Author: Leonardo Rodrigues
If you have been playing football managing simulators for a long time, you might have played Championship Manager, known as the father of Football Manager, as it was Sports Interactive’s first attempt at a football sim, in partnership with Eidos. At the beginning of the millennium, it was the go-to option for this sort of gameplay, making many fans of the genre around the globe.
Back in the CM 01/02 days, on various internet forums, players discussed all sorts of topics, from tactics to hiring, and shared their thoughts and insights on the game and its management. When the topic was cheap and unknown players with enormous potential to hire, one name always came up: Tó Madeira.
In-game, Tó Madeira was a 22-year-old Portuguese striker representing Clube Desportivo de Gouveia, a small team from Guarda, Portugal, that currently plays on a district level. His quality was remarkable, scoring more than 50 goals per season, with a pace that could be compared to a horse competing in the Kentucky Derby race. This made him an absolute fan favourite and famous worldwide.
His potential could lead him to Cristiano Ronaldo’s levels or even beyond. But what happened to Tó Madeira after all? Well, he did and did not exist. He certainly isn’t like one of those fake Madden players with hilarious names that can make you win the SuperBowl in the franchise mode. Let me explain…
At the time, Sports Interactive needed local volunteers to help with inserting players from lower divisions into the game, in their respective clubs. These volunteers would respond to an advertisement if they were willing to participate and were required to fill numerous parameters for each player of a certain team they were assigned to.
In the 2000/01 season, the volunteer responsible for helping with C. D. Gouveia added Tó Madeira and two more players to the original existing team, marking the birth of a legend. But who is Tó Madeira after all?
According to a 2014 interview for a Portuguese newspaper, Tó Madeira is the childhood nickname of the volunteer himself, and both players he added in the 2000/01 were his friends. António Lopes, now 35 years old, played for Gouveia but only as a child, so he didn’t pursue a career in football.
He also states he added Tó Madeira and his friends as a tribute to his hard work. After that season, he was invited to collaborate in the 01/02 version of CM, adding information on Gouveia once again.
This time he had exams to do for his degree and couldn’t focus on other matters, so he decided to insert Tó Madeira again as well as his friends and his relatives, exaggerating on their attributes. Lopes expected Sports Interactive to have some sort of algorithm to detect these sorts of fake players, but his submissions went live.
In the winter market, an update removed Tó Madeira from CM 01/02, ending the short-lived digital career of the fictional football player, but not it’s cult status, his myth. That year’s debut of the game ended up being one of the most sold editions in the franchise’s history, and maybe the greatest success Eidos has achieved with the Championship Manager license before it was put on a permanent hiatus.
As for Tó Madeira, he became a household name for the football managing sim community since then and there is even a team of past and present Sports Interactive staff, F. C. Tó Madeira, founded in his homage.
According to their own page, the team was founded on the 6th of July of 2011, and their first season started in September of that year in the Central London Sunday Super League. An amateur league played in the English capital, with one goal: to “bring the same joy, talent and swashbuckling adventure” that Tó Madeira did.