Majestic and precise are the best adjectives to describe Laurindo Dilson Maria Aurélio commonly known as Depu back home in Angola.
When you see Depu with a football, it is almost like a century-long friendship. The relationship is one of respect. Depu respects the ball and the ball respects Depu.
At the ongoing TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria, the Petro de Luanda striker is the joint leading goal scorer with two goals and an assist in just one game. His unique eye for goal and timely movements in the box have earned him praise in Algeria and across the world already.
“I feel great. I am super happy to have scored twice and made an assist in my debut at the CHAN but at the same time, I feel a bit sad because I wanted my team to win. We worked hard as a team to lead 3-1 but unfortunately, we conceded late and drew the game eventually,” Depu admits in an exclusive interview with CAFOnline.com.
Depu, who turned 23 on January 8, is a youngster on a mission. He wants to remind everyone that Angola is a great footballing nation.
“In the past, Angola produced top footballers. I remember watching them when I was young and saying that I want to be like them. My dream has always been to make Angola proud and to show the world that Angola is beautiful. I can do this through football,” he says with an ear-to-ear smile on his face.
“I am always thinking big. I want to be a big player and to achieve this, I must be consistent. I want to continue what the past generations did. I want to win games and to score more goals. If we win against Mauritania, we have an opportunity to go to the quarter-finals. We want more and we want to make Angolans proud.”
Born on the Atlantic Coast in the municipality of Lobito in Benguela Province in the western part of Angola, Depu has become a household name. Every young child now wants to be called Depu. He is a role model. The young kids see him on television and call out his name. He can no longer walk on the streets without being noticed.
His neighbours in Zona Alto Esperança are proud of his achievements and are very excited for his future. Now that he is playing for the national team, they know that their own son is making Angola proud at an international level.
“I am proud of where I come from. I started playing football thanks to my brothers and cousins. They were my first inspiration, and I will forever be grateful to them.”
The people of Lobito are mostly into fishing, and it is this spirit that Depu brings to the football pitch. He is aggressive. When he gets the ball, he is on target. He knows where the net is just like fishing back home in Lobito. He is precise.
“Where I come from in Lobito, there are not so many opportunities so when you have an opportunity, you must use it and make it count. This is what inspires me when I play football,” Depu explains with a glow in his eyes and a grateful face for what football has provided him and his family at large.
While he is thankful for what the game has given him, an unknown family matter spurs the Petro de Luanda attacker to patch things up with his father he last saw nine years ago.
“My father left us when I was 14 so my mother has raised my two brothers, sister, my cousins, and me. I owe her everything. I play for my family. One day, I will look for my father, but I am sure that he is reading about me in the newspapers and has seen me on television,” Depu revealed.
The versatile and dynamic Depu looks up to his Petro de Luanda team-mate Adriano Belmiro Duarte Nicolau aka Yano. “I grew up watching him on TV and now I play with him in the same team. I feel so privileged, and I want to continue learning.”
Last season, Depu scored 19 goals in 15 matches in all competitions and all of them came in the first half of the season. He was ruled out of the second half of the season after he suffered an injury to his left knee.
Despite being out for many months, he returned to action this season in time for the CHAN scoring two goals in three matches in the league in the lead up to the Algeria trip.
His team-mate and goalkeeper Hugo Marques speaks highly of Depu. He said, “I play with Depu at Petro de Luanda, and I see how talented he is. He is very humble and hardworking and scores goals for fun. He started this tournament already in good form and we are here to support him. He will go far. He is amazing.”
Depu has not only wowed his compatriots but has already received praise from Mauritanian coach Amir Abdou who said, “Angola have the best striker in this tournament. He is a top finisher and a good player in general.”
Angola face Mauritania in a must-win tie for both teams on Friday at the Mioud Hadefi Stadium in Oran at 1600 GMT if they are to stand a chance of making it to the quarter-finals of the TotalEnergies CHAN 2022 in Algeria.