Interview

'I just wanted to play football'

As he approaches yet another Champions League final, Casemiro sits down to discuss his journey from the São Paulo streets to the Stade de France

Tell us about your introduction to football.

I’ve got great memories of that time. You should never forget your beginnings, your values and where you’ve come from. I’m very proud to say that I’m from São José dos Campos, that all my family and friends are from there. I visit it whenever I can during my holidays. All the values I have in life come from there.

Was the dream to be a footballer?

Every boy, especially every Brazilian boy who grows up watching and playing football, dreams about becoming a footballer. But back then I was hardly dreaming about Real Madrid or the Champions League. My mind was in Brazil – I thought of playing locally to support my family. Of course, everyone dreams about joining the biggest club in the world, but you often think that’s almost impossible. So I’m sure if I’ve come this far it’s because a dream came true.

Your earliest coach, Milton Moreira, often speaks of how he saw your potential as a boy. How influential has he been?

So my parents were divorced and I didn’t have a father figure growing up. I always lived with my mother, and she always took care of us. Because she worked, she didn’t have the time to take us to football, nor to spend time with us during the day. Moreira was very important at the beginning of my career. First for my own upbringing, for the person I’ve become. On top of welcoming me in, he also gave me values. To this day I’m in touch with him and I talk to him, ask him for advice. We speak every week. So he is one the key people in my life. Both he and my mother were instrumental in my upbringing.

So he was your father figure?

I respect him as a father for having helped me, for the way he treated me, for having instilled values in me. Sometimes he’d tell me off like a father does, so he was definitely like a father to me.

He has that he still gets emotional when he sees you play. Why do you think that is?

He has a football school and he wants everybody to get to the highest possible level, which is playing for Brazil or a team like Real Madrid. He wants every child to get that far. I think the reason he gets emotional is because he does this for all the other kids. He does this for love, because he truly enjoys it. He’s not driven by greed or any personal interest, but by the idea of helping others.

What do you make of the kids in his school wanting to become the next Casemiro, instead of the next Pelé or Ronaldinho?

Well, first I’m very happy. I’ve been in their position. By opening doors you give hope to other people – especially those in São José, and similar towns in São Paulo. You give them the hope that they can do it, that they can get to the top of the world. So that’s definitely the most important thing. You need to be a bit lucky, but also competent and willing to work because it’s difficult. You need to be prepared for when your time comes.

Casemiro is a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid.

At the São Paulo Academy you met another coach, Bruno Petri. What can you say about him?

Bruno was a very important person to me. Mainly in the beginning, as soon as I joined. I had hepatitis so I couldn't play for a while. He was the person who took me in and helped me a lot. I learned a lot from him as a player, tactically, but there’s no doubt that my relationship with him is more than him having just been my coach. I’m very grateful to him.

He was the one who thought you could become a defensive midfielder. What was the transition like?

I didn’t want to play in one position, I just wanted to play football and be on the pitch. Even at school with Moreira, if the older players were needing a full-back, I filled in. If they needed a goalkeeper, I was there; if they need a striker, I was there. Regardless of the position, it made me happy. I learned a lot with Bruno as a defensive midfielder; he helped me become an expert. He was the one who helped me to specialise in that role.

Casemiro has developed into one of Europe's best defensive midfielders.

Real Madrid are synonymous with the Champions League and many players in the team have won it before. Is the hunger still there?

For sure. If you want to be at the highest level you have to prove that every day. At Real Madrid, that’s the standard.

Lastly, if you could speak to a five-year-old version of yourself, what would you say to him?

I’d say, “You’ve made it, you managed to get to the place you’ve always dreamt of getting to, but you’re only 30 and you can achieve more. You’ve given hope to the people of São José dos Campos; you’ve opened the doors to other people. You’re living the dream.”

Tell us about your introduction to football.

I’ve got great memories of that time. You should never forget your beginnings, your values and where you’ve come from. I’m very proud to say that I’m from São José dos Campos, that all my family and friends are from there. I visit it whenever I can during my holidays. All the values I have in life come from there.

Was the dream to be a footballer?

Every boy, especially every Brazilian boy who grows up watching and playing football, dreams about becoming a footballer. But back then I was hardly dreaming about Real Madrid or the Champions League. My mind was in Brazil – I thought of playing locally to support my family. Of course, everyone dreams about joining the biggest club in the world, but you often think that’s almost impossible. So I’m sure if I’ve come this far it’s because a dream came true.

