Lucas Moura, today's hottest name in European soccer, has strong Fargo ties
FARGO — If you haven't yet heard the name Lucas Moura, you soon might.
He's the hottest name in worldwide sports today, having scored all three goals in the second half of Tottenham Hotspur's come-from-behind 3-2 victory Wednesday to send his north London English Premier League team into the final of the Champions League, the Super Bowl of European soccer.
Lucas, as he's simply known to most, completed the hat trick in dramatic fashion, scoring the winning goal in the waning seconds of the game. His team was losing 2-0 at halftime to Ajax of Amsterdam.
"For him (Lucas) to get us in the final, he'll be a hero. I hope he gets a statue in England after this ... I'm blown away, there's really no words for it," said teammate Christian Eriksen after the game. Tottenham will play Liverpool in the all-England final June 1 in Madrid.
The Champions League final is a big deal worldwide. Last year's final had a TV audience of 380 million people, well more than double that of the most-watched Super Bowl in 2015, which had a worldwide TV audience of 165 million.
Lucas, whose face is plastered across European media today, is the nephew of Fargo's Cris Marcil Linnares and Bill Marcil Jr., president and CEO of Forum Communications Co. and publisher of The Forum.
Cris' niece, Larissa, is married to Lucas. Larissa and Lucas have a 1-year-old boy and a baby on the way. In fact, Larissa and her mom, Cris' only sister, lived in Fargo for about a year when Larissa was a teenager. How Larissa met Lucas is a story for another day.
Cris and her family are from Sao Paulo, Brazil. So is Lucas. Like many Brazilian families, they are very close and frequently talk to each other. So you can imagine what it was like after Lucas had the game of his life on one of the biggest sporting stages Wednesday.
"Unbelievable," Cris said over and over by phone early Wednesday evening, somewhat exhausted by all the drama. "We are just so, so happy." She said Larissa, her god daughter, can't stop happy-crying for her husband.
Cris and Bill watched Wednesday's game in Fargo. Well, Cris couldn't watch most of it. She gets too nervous. But she did manage to watch when it mattered and couldn't believe the storybook ending that has much of the world talking about her quiet and humble nephew who wants to visit Minnesota lakes country next summer after their next child is born.
"He has said, more than anything, 'My dream is to play in the Champions League (final),'" Cris said of Lucas.
In fact, Lucas told reporters following the match that Wednesday's game-winning goal was the best moment of his life.
"Impossible to explain what I'm feeling," he told Reuters news agency. "I'm very happy and very proud of my teammates. Always believe in this moment. We gave everything on the pitch and deserved this moment -- we are family. Impossible to explain. Big gift from God I'd like to share with teammates, friends and family."
It might be a gift, but Wednesday's result also caused some conflict within his extended family.
Larissa's brother, Lucas' brother-in-law, is to be married in Brazil on ... wait for it ... June 1, the day of the Champions League final in Madrid. When the wedding was planned a long time ago, nobody, especially Lucas himself, believed his team could make the final of the year-long 32-team European tournament. The English Premier League season ends this Sunday and June 1 is normally part of a team's off-season.
Cris said Wednesday night that her niece sees the entire circumstance as a sign from God that one must have faith in their dreams and not doubt their own power to influence their future.
At the time of this writing, the wedding was likely going to be postponed so the wedding party could instead travel to Madrid for the final, as some events only come around once in a lifetime.