard. I already saw some videos of the fans there. I heard it’s going to be sold out and 7,000 or 8,000 fans. They are very, very supportive. So, I know it’s going to be a hard one. We have to look at ourselves and the way we play. They have to deal with us. We are very, very confident [entering] this game. We have a great team. we have some players that can’t play but we have a very good squad and we’re ready for them.”