My Greatest Goal
Meet the teenage striker who’s the brightest young Brazilian talent around right now
You’re only 19 years old, but you’ve already become one of Brazil’s biggest stars. How has it happened? Yes, things have happened very quickly so far. I’ve been a professional footballer since I was 16 years old, imagine that... I didn’t have so many opportunities in the Santos first team in my first year, but when the chance came I proved myself with good performances. After my first goal for Santos, people started paying more attention to my qualities. I feel confident and happy to be established now.
Are you a fan of your ‘Gabigol’ nickname?
Of course I like it! It’s not bad for a forward to have ‘gol’ in their name, is it? It comes from the youth teams, when I used to play futsal. There were several Gabriels in the squad and people needed to identify all of us properly. I was the one scoring goals, so I became Gabigol. I used it straight away on my social networks.
Who’s your biggest idol in football?
I’m a big fan of Cristiano Ronaldo. He never gives up, he’s always trying to help his team and he scores a couple of goals every now and then.
You’ve been called ‘the new Neymar’ by the English media in England. Is that accurate?
I appreciate that – it’s a great compliment – but there are no comparisons between us at all. He’s an established player in Europe – the best footballer in the world in my opinion. But I’m trying to write my own story. Hopefully I can achieve something near to what Neymar’s done. That’s my dream, I must say.
You’re in Brazil’s squad for the Olympics. Are you looking forward to playing alongside Neymar there?
Yes. I didn’t have the pleasure of playing with Neymar in Santos. Actually, I did for about 20 minutes – my debut for Santos was his farewell.
What would winning an Olympic gold medal mean to you?
It’s a huge thing in Brazil, no doubt, because it’s the only trophy that Brazilian football is still missing from our cabinet. People dream of winning the gold medal in football, especially because we are playing on home soil. I couldn’t be happier, being part of the Selecao, and it’s one of my personal dreams to become Olympic champion.
Is it true that you rejected a big offer from China earlier this year?
I did receive a good offer from Chinese football, but I decided it was not the time for it. There’s no doubt the best leagues are in Europe. The level in Europe is very high and I like to watch all of the European leagues.
What do you think of the Premier League?
The Premier League has its own pace and power, which is beautiful to see. I love the league. In the past people said that the English teams didn’t play attractive football, but it’s not true these days. I’m sure I would adapt to the Premier League without a problem.
What do you think of the new Brazilian national team manager, Tite? You made your first tournament appearance recently at the Copa America – are you confident of being part of the squad for the 2018 World Cup, too?
Tite has done a brilliant job at club level and deserves this opportunity. I’m working hard to be part of his squad. Brazil might not be in our best moment – we all know that – but I’m looking forward to being part of this new stage of the Selecao. It’s one of my dreams to help Brazil to qualify for the World Cup in 2018 and then have the chance to go to Russia and play for my country in the biggest event on Earth.
"BRAZIL MIGHT NOT BE IN OUR BEST MOMENT, WE ALL KNOW THAT, BUT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS NEW STAGE OF THE SELECAO"