Gerso Fernandes' life story isn't like that of most pro soccer players. Or most anybody.
The Sporting KC forward publicly revealed his harrowing tale a year ago, in an feature written by the Kansas City Star’s Sam McDowell.
That story includes orphanhood, murder, and adoption. MLSsoccer.com caught up with Gerso one year after he “released the burden” to see how his life has changed since coming to Sporting Kansas City.
“Most of the teams I’ve played with in Portugal, I had never really shared my story with them the same way that I shared here,” Gerso told MLSsoccer.com. ”But even before they knew the story of my life, they were supportive and had been there for whatever I needed. They just kept being the same, knowing the ’Real Gerso.’”
Gerso played in Portugal for most of his life, playing with some of the middle-tier sides in the Portuguese first division, such as Estoril Praia, Moreirense FC, and his previous club, Belenenses. In his first year in Kansas City, he managed to accomplish some of the goals right away, thanks to the a winning run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup by Sporting last season.
“The biggest difference between playing with Sporting and playing in Portugal,” Gerso said, “is, playing here I feel like I’m playing with a big team who plays to win titles and win championships.”
"When I was in Portugal, all the teams I was playing at, they always treated me like a professional, and I have nothing against them. I just feel like the goals that I had in Portugal, and the goals that I have here they are completely different. And the goals that I have here with Sporting KC are the goals that I have always wanted for my career. To play every week, to be in first place, and win championships.”
One of Gerso’s biggest life changes since coming to Kansas City has been getting married. He met his wife, Emmy, during their first weekend back after Sporting KC’s preseason camp in Tucson, Arizona.
“Since then we started spending time together,” Gerso said. “She was very important to my adaptation to the culture and to Kansas City. She was one of the most supportive people in that part of my life.”
He continued, “I feel completely comfortable living here with a different life than I had in Portugal. Here, I feel completely home and that nothing is missing. Much of that is because of Emmy and her family.”
Gerso and Emmy Fernandes were married in July of this summer.
While Gerso’s family off the field continues to grow, the once-orphaned winger has a family on and off the field.
“With Sporting KC, I feel like we are a family,” Gerso said. “With me and my teammates, I feel like we are so tight. We are always ready to help each other, and when someone is going through some difficult moments, we are always there to help each other.”
Gerso was asked if he’d like to spend the rest of his career with Sporting KC. He didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah, sure. It would be more than OK with me.”
“I think the chemistry between the players and the coach is something that’s not very usual to find in teams,” Gerso said.
“It was something that I found here. I feel like they are my family. So if I could spend the rest of my career playing for people that I like, and enjoy spending time, and talk, and whatever else, then yeah. It would be a big yes. No doubt.”