HAMDEN, Conn. - Former Quinnipiac University men's soccer standout Graciano Brito has signed a professional contract with Clube Operario Desportivo of the Portuguese League in Division II. Brito began a trial on Jan. 4 and was signed to a contract the following day before being selected for the team's 18-player roster for Operario's game on the 10th of the month. He is the first Quinnipiac player in Head Coach Eric Da Costa's tenure to play major professional soccer in either Europe or North America.
"Graciano has worked extremely hard for this opportunity," said Da Costa. "He deserves the chance to showcase himself at the highest level and I'm sure he will take full advantage of his time at Operario."
In his first game with his new team, Brito saw action in the second half. The former Bobcat forward entered the game in the second half as a substitute in his professional debut.
"It's privilege and a dream come true to be playing at this level," said Brito. "I credit this achievement to Eric Da Costa, for helping me and the Quinnipiac soccer program to achieve such accomplishments."
In his final season at Quinnipiac, Brito was named the 2008 Northeast Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, becoming just the fifth player in league history to win the award in back-to-back years. He led the NEC in goals (18), goals per game and points per game en route to helping the Bobcats reach the post season for the first time since his freshman year of 2004. Brito finished his four-year career with Quinnipiac the program's Division I career leader in goals (40) and points (92). His 18 goals and 39 points this season were Division I program single-season records, surpassing Everson Maciel's 2001 season marks.
Da Costa added, "He has had to overcome many obstacles in his life. It will be those very experiences which will motivate him the most as he takes on these new challenges. Graciano made a major impact on our program here at Quinnipiac and I'm sure he will make the same impact at Operario."
Brito was named a two-time All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, earning the distinction in his junior (2007) and senior (2008) seasons. He was also named a member of the College Soccer News All-American Third Team as a senior after finishing as the National Statistical Champion in goals per game and points per game in his final season at Quinnipiac.