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Fábio Faria was a special guest at the Portuguese cup final between Benfica and Rio Ave last Sunday. The 25-year old defender formerly played for both clubs, and had to retire in March 2013 due to a heart problem.

The Portuguese Professional Footballers' Association (SJPF) and the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) took advantage of the occasion to pay tribute to Faria. SJPF President Joaquim Evangelista and FA President Fernando Gomes handed Faria a special medal. A few minutes before kick-off Faria stepped on the pitch with players from both teams jointly paying tribute to him by showing the shirts of the teams.

President Evangelista appreciated the initiative. "SJPF is grateful to the FPF for inviting us to take part in this homage to Fábio Faria".

"Our union takes great pride in convincing players of the need to prepare for life after football. There is always a risk of losing your job in this profession for example due to health issues. We inform the players about the possibility of a suitable education to prepare for a second career".

"In Fábio's case, SJPF has helped him, through the Solidarity Project, in order to grant him the chance of gaining a degree in Sports Management. Recently, we also had a similar case with Igor Pita (União da Madeira)".

Faria was delighted with the special homage. "I thank the FPF for this moment. Unfortunately, I have never played a Portuguese Cup Final, but I am very pleased to have been invited. Also I would like to thank the SJPF for always standing right by me. Finally, I would like to thank Benfica and Rio Ave for all their support and help".

Benfica beat Rio Ave (1-0) to claim the Portuguese Cup, their third trophy of this season.

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