Interview

'I know I'm good'

Vinícius Júnior is making a name for himself at Real Madrid, determined to repay the faith that was shown in a 16-year-old boy from Rio de Janeiro. Here he talks to Champions Journal about his journey to the top – and the example set by a certain Cristiano Ronaldo

WORDS Chris Burke | INTERVIEW Caroline de Moraes

“Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?” The stirring, unforgettable words of Vinícius Júnior: winger for Real Madrid, general of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius.

Not quite – and it’s not like the gifted Brazilian really needs to ask. Although he does actually share a name with a Roman general: one Marcus Vinicius, battle hardened in Germania back in the day. It’s a name that can also be found on any good list of ‘gladiator baby names’ (yes, such things do exist). This particular gladiator does battle on the pitch rather than the colosseum, of course; the young livewire dribbles with more glee than a newborn, as well as displaying adhesive control, dizzying acceleration and highlight-reel panache.

His team-mates appreciate his situation and are keen to do their bit to help. “Vini is a very young player,” said Karim Benzema. “I believe in him because he has what it takes to succeed. This is why I talk a lot with him on the pitch; sometimes it’s a little loud, but that is because he can give more. Because when he wants to be, he is a phenomenon.”

Benzema isn’t the only senior star supporting Vinícius, as he’s previously explained. “We can see that they are worried about us younger players, because we are the present and future of Real Madrid. All of my colleagues are very focused, but their work ethic pushes me harder and harder.”

Vinícius has already clocked up 118 appearances for Madrid. In March he became the fourth youngest player in the club’s history to reach a century, behind only Raúl González, José Antonio Camacho and Iker Casillas – Madrid icons all. And he would have got there sooner had it not been for a knee injury in 2019, just as he was establishing himself as a starter under coach Santiago Solari, the man who quickly warmed to his quality performances in the reserves.

Vinícius can also point to four goals in his 21 Champions League outings so far. In comparison, Ronaldo failed to register in his first 26 games in the competition, eventually breaking his duck aged 22. The Portugal star also had to work hard to establish himself at Manchester United in his early years, making him a perfect example to follow – and Vinícius knows it. He showed as much by imitating Ronaldo’s trademark goal celebration after scoring against Barcelona in 2020, but also by hiring a personal chef and personal fitness trainer last year, as well as installing a gym at his house. He follows the ‘Cristiano method’, a rigorous routine that transformed Ronaldo from a wispy winger into a force of nature, still going strong at 36.

“I work hard at home and at the club, but I think the work I do at home is so worth it,” says Vinícius, of whom the Instagram pics are rife to prove he has bulked up. “I spend so many hours thinking, watching videos, doing physio. Or work to prevent injuries, because no player wants to get injured and miss games. And that doesn’t happen by chance – rather, through hard work and dedication, which I put in to be at my best level possible.”

“I WAS ALWAYS ON THE STREETS; I’D FORGET TO GO HOME TO EAT. I WANTED TO SPEND THE WHOLE DAY PLAYING”
By

Signs that the hard work is paying off  are really not that hard to find. You couldn’t help but marvel at his match-winning performance against Liverpool in April, when he managed a feat that still eludes his team-mate Eden Hazard at the age of 30: scoring twice in a Champions League knockout game. His first goal in the quarter-final opener was a glorious amalgam of what he does best: he spurted forward from the centre circle and cushioned Toni Kroos’s diagonal pass on his chest, a deft move that carried him between Liverpool’s centre-backs; that allowed him to fire beyond Alisson Becker without breaking stride. The second, a swivel and first-touch strike, looked every bit as natural. It also secured the end product of a 3-1 victory and progression to the semis.

“They were surely the most important goals in my career,” says Vinícius. “To have helped by scoring those two goals and getting the team into the semi-finals is the best feeling – getting home and knowing that I did what I’ve been working on in training all season. And being so young, in such a tough year because of the pandemic, playing without any fans… it was very special.”

