Fabio Coentrao has said that he is content with his decision to take a step down from Real Madrid in order to chase happiness.
The Portugal international left-back has had a difficult year, having described his time on loan at Sporting CP as “exhausting” and even asked not to be involved in his country’s World Cup squad as a consequence.
He returned to Madrid in the summer but the prospect on being on the periphery in the Spanish capital was not one that appealed to him, and eventually he asked the club to cancel his contract so that he could move elsewhere.
Rio Ave, his boyhood club, came calling at the last minute after the 30-year-old had previously held out for Sporting to return.
“I waited until the 31st for a call from them, after I gave them everything I had last year, but I didn’t get anything,” he told Record. “It’s sad.
“After that, I thought I needed to be happy and I lost a lot of money to get that happiness at [Rio Ave], a club that has always acted well and faithful to me. There is no money that can pay for happiness. I was born poor. I don't mind dying poor.”
Rio Ave finished fifth in Portugal last season, though they were a distant 24 points short of fourth-placed Braga and a further 13 shy of champions Porto.
They did enough to qualify for the Europa League this season, but their participation was cut short by a shock 5-4 aggregate loss to Jagiellonia of Poland.
Coentrao’s career started in 2005 at the club, before permanent moves to Benfica and Real Madrid, as well as loan spells at several clubs, most notably Monaco. He has won 53 Portugal caps and has picked up a raft of trophies, including the Champions League in 2014 and 2017 while with Madrid.