Marcelo – the Real… interview
Marcelo was the latest visitor to the RMTV studios, and in this interview, he talks about his origins, being happy and his “brothers” Pepe and Cristiano. But his biggest and most adorable smiles are reserved for his wife Clarice, his three dogs and his son, apparently in that order! I also absolutely adored the parts where Marcelo reflected on all that his grandfather Don Pedro had done for him, as well as the English words he randomly inserted into the conversation! Marcelo’s totally the fun captain, no?
Plus, the vest – I’m flashing back to Karim Benzema and his inappropriate one on the day of his presentation!
If I’m not mistaken, “Sweetest Girl” by Wyclef Jean with Akon is one of your favorite songs…
Yes, I have many favorite songs, but this one I dedicate to my wife, who is my sweetie.
You’re a real romantic! This song is also one of the ones you dance the most to in Valdebebas. People might not know, but I’ve seen you dance there, with your rhythm, before, during and after the training sessions. Is it just the way you are, with the happiness, the dancing, the music?
Yes, from the time that I was a kid, with or without difficulties, I learned that in life you have to be happy no matter what, or at least try to be. I’ve always been like this in my life, and I try to transmit it to the locker room with each game. Happiness helps you a lot.
I don’t know if you’re the best player on Madrid, but you’re definitely the best dancer. It’s not Cristiano, it’s not Casillas…
They try, but Brazilians have a special relationship with dance. I’m a normal dancer, and I can dance with any type of music, and it works out.
What you said before was nice, that no matter what the situation is, the way you are always has to be the same, with the joy, since everything’s easier when you’re happy, and later on when things get better, you can enjoy them more.
Of course. You value things more, and I’m no different. I’ve always worked hard, and when I achieved things, I’ve valued them a lot.
Music is very important to you, no? You’re always listening to music, whether on your iPod or in your car, on the bus…
It takes only 10 minutes for me to get from my house to Valdebebas, but I have to listen to music on the way.
And videogames… you and Pepe have a spectacular competition going on…
Well I prefer videos and music from the Internet, and Pepe videogames.
Who’s the better gamer, you or Pepe?
Pepe is better. I know how to play and I play well, but Pepe is better.
Whenever people ask me about you, I usually tell them one thing, he’s always going to be a kid. He’ll always have the soul of a child.
Well yes a kid, but I’ve learned a lot in life, both from defeats and wins, and you can say that I’m a kid, because I’m always happy and upbeat. I think this helps me in the locker room and in my life as well.
Tell me about your childhood, of growing up in the Catete neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro… what were you like?
I was a normal kid, always happy, playing football on the streets, futsal, going to the beach, doing what normal kids do. That’s where I met my girlfriend, who is now my wife [what a cute smile when he talks about her!]. I have all my friends there, and I’ve had a wonderful time there.
When did you meet your wife Clarice, whom you dedicated the song of this program to?
We were friends first, when we were 15 or 16, I knew her brother, and then we started going out later. And then she came here to live with me. We then got married, although we already felt like we were married before.
Have you experienced bad moments in your life?
Bad? Well, that happens to everyone, no? But I have nothing to complain about, because my family has always done everything for me, and I never lacked anything. So I can’t complain. I’ve had some bad moments, but everyone goes through them, and nothing extremely bad has happened to me.
What was your childhood group of friends like in Catete?
I have a lot of friends. There are some that I’ve lost contact with because they moved away or have traveled, but we were seven or eight. I’m still in contact with six of them, more or less. Some work, some travel, others study…
What is Catete like?
The neighborhood Catete is… there is the beach, and there are favelas…. and well, there is the middle ground, with favelas behind it, and that’s where I lived. I didn’t live on the beach or in the favelas. But I knew both sides. And that’s what Catete is like, there is a street, a big street, with a lot of people. And well, I was born there and I have all my friends there, and my entire family is from there too.
Is it difficult to be a child in Rio de Janeiro?
For me, the truth is that it wasn’t difficult, because I was always with my friends and family, playing football or going to the beach, doing everything that I could to be well. I don’t think it was difficult.
I asked because there is a part of Rio where there are many favelas, some very poor areas.
Yes, it’s like that. There is a lot of poverty, but life in Brazil is like that. You have to study, try to find a steady source of income to help your family, in case your father is unable to help you, so you have to make your own life.
You talked before about playing football on the beach. I know you had some disagreeable incidents when you returned home from playing football on the beach. A famous tunnel, with two doors… Tell us about it.
My watch was stolen in that tunnel. We had a team, we played every Tuesday I think, well, once a week. There was this tunnel, and it was always open, but at night it was a bit dangerous. On that day, we entered the tunnel, and one of the doors was closed, and there was a guy in there. He asked me if I knew this other guy… I was very nervous and began crying. He asked me for my watch and I had to give it to him.