Your earliest coach, Milton Moreira, often speaks of how he saw your potential as a boy. How influential has he been?

So my parents were divorced and I didn’t have a father figure growing up. I always lived with my mother, and she always took care of us. Because she worked, she didn’t have the time to take us to football, nor to spend time with us during the day. Moreira was very important at the beginning of my career. First for my own upbringing, for the person I’ve become. On top of welcoming me in, he also gave me values. To this day I’m in touch with him and I talk to him, ask him for advice. We speak every week. So he is one the key people in my life. Both he and my mother were instrumental in my upbringing.

So he was your father figure?

I respect him as a father for having helped me, for the way he treated me, for having instilled values in me. Sometimes he’d tell me off like a father does, so he was definitely like a father to me.

He has that he still gets emotional when he sees you play. Why do you think that is?

He has a football school and he wants everybody to get to the highest possible level, which is playing for Brazil or a team like Real Madrid. He wants every child to get that far. I think the reason he gets emotional is because he does this for all the other kids. He does this for love, because he truly enjoys it. He’s not driven by greed or any personal interest, but by the idea of helping others.

What do you make of the kids in his school wanting to become the next Casemiro, instead of the next Pelé or Ronaldinho?

Well, first I’m very happy. I’ve been in their position. By opening doors you give hope to other people – especially those in São José, and similar towns in São Paulo. You give them the hope that they can do it, that they can get to the top of the world. So that’s definitely the most important thing. You need to be a bit lucky, but also competent and willing to work because it’s difficult. You need to be prepared for when your time comes.

Casemiro is a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid.

At the São Paulo Academy you met another coach, Bruno Petri. What can you say about him?

Bruno was a very important person to me. Mainly in the beginning, as soon as I joined. I had hepatitis so I couldn't play for a while. He was the person who took me in and helped me a lot. I learned a lot from him as a player, tactically, but there’s no doubt that my relationship with him is more than him having just been my coach. I’m very grateful to him.

He was the one who thought you could become a defensive midfielder. What was the transition like?

I didn’t want to play in one position, I just wanted to play football and be on the pitch. Even at school with Moreira, if the older players were needing a full-back, I filled in. If they needed a goalkeeper, I was there; if they need a striker, I was there. Regardless of the position, it made me happy. I learned a lot with Bruno as a defensive midfielder; he helped me become an expert. He was the one who helped me to specialise in that role.

Casemiro has developed into one of Europe's best defensive midfielders.

Real Madrid are synonymous with the Champions League and many players in the team have won it before. Is the hunger still there?

For sure. If you want to be at the highest level you have to prove that every day. At Real Madrid, that’s the standard.

Lastly, if you could speak to a five-year-old version of yourself, what would you say to him?

I’d say, “You’ve made it, you managed to get to the place you’ve always dreamt of getting to, but you’re only 30 and you can achieve more. You’ve given hope to the people of São José dos Campos; you’ve opened the doors to other people. You’re living the dream.”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Tell us about your introduction to football.

I’ve got great memories of that time. You should never forget your beginnings, your values and where you’ve come from. I’m very proud to say that I’m from São José dos Campos, that all my family and friends are from there. I visit it whenever I can during my holidays. All the values I have in life come from there.

Was the dream to be a footballer?

Every boy, especially every Brazilian boy who grows up watching and playing football, dreams about becoming a footballer. But back then I was hardly dreaming about Real Madrid or the Champions League. My mind was in Brazil – I thought of playing locally to support my family. Of course, everyone dreams about joining the biggest club in the world, but you often think that’s almost impossible. So I’m sure if I’ve come this far it’s because a dream came true.

Your earliest coach, Milton Moreira, often speaks of how he saw your potential as a boy. How influential has he been?

So my parents were divorced and I didn’t have a father figure growing up. I always lived with my mother, and she always took care of us. Because she worked, she didn’t have the time to take us to football, nor to spend time with us during the day. Moreira was very important at the beginning of my career. First for my own upbringing, for the person I’ve become. On top of welcoming me in, he also gave me values. To this day I’m in touch with him and I talk to him, ask him for advice. We speak every week. So he is one the key people in my life. Both he and my mother were instrumental in my upbringing.

So he was your father figure?

I respect him as a father for having helped me, for the way he treated me, for having instilled values in me. Sometimes he’d tell me off like a father does, so he was definitely like a father to me.