The headline in Diario AS was pretty memorable too. ‘Vini, Vidi, Vici’ proclaimed the Spanish daily, summoning the spirit of another Roman general. And Vinícius has already done some conquering of his own, not least playing his part in a Liga title and Spanish Super Cup win in 2019/20, plus the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup. Now it’s time for the next stage of his career, bookmarked by a new manager at Real in the shape of Carlo Ancelotti. Vinícius will have a new conquest in mind as a result: impress the returning coach and make himself indispensable at the Bernabéu.

“I’m much more mature now,” says Vinícius. “I can understand the game better, understand when to attack opponents, and that evolves and gets better with every season, so that I can get to the highest possible level – which is to be among the top players in the world. Now I’m a completely different player, but with the same characteristics as before.”

Can he establish himself as the regular match winner that a club like Madrid demands, without losing the freewheeling swagger that first grabbed their attention? Ronaldo did; Vinícius believes he can too. “I think my style suits every team’s style, just as the Brazilian style suits every team’s style around the world. I will never change my way of playing and I’ll always try to keep doing what I did when I started.”

Look out for a shoulder feint and burst of pace towards greatness; Vinícius is on a mission. “I love playing football, I love being on the pitch and it’s the best place to keep learning.”

This should be entertaining.

Read the full story
This is an extract from an article in issue
08
of Champions Journal. Get your copy to read the full story.
Get your copy
Interview

'I know I'm good'

Vinícius Júnior is making a name for himself at Real Madrid, determined to repay the faith that was shown in a 16-year-old boy from Rio de Janeiro. Here he talks to Champions Journal about his journey to the top – and the example set by a certain Cristiano Ronaldo

WORDS Chris Burke | INTERVIEW Caroline de Moraes

“Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?” The stirring, unforgettable words of Vinícius Júnior: winger for Real Madrid, general of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius.

Not quite – and it’s not like the gifted Brazilian really needs to ask. Although he does actually share a name with a Roman general: one Marcus Vinicius, battle hardened in Germania back in the day. It’s a name that can also be found on any good list of ‘gladiator baby names’ (yes, such things do exist). This particular gladiator does battle on the pitch rather than the colosseum, of course; the young livewire dribbles with more glee than a newborn, as well as displaying adhesive control, dizzying acceleration and highlight-reel panache.

His team-mates appreciate his situation and are keen to do their bit to help. “Vini is a very young player,” said Karim Benzema. “I believe in him because he has what it takes to succeed. This is why I talk a lot with him on the pitch; sometimes it’s a little loud, but that is because he can give more. Because when he wants to be, he is a phenomenon.”

Benzema isn’t the only senior star supporting Vinícius, as he’s previously explained. “We can see that they are worried about us younger players, because we are the present and future of Real Madrid. All of my colleagues are very focused, but their work ethic pushes me harder and harder.”

Vinícius has already clocked up 118 appearances for Madrid. In March he became the fourth youngest player in the club’s history to reach a century, behind only Raúl González, José Antonio Camacho and Iker Casillas – Madrid icons all. And he would have got there sooner had it not been for a knee injury in 2019, just as he was establishing himself as a starter under coach Santiago Solari, the man who quickly warmed to his quality performances in the reserves.

Vinícius can also point to four goals in his 21 Champions League outings so far. In comparison, Ronaldo failed to register in his first 26 games in the competition, eventually breaking his duck aged 22. The Portugal star also had to work hard to establish himself at Manchester United in his early years, making him a perfect example to follow – and Vinícius knows it. He showed as much by imitating Ronaldo’s trademark goal celebration after scoring against Barcelona in 2020, but also by hiring a personal chef and personal fitness trainer last year, as well as installing a gym at his house. He follows the ‘Cristiano method’, a rigorous routine that transformed Ronaldo from a wispy winger into a force of nature, still going strong at 36.

“I work hard at home and at the club, but I think the work I do at home is so worth it,” says Vinícius, of whom the Instagram pics are rife to prove he has bulked up. “I spend so many hours thinking, watching videos, doing physio. Or work to prevent injuries, because no player wants to get injured and miss games. And that doesn’t happen by chance – rather, through hard work and dedication, which I put in to be at my best level possible.”

