What’s like to play in Greece? The Greeks are fanatic about football, aren’t they?
The Greeks are really fanatic, sometimes it’s even over the top. My move here has been important too, Panathinaikos has been a club that has opened doors for me, gave me conditions to keep playing. Of course in the beginning you feel a great difference when you come from England, but I was started to adapt slowly, it has not been so difficult and it’s been nice.I’ve been for 3 years already, it went by quickly, it’s coming to the end.
Talking about the European cities where you have lived, which one you liked the most?
Every place has a good side and a side you like less. London, for the easiness, the opportunities, the quickness in so many aspects and a greater calmness about things than we have here, but the weather doesn’t help much. Here is the opposite, the weather is wonderful, but there’s this other side,some things happen very slowly. I always try to focus on the bright side of things; if we think about it, everything has a negative side. So I try to always focus on the positive side, because that’s how I think things should be.
Do Brazilian players have more difficulty to adapt to the European culture in certain places more than the other foreigners?
When you see Brazilian players that had an opportunity to be abroad going back to Brazil earlier than expected, you realize there’s a serious difficulty. I don’t know the reasons, I think each person lives a different reality in each club. What I think is that you have to pay a price sometimes, put in your head that you’ll have to start things over again, forget that won the league in Brazil, that you won Libertadores, you have to put it aside and get a fresh start.
When I went to England, I thought that way, I had to start again, conquer my space at the club, learn a new language, a new culture, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I believe than when you leave, everyone that leaves the country, especially to play abroad, know they’ll face difficulties. If when the first problem comes - for example, learning the language, which is one of the factors that turns the adaptation more difficult - you feel down and want to go back, you will not see any benefits from the move, it shows it wasn’t worth leaving, you should have stayed in Brazil.
In the first World Cup you played, your place in the starting XI happened because of a tragic accident with Emerson, where he broke his arm. How was your night, knowing you would start with the team?
First I’d like to let something very clear, that for the group the accident on the day before the match was very tragic, we lost our captain. He was very important for the group. When I was picked up by Felipao, he and Murtosa went to my room and told me I’d start, they were very calm with me, made me feel at ease, told me to do what I was already doing at Atlético, that if I did what I did at Atlético, they’d be happy already. I believe that in a certain way I managed to do what they expected from me.
What is it like to be world champion and to be considered one of the main leaders of the squad?
It’s a fantastic feeling, practically impossible to be described, and for me, the best things of it all, was arriving at Brazil and really feel what it meant, what it meant for the entire country, and there you are, representing all that people, let’s put it this way, you carry the responsibility, through football, in your shoulders, and you only know what everything you achieved really means when you arrive at your country.
So it’s something that can’t be described, but every now and then, memories come back to your mind, you think about everything you have lived, days, moments in training, the moment when you arrived at the country, the moment of the final whistle, some moments during the match. Sometimes you feel a chill down your spine, it’s even scary to think about it. It’s been 8 years and I still shiver when I recall those moments.
In 2006, many people said the team lacked desire, how do you deal wish such criticism? Do you really feel it lacked, not for you but for some of your teammates or do you think it was a different match that you just couldn’t win?
When it comes to Brazil, where we have such high expectations about the NT, sometimes the demands aren’t very fair, are they? When Brazil plays, we have to win everything, and because of this, even us players have great demands for ourselves, we are never satisfied with 2nd, 3rd place, something that is very valuable out here. I disagree with many things that were said, I think no one goes to a World Cup with lack of desire,with thoughts of not wanting to win, because everyone makes sacrifices, stays apart from the family for so long.
What really happened in that match wasn’t much different from how we played during the entire World Cup, we didn’t have a good WC, the NT itself didn’t play well, we didn’t get things going how we got in 2002, where we had a tough debut match against Turkey but then the team managed to get things going well, even when Felipao made some changes, everything went fine. In 2006 it was different, the team didn’t manage to play as well as we played in the Confederations Cup in the previous year. We know it’s a responsibility we need to carry, we can’t run away from it, but it wasn’t because we lacked desire to win it,I don’t think anyone enters the pitch, especially in a World Cup, with this type of thought. Unfortunately, I have to recognize we didn’t play well, France was better, they knew how to press us on your side of the pitch and we couldn’t develop our good football during the match.