He has that he still gets emotional when he sees you play. Why do you think that is?

He has a football school and he wants everybody to get to the highest possible level, which is playing for Brazil or a team like Real Madrid. He wants every child to get that far. I think the reason he gets emotional is because he does this for all the other kids. He does this for love, because he truly enjoys it. He’s not driven by greed or any personal interest, but by the idea of helping others.

What do you make of the kids in his school wanting to become the next Casemiro, instead of the next Pelé or Ronaldinho?

Well, first I’m very happy. I’ve been in their position. By opening doors you give hope to other people – especially those in São José, and similar towns in São Paulo. You give them the hope that they can do it, that they can get to the top of the world. So that’s definitely the most important thing. You need to be a bit lucky, but also competent and willing to work because it’s difficult. You need to be prepared for when your time comes.

Casemiro is a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid.

At the São Paulo Academy you met another coach, Bruno Petri. What can you say about him?

Bruno was a very important person to me. Mainly in the beginning, as soon as I joined. I had hepatitis so I couldn't play for a while. He was the person who took me in and helped me a lot. I learned a lot from him as a player, tactically, but there’s no doubt that my relationship with him is more than him having just been my coach. I’m very grateful to him.

He was the one who thought you could become a defensive midfielder. What was the transition like?

I didn’t want to play in one position, I just wanted to play football and be on the pitch. Even at school with Moreira, if the older players were needing a full-back, I filled in. If they needed a goalkeeper, I was there; if they need a striker, I was there. Regardless of the position, it made me happy. I learned a lot with Bruno as a defensive midfielder; he helped me become an expert. He was the one who helped me to specialise in that role.

Casemiro has developed into one of Europe's best defensive midfielders.

Real Madrid are synonymous with the Champions League and many players in the team have won it before. Is the hunger still there?

For sure. If you want to be at the highest level you have to prove that every day. At Real Madrid, that’s the standard.

Lastly, if you could speak to a five-year-old version of yourself, what would you say to him?

I’d say, “You’ve made it, you managed to get to the place you’ve always dreamt of getting to, but you’re only 30 and you can achieve more. You’ve given hope to the people of São José dos Campos; you’ve opened the doors to other people. You’re living the dream.”

'I just wanted to play football'
Interview

'I just wanted to play football'

As he approaches yet another Champions League final, Casemiro sits down to discuss his journey from the São Paulo streets to the Stade de France

Tell us about your introduction to football.

I’ve got great memories of that time. You should never forget your beginnings, your values and where you’ve come from. I’m very proud to say that I’m from São José dos Campos, that all my family and friends are from there. I visit it whenever I can during my holidays. All the values I have in life come from there.

Was the dream to be a footballer?

Every boy, especially every Brazilian boy who grows up watching and playing football, dreams about becoming a footballer. But back then I was hardly dreaming about Real Madrid or the Champions League. My mind was in Brazil – I thought of playing locally to support my family. Of course, everyone dreams about joining the biggest club in the world, but you often think that’s almost impossible. So I’m sure if I’ve come this far it’s because a dream came true.

Your earliest coach, Milton Moreira, often speaks of how he saw your potential as a boy. How influential has he been?

So my parents were divorced and I didn’t have a father figure growing up. I always lived with my mother, and she always took care of us. Because she worked, she didn’t have the time to take us to football, nor to spend time with us during the day. Moreira was very important at the beginning of my career. First for my own upbringing, for the person I’ve become. On top of welcoming me in, he also gave me values. To this day I’m in touch with him and I talk to him, ask him for advice. We speak every week. So he is one the key people in my life. Both he and my mother were instrumental in my upbringing.

So he was your father figure?

I respect him as a father for having helped me, for the way he treated me, for having instilled values in me. Sometimes he’d tell me off like a father does, so he was definitely like a father to me.

He has that he still gets emotional when he sees you play. Why do you think that is?

He has a football school and he wants everybody to get to the highest possible level, which is playing for Brazil or a team like Real Madrid. He wants every child to get that far. I think the reason he gets emotional is because he does this for all the other kids. He does this for love, because he truly enjoys it. He’s not driven by greed or any personal interest, but by the idea of helping others.

What do you make of the kids in his school wanting to become the next Casemiro, instead of the next Pelé or Ronaldinho?

