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“Mommy bless me”: The heartbreaking story behind Joao Cancelo’s posts

Manchester City v Olympiacos FC: Group C - UEFA Champions League
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Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo suffered the tragic loss of his mother in a car crash when he was 18-years-old.


If you follow Joao Cancelo on social media, you might have noticed that he always ends his posts with the hashtag “Mommy bless me”. The City player constantly pays his respects to his mother and those of you who don’t know his story may wonder why. 

Cancelo suffered a tragic loss when he was a young boy playing for Benfica B. Unfortunately, the defender, his 11-year-old brother, and their mother were involved in a serious car crash. The family was returning from the airport where they went to take Cancelo’s immigrant father and suffered an accident on their way back home. 

Joao and Pedro, the young brothers, sustained minor injuries and were quickly discharged from the hospital. However, their mother FIlomena passed away that night in 2013. The young right-back was naturally devastated after this terrible loss and didn’t leave the house for a whole month. Although Benfica offered him their full support and psychological help, Joao didn’t want to play football ever again. 


A comeback to make his mother proud.

Last year, Cancelo told Portuguese TV channel Canal 11 what made him decide to come back to the pitch and play as a professional footballer.

“My mother was my life support. Everything I have I also owe it to my father, he was an immigrant in Switzerland, but mainly [owe it] to her. She took me everywhere, worked three jobs every day. Back then I lived at my grandparents’ house and I rarely saw her. 

“Regarding football, I wanted to give up at first. I spent one month at home without training. Benfica’s directors would call me and I would tell them I didn’t want to leave my house, that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t feel ready to return to football but then one day my father spoke with me. He said he couldn’t be an immigrant anymore because he had to support me and my brother.


“From my father’s tears and our conversation I decided to play again. Now I’m almost sure she’s proud of me and everything I do is in her memory. The titles I win, individual or collective, will all be in her memory. A mother is a mother and she’s the love of my life without a doubt.”

This could just be a tragic story, but it is also a tale of strength and resilience. Joao Cancelo has taught us that no matter how tough things may get, we can always find a way to give meaning to our lives. In fact, as we watch the Portuguese’s career unfold, we’re sure of one thing: Cancelo’s mother would be overflowing with pride over her son’s achievements.