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!
“I WAS ALWAYS ON THE STREETS; I’D FORGET TO GO HOME TO EAT. I WANTED TO SPEND THE WHOLE DAY PLAYING”
By

Signs that the hard work is paying off  are really not that hard to find. You couldn’t help but marvel at his match-winning performance against Liverpool in April, when he managed a feat that still eludes his team-mate Eden Hazard at the age of 30: scoring twice in a Champions League knockout game. His first goal in the quarter-final opener was a glorious amalgam of what he does best: he spurted forward from the centre circle and cushioned Toni Kroos’s diagonal pass on his chest, a deft move that carried him between Liverpool’s centre-backs; that allowed him to fire beyond Alisson Becker without breaking stride. The second, a swivel and first-touch strike, looked every bit as natural. It also secured the end product of a 3-1 victory and progression to the semis.

“They were surely the most important goals in my career,” says Vinícius. “To have helped by scoring those two goals and getting the team into the semi-finals is the best feeling – getting home and knowing that I did what I’ve been working on in training all season. And being so young, in such a tough year because of the pandemic, playing without any fans… it was very special.”

The headline in Diario AS was pretty memorable too. ‘Vini, Vidi, Vici’ proclaimed the Spanish daily, summoning the spirit of another Roman general. And Vinícius has already done some conquering of his own, not least playing his part in a Liga title and Spanish Super Cup win in 2019/20, plus the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup. Now it’s time for the next stage of his career, bookmarked by a new manager at Real in the shape of Carlo Ancelotti. Vinícius will have a new conquest in mind as a result: impress the returning coach and make himself indispensable at the Bernabéu.

“I’m much more mature now,” says Vinícius. “I can understand the game better, understand when to attack opponents, and that evolves and gets better with every season, so that I can get to the highest possible level – which is to be among the top players in the world. Now I’m a completely different player, but with the same characteristics as before.”

Can he establish himself as the regular match winner that a club like Madrid demands, without losing the freewheeling swagger that first grabbed their attention? Ronaldo did; Vinícius believes he can too. “I think my style suits every team’s style, just as the Brazilian style suits every team’s style around the world. I will never change my way of playing and I’ll always try to keep doing what I did when I started.”

Look out for a shoulder feint and burst of pace towards greatness; Vinícius is on a mission. “I love playing football, I love being on the pitch and it’s the best place to keep learning.”

This should be entertaining.

Interview

'I know I'm good'

Vinícius Júnior is making a name for himself at Real Madrid, determined to repay the faith that was shown in a 16-year-old boy from Rio de Janeiro. Here he talks to Champions Journal about his journey to the top – and the example set by a certain Cristiano Ronaldo

WORDS Chris Burke | INTERVIEW Caroline de Moraes

“Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?” The stirring, unforgettable words of Vinícius Júnior: winger for Real Madrid, general of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius.

Not quite – and it’s not like the gifted Brazilian really needs to ask. Although he does actually share a name with a Roman general: one Marcus Vinicius, battle hardened in Germania back in the day. It’s a name that can also be found on any good list of ‘gladiator baby names’ (yes, such things do exist). This particular gladiator does battle on the pitch rather than the colosseum, of course; the young livewire dribbles with more glee than a newborn, as well as displaying adhesive control, dizzying acceleration and highlight-reel panache.

His team-mates appreciate his situation and are keen to do their bit to help. “Vini is a very young player,” said Karim Benzema. “I believe in him because he has what it takes to succeed. This is why I talk a lot with him on the pitch; sometimes it’s a little loud, but that is because he can give more. Because when he wants to be, he is a phenomenon.”

Benzema isn’t the only senior star supporting Vinícius, as he’s previously explained. “We can see that they are worried about us younger players, because we are the present and future of Real Madrid. All of my colleagues are very focused, but their work ethic pushes me harder and harder.”