Well, first I’m very happy. I’ve been in their position. By opening doors you give hope to other people – especially those in São José, and similar towns in São Paulo. You give them the hope that they can do it, that they can get to the top of the world. So that’s definitely the most important thing. You need to be a bit lucky, but also competent and willing to work because it’s difficult. You need to be prepared for when your time comes.

Casemiro is a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid.

At the São Paulo Academy you met another coach, Bruno Petri. What can you say about him?

Bruno was a very important person to me. Mainly in the beginning, as soon as I joined. I had hepatitis so I couldn't play for a while. He was the person who took me in and helped me a lot. I learned a lot from him as a player, tactically, but there’s no doubt that my relationship with him is more than him having just been my coach. I’m very grateful to him.

He was the one who thought you could become a defensive midfielder. What was the transition like?

I didn’t want to play in one position, I just wanted to play football and be on the pitch. Even at school with Moreira, if the older players were needing a full-back, I filled in. If they needed a goalkeeper, I was there; if they need a striker, I was there. Regardless of the position, it made me happy. I learned a lot with Bruno as a defensive midfielder; he helped me become an expert. He was the one who helped me to specialise in that role.

Casemiro has developed into one of Europe's best defensive midfielders.

Real Madrid are synonymous with the Champions League and many players in the team have won it before. Is the hunger still there?

For sure. If you want to be at the highest level you have to prove that every day. At Real Madrid, that’s the standard.

Lastly, if you could speak to a five-year-old version of yourself, what would you say to him?

I’d say, “You’ve made it, you managed to get to the place you’ve always dreamt of getting to, but you’re only 30 and you can achieve more. You’ve given hope to the people of São José dos Campos; you’ve opened the doors to other people. You’re living the dream.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Tell us about your introduction to football.

I’ve got great memories of that time. You should never forget your beginnings, your values and where you’ve come from. I’m very proud to say that I’m from São José dos Campos, that all my family and friends are from there. I visit it whenever I can during my holidays. All the values I have in life come from there.

Was the dream to be a footballer?

Every boy, especially every Brazilian boy who grows up watching and playing football, dreams about becoming a footballer. But back then I was hardly dreaming about Real Madrid or the Champions League. My mind was in Brazil – I thought of playing locally to support my family. Of course, everyone dreams about joining the biggest club in the world, but you often think that’s almost impossible. So I’m sure if I’ve come this far it’s because a dream came true.

Your earliest coach, Milton Moreira, often speaks of how he saw your potential as a boy. How influential has he been?

So my parents were divorced and I didn’t have a father figure growing up. I always lived with my mother, and she always took care of us. Because she worked, she didn’t have the time to take us to football, nor to spend time with us during the day. Moreira was very important at the beginning of my career. First for my own upbringing, for the person I’ve become. On top of welcoming me in, he also gave me values. To this day I’m in touch with him and I talk to him, ask him for advice. We speak every week. So he is one the key people in my life. Both he and my mother were instrumental in my upbringing.

So he was your father figure?

I respect him as a father for having helped me, for the way he treated me, for having instilled values in me. Sometimes he’d tell me off like a father does, so he was definitely like a father to me.

He has that he still gets emotional when he sees you play. Why do you think that is?

He has a football school and he wants everybody to get to the highest possible level, which is playing for Brazil or a team like Real Madrid. He wants every child to get that far. I think the reason he gets emotional is because he does this for all the other kids. He does this for love, because he truly enjoys it. He’s not driven by greed or any personal interest, but by the idea of helping others.

What do you make of the kids in his school wanting to become the next Casemiro, instead of the next Pelé or Ronaldinho?

Well, first I’m very happy. I’ve been in their position. By opening doors you give hope to other people – especially those in São José, and similar towns in São Paulo. You give them the hope that they can do it, that they can get to the top of the world. So that’s definitely the most important thing. You need to be a bit lucky, but also competent and willing to work because it’s difficult. You need to be prepared for when your time comes.

Casemiro is a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid.

At the São Paulo Academy you met another coach, Bruno Petri. What can you say about him?

Bruno was a very important person to me. Mainly in the beginning, as soon as I joined. I had hepatitis so I couldn't play for a while. He was the person who took me in and helped me a lot. I learned a lot from him as a player, tactically, but there’s no doubt that my relationship with him is more than him having just been my coach. I’m very grateful to him.

He was the one who thought you could become a defensive midfielder. What was the transition like?

