Roberto Lopes is set to feature at the one of the biggest international stages of all.
Shamrock Rovers defender, Roberto Lopes is set to line out for Cape Verde at the African Cup of Nations, starting this week.
Lopes is born and bred in Crumlin, Dublin, and has played with distinction at senior League of Ireland level throughout his career.
But the African Cup of Nations will be an entirely different test altogether, as the central defender pits his wits against some of the best players Africa has to offer.
As a result, with so many eyes set to gaze on the competition, we have you covered as Roberto ‘Pico’ Lopes gets set to perform on one of the biggest stages in world football.
Who is Roberto Lopes?
Roberto Lopes is a 29-year-old defender from Dublin, who qualifies to play for Cape Verde through his father, who is from the Atlantic Ocean island.
Also going by the name of ‘Pico’, Lopes received his first call-up to the Cape Verde national team in 2019, and has since gone on to make eight international appearances for the country of his descent.
In addition to his flourishing international career, the Dubliner has also established himself as one of the best defenders in the League of Ireland, by first making his mark with Bohemians in 2011.
While at Dalymount Park, Lopes made over 100 appearances for the Gypsies, at a time when the Phibsborough outfit were fighting with financial issues.
But he managed to stave off relegation while he was at the club, and also won a Leinster Senior Cup there in 2016.
And during his stint at Dalymount, Lopes became an Ireland U19 international, and playing alongside current Irish international John Egan for a time.
But it was then when he went into the world of banking, qualifying as a mortgage advisor, before the lure of full-time football came calling.
In 2016, he made the move to bitter cross-town rivals Shamrock Rovers, where he has gone from strength to strength under Stephen Bradley.
— Shamrock Rovers FC ☘️ (@ShamrockRovers) November 21, 2021
Since joining the Hoops, Lopes has won back-to-back league titles, and also picked up an FAI Cup winners medal in 2019 against Dundalk.
It was from there when he was courted by Cape Verde, revealing on BBC Sport that it was a message on LinkedIn that brought him into their international fold.
He made his international debut in 2019 against Togo in a 2-0 win, and has since established himself as a regular fixture in the Cape Verde side.
What has he said?
Heading into the tournament, Lopes, and his Cape Verdean teammates have been placed in a group including hosts Cameroon, and Burkina Faso.
Ethiopia are also there, but the Shamrock Rovers defender, and his teammates are hopeful that they can at least get out of the group stages.
“We want to get out of the group phase, of course,” he told BBC Sport.
“I don’t think you can think about too much after that, because there are a lot of top teams that have qualified for this tournament.
“We’re in a really strong group with Cameroon and Burkina Faso. I don’t know too much about Ethiopia but if they are there, they are there on merit.
“The most important thing is that we approach the first game with the mentality that we need to win.”
When can you watch his games?
Thankfully, the African Cup of Nations will be available to view on Sky Sports throughout, with Lopes set for an opening day bow.
They begin their campaign against Ethiopia on January 9th, with the game being available to view on Sky Sports Football.
Take a look at the final squad lists for every team in Group A
?? Burkina Faso
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AFCON 2021 pic.twitter.com/Ku1QfWW9vj
— Shaban Mohammed (@ShabanMo9) January 3, 2022
Cape Verde then take on Burkina Faso in their second group game on January 13th. That clash against Burkino Faso will be available to watch on Sky Sports Premier League.
And then their final group outing will be against hosts Cameroon on January 17th, with the game set to be aired on Sky Sports Main Event, and Sky Sports Football.
Fixtures in full for Roberto Lopes and Cape Verde.
Sunday 9th January 2022 – Ethiopia v Cape Verde – 7pm – Sky Sports Football
Thursday 13th January 2022 – Cape Verde v Burkina Faso – Sky Sports Premier League
Monday 17th January 2022 – Cape Verde v Cameroon – 4pm – Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Football