Samba darter Diogo Portela poised for historic World Darts Championship debut

Portela celebrates during the 2017 PDC World Cup (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

When you think of Brazil and sport, darts isn't exactly the first thing that springs to mind, but one man will ensure the samba spirit sweeps Alexandra Palace this Christmas.

From Rio de Janeiro to Richmond, Diogo Portela has embarked on an incredible journey which has led him to the sport's greatest stage and a chance to make history.

The 29-year-old will realise his darting dream when he steps out to face world number two Peter Wright in the opening round of the World Championship on Thursday December 21.

After winning the Central & South American Qualifier, he will become the first Brazilian ever to compete in the PDC World Championship - which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Portela told Live Darts. "It's the most important tournament and anyone would pick the World Championship over any other.

"To be fair, I don't have much expectation, Peter is the second best player in the world.

"When I was watching the draw on TV, I thought it could've been a little bit easier!

"Everyone in the top 32 is more than good enough to beat me but I will give Peter a proper game.

"Not that I fancy my chances but I will give him something to worry about."

Portela's darting fairy-tale began in 2015 when he appeared on the Sky One darts show One Hundred and Eighty, where, with the help of James Wade, he won £16,500.

For a short time, Wade took the likable Brazilian under his wing, offering him invaluable advice and arranging practice sessions.

Portela has since gone from strength-to-strength, making his competitive TV debut in June's World Cup, where he partnered Alexandre Sattin to victory over Switzerland, before eventually losing out to hosts Germany.

Despite the hopes of a nation resting on his shoulders, 'Braziliant' insists he is unfazed by big occasion and hopes to add to the carnival atmosphere at Ally Pally.

"It's a great achievement to think that in the whole history no one before me from Brazil has qualified, but I try not to think about these things.

"I always believed I would play in the World Championship but not as quick as it has happened.

"When I moved from Brazil I thought maybe five years, but it just shows that practice pays off.

"I've got loads of support and I think the crowd will be a sea of yellow!

"My dad is coming to watch, as are my two brothers, my wife, my sister-in-law and loads of players I play with have bought tickets for the night."

An accountant by trade, Portela took the bold step of quitting his job earlier this year to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time professional, and believes the gamble is already starting to pay off.

"I quit my job just after the World Cup in June to focus 100 per cent on darts," added Portela.

"My management, the Darts Performance Centre, have been helping me a lot and if it wasn't for them I'd still be working.

"I treat darts a proper job; I wake up in the morning, put my trousers and playing shirt on and go into the living room to practice.

"I tend to practice for 6-8 hours a day but some days it can be 12 hours, I'm really giving my all to it.

"Some days I practice so much that I lose track of time and forget to eat!"

Portela had enjoyed minimal success on the Challenge Tour in 2015 and 2016 before trying his hand at Qualifying School in January.

Though he failed to make the final cut, his performances at Q School ensured he received invites to a number of ProTour events as a top-up player, while continuing to ply his trade on the PDC's second tier circuit.

Portela insists he will return to Q School in 2018 in a bid to secure a coveted two-year Tour Card and is looking to draw upon the valuable experience he has gained in his first taste of the professional circuit.

"I'm a completely different player, I've learned a lot from this year and my mentality is completely different.

"My main target is to try and get a Tour Card and if I win a couple of rounds at the Worlds I can get the Tour Card, but that is a very long shot.

"It's very important because if you'd have said to me, would you take a spot in the Worlds or a Tour Card? I would have said the Tour Card.

"But I will be going back to Q School in January and I'm practicing like never before," he added.



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Samba darter Diogo Portela poised for historic World Darts Championship debut

When you think of Brazil and sport, darts isn't exactly the first thing that springs to mind, but one man will ensure the samba spirit sweeps Alexandra Palace this Christmas.

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