I didn’t want to play in one position, I just wanted to play football and be on the pitch. Even at school with Moreira, if the older players were needing a full-back, I filled in. If they needed a goalkeeper, I was there; if they need a striker, I was there. Regardless of the position, it made me happy. I learned a lot with Bruno as a defensive midfielder; he helped me become an expert. He was the one who helped me to specialise in that role.

Casemiro has developed into one of Europe's best defensive midfielders.

Real Madrid are synonymous with the Champions League and many players in the team have won it before. Is the hunger still there?

For sure. If you want to be at the highest level you have to prove that every day. At Real Madrid, that’s the standard.

Lastly, if you could speak to a five-year-old version of yourself, what would you say to him?

I’d say, “You’ve made it, you managed to get to the place you’ve always dreamt of getting to, but you’re only 30 and you can achieve more. You’ve given hope to the people of São José dos Campos; you’ve opened the doors to other people. You’re living the dream.”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Tell us about your introduction to football.

I’ve got great memories of that time. You should never forget your beginnings, your values and where you’ve come from. I’m very proud to say that I’m from São José dos Campos, that all my family and friends are from there. I visit it whenever I can during my holidays. All the values I have in life come from there.

Was the dream to be a footballer?

Every boy, especially every Brazilian boy who grows up watching and playing football, dreams about becoming a footballer. But back then I was hardly dreaming about Real Madrid or the Champions League. My mind was in Brazil – I thought of playing locally to support my family. Of course, everyone dreams about joining the biggest club in the world, but you often think that’s almost impossible. So I’m sure if I’ve come this far it’s because a dream came true.

Your earliest coach, Milton Moreira, often speaks of how he saw your potential as a boy. How influential has he been?

So my parents were divorced and I didn’t have a father figure growing up. I always lived with my mother, and she always took care of us. Because she worked, she didn’t have the time to take us to football, nor to spend time with us during the day. Moreira was very important at the beginning of my career. First for my own upbringing, for the person I’ve become. On top of welcoming me in, he also gave me values. To this day I’m in touch with him and I talk to him, ask him for advice. We speak every week. So he is one the key people in my life. Both he and my mother were instrumental in my upbringing.

So he was your father figure?

I respect him as a father for having helped me, for the way he treated me, for having instilled values in me. Sometimes he’d tell me off like a father does, so he was definitely like a father to me.

He has that he still gets emotional when he sees you play. Why do you think that is?

He has a football school and he wants everybody to get to the highest possible level, which is playing for Brazil or a team like Real Madrid. He wants every child to get that far. I think the reason he gets emotional is because he does this for all the other kids. He does this for love, because he truly enjoys it. He’s not driven by greed or any personal interest, but by the idea of helping others.

What do you make of the kids in his school wanting to become the next Casemiro, instead of the next Pelé or Ronaldinho?

Well, first I’m very happy. I’ve been in their position. By opening doors you give hope to other people – especially those in São José, and similar towns in São Paulo. You give them the hope that they can do it, that they can get to the top of the world. So that’s definitely the most important thing. You need to be a bit lucky, but also competent and willing to work because it’s difficult. You need to be prepared for when your time comes.

Casemiro is a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid.

At the São Paulo Academy you met another coach, Bruno Petri. What can you say about him?

Bruno was a very important person to me. Mainly in the beginning, as soon as I joined. I had hepatitis so I couldn't play for a while. He was the person who took me in and helped me a lot. I learned a lot from him as a player, tactically, but there’s no doubt that my relationship with him is more than him having just been my coach. I’m very grateful to him.

He was the one who thought you could become a defensive midfielder. What was the transition like?

I didn’t want to play in one position, I just wanted to play football and be on the pitch. Even at school with Moreira, if the older players were needing a full-back, I filled in. If they needed a goalkeeper, I was there; if they need a striker, I was there. Regardless of the position, it made me happy. I learned a lot with Bruno as a defensive midfielder; he helped me become an expert. He was the one who helped me to specialise in that role.

Casemiro has developed into one of Europe's best defensive midfielders.

Real Madrid are synonymous with the Champions League and many players in the team have won it before. Is the hunger still there?

For sure. If you want to be at the highest level you have to prove that every day. At Real Madrid, that’s the standard.

Lastly, if you could speak to a five-year-old version of yourself, what would you say to him?

I’d say, “You’ve made it, you managed to get to the place you’ve always dreamt of getting to, but you’re only 30 and you can achieve more. You’ve given hope to the people of São José dos Campos; you’ve opened the doors to other people. You’re living the dream.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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