Vinícius has already clocked up 118 appearances for Madrid. In March he became the fourth youngest player in the club’s history to reach a century, behind only Raúl González, José Antonio Camacho and Iker Casillas – Madrid icons all. And he would have got there sooner had it not been for a knee injury in 2019, just as he was establishing himself as a starter under coach Santiago Solari, the man who quickly warmed to his quality performances in the reserves.

Vinícius can also point to four goals in his 21 Champions League outings so far. In comparison, Ronaldo failed to register in his first 26 games in the competition, eventually breaking his duck aged 22. The Portugal star also had to work hard to establish himself at Manchester United in his early years, making him a perfect example to follow – and Vinícius knows it. He showed as much by imitating Ronaldo’s trademark goal celebration after scoring against Barcelona in 2020, but also by hiring a personal chef and personal fitness trainer last year, as well as installing a gym at his house. He follows the ‘Cristiano method’, a rigorous routine that transformed Ronaldo from a wispy winger into a force of nature, still going strong at 36.

“I work hard at home and at the club, but I think the work I do at home is so worth it,” says Vinícius, of whom the Instagram pics are rife to prove he has bulked up. “I spend so many hours thinking, watching videos, doing physio. Or work to prevent injuries, because no player wants to get injured and miss games. And that doesn’t happen by chance – rather, through hard work and dedication, which I put in to be at my best level possible.”

“I WAS ALWAYS ON THE STREETS; I’D FORGET TO GO HOME TO EAT. I WANTED TO SPEND THE WHOLE DAY PLAYING”
By

Signs that the hard work is paying off  are really not that hard to find. You couldn’t help but marvel at his match-winning performance against Liverpool in April, when he managed a feat that still eludes his team-mate Eden Hazard at the age of 30: scoring twice in a Champions League knockout game. His first goal in the quarter-final opener was a glorious amalgam of what he does best: he spurted forward from the centre circle and cushioned Toni Kroos’s diagonal pass on his chest, a deft move that carried him between Liverpool’s centre-backs; that allowed him to fire beyond Alisson Becker without breaking stride. The second, a swivel and first-touch strike, looked every bit as natural. It also secured the end product of a 3-1 victory and progression to the semis.

“They were surely the most important goals in my career,” says Vinícius. “To have helped by scoring those two goals and getting the team into the semi-finals is the best feeling – getting home and knowing that I did what I’ve been working on in training all season. And being so young, in such a tough year because of the pandemic, playing without any fans… it was very special.”

The headline in Diario AS was pretty memorable too. ‘Vini, Vidi, Vici’ proclaimed the Spanish daily, summoning the spirit of another Roman general. And Vinícius has already done some conquering of his own, not least playing his part in a Liga title and Spanish Super Cup win in 2019/20, plus the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup. Now it’s time for the next stage of his career, bookmarked by a new manager at Real in the shape of Carlo Ancelotti. Vinícius will have a new conquest in mind as a result: impress the returning coach and make himself indispensable at the Bernabéu.

“I’m much more mature now,” says Vinícius. “I can understand the game better, understand when to attack opponents, and that evolves and gets better with every season, so that I can get to the highest possible level – which is to be among the top players in the world. Now I’m a completely different player, but with the same characteristics as before.”

Can he establish himself as the regular match winner that a club like Madrid demands, without losing the freewheeling swagger that first grabbed their attention? Ronaldo did; Vinícius believes he can too. “I think my style suits every team’s style, just as the Brazilian style suits every team’s style around the world. I will never change my way of playing and I’ll always try to keep doing what I did when I started.”

Look out for a shoulder feint and burst of pace towards greatness; Vinícius is on a mission. “I love playing football, I love being on the pitch and it’s the best place to keep learning.”

This should be entertaining.

To access this article, as well as all CJ+ content and competitions, you will need a subscription to Champions Journal.
Already a subscriber? Sign in
close
It's your time to decide
Choose which classic final goal you would like to see in Issue 03 of Champions Journal.
Special Offers
christmas offer
Christmas CHEER
Up to 40% off
Start shopping
50% off
game night flash sale!!!
Don't miss out
00
Hours
:
00
minutes
:
00
Seconds
Valid on selected products only. subscriptions not included
close