South Korea’s favourite Son

FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS -

game. When such re­sults hap­pen, there’s al­ways a com­plex mix­ture of facts re­spon­si­ble for it. So when­ever I hear some­one say­ing it was due to a sin­gle rea­son or blam­ing a sin­gle per­son, I feel em­bar­rassed for their poor anal­y­sis.

Were the play­ers still scarred by the ex­pe­ri­ence when you ar­rived? I think we had over­come the de­feat and the fact we didn’t reach the fi­nal at that point, re­gard­less of the me­dia, who like to talk about that de­feat a lot. The me­dia al­ways re­mem­ber it.

How de­mand­ing are the Brazil­ian me­dia? I worked as a pun­dit for a year, so I now un­der­stand the needs of the me­dia. I can ac­cept crit­i­cism of per­for­mances. But there’s one thing I can’t ac­cept, which is mis­in­for­ma­tion, so ev­ery now and then there’s a sit­u­a­tion that makes me an­gry. But over­all, it’s a good re­la­tion­ship. The only prob­lem I give to the Sele­cao press of­fi­cer is af­ter matches. Some­times he has to tell me to calm down be­fore at­tend­ing the press con­fer­ence – it’s dif­fi­cult to keep calm with such adren­a­line! [Laughs]

It’s been re­ported that Luiz Felipe Sco­lari was your school­teacher. Is that re­ally true? It was back in the 1970s. Sco­lari was a pro­fes­sional foot­baller, but also a teacher at a school where he man­aged an un­der-14 team. Ac­tu­ally, I was play­ing for the U14 team at an­other school – we played against each other once and he thought I was a good mid­fielder. Later, I was start­ing a job as an of­fice boy for Volkswagen and Sco­lari came in to buy a car. He recog­nised me, asked, ‘What are you do­ing here, boy?’ and in­vited me for a trial at Cax­ias, the club he was play­ing for. I went, they liked me and I joined their youth team. That’s how I met Sco­lari.

Did your Tite nick­name come from Sco­lari? In my school’s U14 team, the mid­field was Leonardo, Tite and Ade – the last of which was my­self. Ade comes from Ade­nor, my first name. When we played Sco­lari’s team, he was im­pressed but mixed up my name and thought I was called Tite. Then, when he rec­om­mended me to Cax­ias, every­one at the club kept call­ing me Tite. I said, ‘No, guys, I’m Ade!’, but the whole club called me Tite so there was no way back af­ter that. I stole the nick­name from my for­mer team-mate and I’ve been known as Tite ever since...

Would win­ning this sum­mer’s fi­nals in Rus­sia help Ney­mar se­cure the sta­tus of the world’s best player? Well, Lionel Messi and Cris­tiano Ronaldo have both won the Bal­lon d’or sev­eral times but they’ve never won the World Cup. It’s im­pos­si­ble to an­a­lyse in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive per­for­mances by look­ing only at the re­sults. I ob­vi­ously hope that Ney­mar lifts the World Cup in Moscow, but he has the tal­ent to be the best player in the world, re­gard­less of a po­ten­tial ti­tle in Rus­sia.

Will the back in­jury he suf­fered against Colom­bia at the last World Cup give him added in­cen­tive to go the dis­tance this time? He will be as hun­gry as al­ways. I can’t imag­ine how frus­trat­ing it was for him in that mo­ment four years ago, but he has over­come it. All of the top play­ers con­stantly face tough chal­lenges, and even since that in­ci­dent Ney­mar has been through a lot in foot­ball. The in­jury of 2014 is in the past now. Maybe it will pro­vide ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion for him, but I don’t see it be­ing that sig­nif­i­cant.

Do you be­lieve Gabriel Je­sus is the No.9 Brazil have been miss­ing for the past few years? He ob­vi­ously has room to im­prove as a player, but I think he’s al­ways showed a big sense of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ma­tu­rity to deal with big mo­ments. His im­por­tance to the Sele­cao is huge. When you only have a sin­gle player ca­pa­ble of win­ning games in the team, there’s a clear weak­ness. The pres­ence of Gabriel Je­sus helps to im­prove the game of Ney­mar, Wil­lian, Philippe Coutinho and all of our at­tack­ing play­ers. Our op­po­nents have more to worry about, which makes us stronger.

How much pres­sure is there on Brazil to bounce back from 2014 by win­ning the 2018 World Cup? Per­son­ally, I want my play­ers to cope with the pres­sure and just en­joy them­selves on the pitch. We want to play beau­ti­ful foot­ball be­cause it in­creases our chance of win­ning tro­phies. We’re go­ing to the World Cup among the po­ten­tial win­ners. We are one of them and we aren’t afraid to con­sider our­selves among them.

“I WANT MY PLAY­ERS TO EN­JOY THEM­SELVES – WE WANT TO PLAY BEAU­TI­FUL FOOT­BALL AS IT IN­CREASES OUR CHANCES”

Clock­wise from top left Tite takes a break from sal­vaging Brazil’s World Cup qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign with a selfie ses­sion; the squad get put through their paces; Ney­mar is hun­gry to bounce back; Gabriel Je­sus brings the best out of the Sele­cao’s other...

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