Soccer

Lucas Covolan hopes for another ‘special moment’ in the FA Cup with Maidstone

The Brazilian goalkeeper is hoping to keep out Coventry on Monday.

Lucas Covolan helped Maidstone to a stunning win at Ipswich
Ipswich Town v Maidstone United – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Portman Road Lucas Covolan helped Maidstone to a stunning win at Ipswich (Joe Giddens/PA)

Maidstone FA Cup hero Lucas Covolan once scored a goal and saved two penalties in a play-off final but just a few months later found himself in the depths of depression.

The Brazilian goalkeeper, pushed into attack with his Torquay side trailing Hartlepool 1-0 in the 2021 National League final, headed an added-time equaliser to take the match to extra time.

“The feeling of scoring a goal is totally different from just saving it,” he recalled.

“Such a high moment of my career. I don’t know if it brought me into the mental issues I had as well, but I will remember that day for ever.

“It was a corner, they cleared it, it went for a throw-in, I thought they were going to put it back in the box again, so I stayed up.

Lucas Covolan scored a stoppage-time equaliser for Torquay
Hartlepool United v Torquay United – Vanarama National League – Play Off Final – Ashton Gate Lucas Covolan scored a stoppage-time equaliser for Torquay (Nigel French/PA)

“It was  great header in the end. I remember looking and the ball was going in the net in slow motion. I didn’t know how to celebrate.”

Covolan then kept out two spot-kicks in the shoot-out, but unfortunately his team-mates missed three and Torquay missed out on promotion.

An ill-fated spell at Port Vale followed where Covolan experienced his mental health problems.

So when the goalkeeper sank to his knees following his extraordinary display in National League South side Maidstone’s stunning 2-1 fourth-round win at Ipswich, the emotions came flooding out.

“It was a thousand moments in the past two years,” he added. “When I went to the league with Port Vale, my mindset was not right.

The Brazilian endured a tough spell at Port Vale
Port Vale v Bradford City – Sky Bet League Two – Vale Park The Brazilian endured a tough spell at Port Vale (Isaac Parkin/PA)

“Suffering with my mental health, being depressed. I was thinking of the people who helped me through it.

“When I went down on my knees and just cried, it was remembering all the down moments. It was reward for myself, a very special moment.”

Covolan, missing his family back in Brazil, became a withdrawn figure until he sought help from the PFA and received therapy.

“It was a long time, right now I wish I had come forward before and not waited that long,” he said.

Covolan and his team-mates celebrate a historic win at Ipswich
Ipswich Town v Maidstone United – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Portman Road Covolan and his team-mates celebrate a historic win at Ipswich (Joe Giddens/PA)

“I like to speak about this now, try to encourage people to come forward.”

Covolan and his Maidstone team-mates made history by becoming the first team outside of the top five divisions to reach the FA Cup fifth round since Blyth Spartans in 1978.

They travel to another Championship side, Coventry, on Monday night bidding for a scarcely believable place in the quarter-finals.

Covolan’s heroics have not gone unnoticed by the Premier League’s Brazilian goalkeeping fraternity, Manchester City’s Ederson and Alisson Becker of Liverpool.

“They say when I go up north they will invite me to have a barbecue,” he said.

“I don’t know who’s going to cook, probably Alisson because he comes from the south. I think his barbecue is going to be better.”