Many might only remember Sebastián Coates as the 21-year-old Uruguayan centre-half that came to England and never seemed to settle, either at Liverpool or at Sunderland. Coates joined Liverpool after having been named “Best Young Player” of the Copa Ámerica when Uruguay won in 2011. People that knew him from his time in South America, more specifically in Uruguayan top-tier side Nacional, spoke of him very highly as well – but he never managed to show it consistently and in 2017 he left England after two seasons in Liverpool and two seasons at Sunderland to play for Portuguese side Sporting CP.
But what has happened since?
– His move to Sporting has made his career. In England, he never got his genuine breakthrough. At Sporting, he has found his home and is a recognized, respected player, the author of the Twitter account “Uruguayan Heroes” tells Football Elements.
But it didn’t happen overnight. Despite becoming a regular in the Sporting lineup, the Uruguayan international had some up-and-down performances prior to finding his feet. Today, though, he’s regarded as one of the best defenders in Liga NOS. He’s helped Sporting win 3 Taca da Liga titles and 1 Taca da Portugal title.
But, seemingly, the best is yet to come. Throughout the 2020-21 season, Coates has played the best football of his career. He’s led his team both by being commanding and by leading by example. He’s stepped up in crucial moments, like in Sporting’s latest match against Gil Vicente where Coates scored two late goals (84th, 91st) to give his team a 2-1 win. But, perhaps most of all, by stepping up and playing on a level he’s rarely shown before.
– He’s a much more complete player (than when he came), he is our captain, our leader on the pitch, off the pitch, and in the locker room. He’s respected by all, his peers, administrators, and fans. With our current coach, Ruben Amorim, he is allowed to play more upfront, especially when we are down like yesterday, in which he scored two goals, says the guys from Sporting160 EN – a fan-driven account and podcast dedicated to the team.
– Coates is experiencing the best season of his career. He had an up/down time last season and the one before, but, overall, he has been one of the best CB’s in Portugal since he moved to Sporting. His level this season has simply been ridiculous. Incredibly commanding. Very strong, both in the air and on the floor. A proper captain, the author of Uruguayan Heroes continues.
As a result, Sporting is on its way to win the club’s first league title in 2020 years. They’re currently sitting eight points clear on top of the table ahead of Porto with 19 matches played. Ex-Braga-, Valencia-, and Wolves winger Pedro Goncalves has led the way offensively with 14 goals, and Coates has held down the fort defensively.
In the national team it’s been tougher, however. Coates is fighting for his place with national team icon, and captain, Diego Godin and his successor Josema Gimenez. However, it’s been widely speculated that he might get a chance in the near future due to his impressive displays in Portugal.
So, what once looked like a failed talent in England has now found his home in Liga NOS and Sporting CP. Sebastián Coates is yet another example of a late bloomer and a testament that you don’t have to make it by the time you turn 21. He’s currently playing the football of his career at 30-years-old and is on the verge of making history in Portugal. He’s loved by the supporters, recognized across the league, and has truly made a name for himself.