You lived until the age of eight with your parents, and if I’m not mistaken, your father was a firefighter and your mother a teacher. A firefighting father.
Fireman! [Marcelo says this in English and it’s so cute!]
Did you every want to become a fireman?
He did show me his shirts when I was a kid, but I never had any desire to become a firefighter, I wanted to play football [cute laugh].
Your mother was a teacher. Did she ever say to you, “Marcelo, son, you have to study…”
Always. In my family, my father, my mother and my grandmother always told me, “you have to study, you have to study.” And I would say, “okay, I’m going.” But then my grandfather said, “you have to study, but you have to play football as well.” My mother was a teacher, and she always asked me to study, but I had to choose between that and football, because I tried doing both things, and I opted for football.
Your grandfather, el Señor Pedro…
… Don Pedro is an institution for you, and I believe he’s the person who showed you the road that led you to where you are now.
Yes, without a doubt. I owe my family a lot, since they’ve always been with me, including my wife, my son, my father, my mother, but my grandfather has always been… if I played badly, he would tell me, no, you didn’t play badly, you were the best one out there. He always lifted my spirits. He’s always been like that since I was a kid, always by my side, always giving me encouragement. Right now he’s in Brazil, a bit far, but he always gives me strength.
If I’m not wrong, it was Señor Pedro who accompanied you to the training sessions, and he even worked two or three jobs to earn money so that you could train.
What is Don Pedro like? Where did he work to earn money for you?
Before, he worked as a chauffeur for a bank in Brazil, then he worked in an office, but since training with Fluminense cost a lot of money, he had to find another job. I had to pay 13 reales a day, and that’s a lot in Brazil.
Thirteen reales a day so you could train?
I was told a very nice story. One day, Don Pedro didn’t have the money for your training, and he told you, “I only have these coins.” What happened? You were in a bar, no?
He had a one-real coin, and there were these slot machines there, where you could play for 25 centavos. And that day, we really didn’t have any more money to go to training. He had to pay for a bus ticket, but I didn’t have to, because I was just a kid. And so he put the coin in… I still remember to this day that the machine had different countries – Spain, Brazil, everything, and to win, you had to choose the country correctly. He bet the coin on Croatia, and we won 25 reales. That day, I ate everything – hamburgers…
So thanks to that coin, you could go to training. What is the best advice that Don Pedro has given to you?
He constantly gives me advice. Each time I speak with him, he gives me advice, so just talking with him helps me and motivates me to play football.
Perhaps he’s the one that believed the most in you when you were small. Your parents always said, “studies and football.” But it’s as if he knew that you were going to get to the professional level…
When I began to play association football in Fluminense, the team wasn’t very good. I wanted to play futsal. He told me no. It was a stupid thing, but he was very excited about me playing football, and that in the end turned out very well for me, these small things that became big deals.
Is it true that you almost quit football because you didn’t have money to train?
Yes, because… well at that time, since we’ve now spoken about my grandfather’s three jobs, Fluminense had a hotel for the concentraciones, and at least they had that, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone. Thirteen reales a day is a lot.
At the age of 13, you joined Fluminense. Is that when you realized you could get somewhere, or at what age did you think you could become a professional footballer?
It happened when I play my first official game with the first team of Fluminense, but my grandfather claims that he knew from the time I was five. To him, I was the best.
Do you remember receiving your first salary as a footballer?
How much was it?
One hundred reales. I was on one of Fluminense’s juvenil teams.
And what did you do with it?
I gave it to my grandfather.
All of it?
Yes. He had done everything for me. I wasn’t interested in the money, I was more interesting in joking around with my friends and playing football, so I gave it all to him. In the end, he gave me back part of it.
What have you done for your grandfather, to thank him for all that he did for you?
I always thank him, and I try to do everything I can for him. But it’s impossible to repay him for everything he did for me, I think it will be difficult.
What do you remember about your debut with the first team of Fluminense?
I scored a goal in my first game, and I dedicated it to my wife by making the letter “C” with my hand.
[I think she’s in the studio watching the taping, because he gestured toward someone as he said that.]
It’s a good thing you didn’t make a mistake, such as making the letter “A.”
Or like Di María (Marcelo makes a heart with his hands). I dedicated it to her and my family as well, because they had always supported me, but at that time, Clarice was always with me.
How much does Clarice have to do…
A lot! (He looks to the side again).
… with you getting to where you are today?
A lot, because Clarice is not only my wife, but she’s also my friend, she’s always helping me and she’s always there for me. She’s the mother of my “lindo hijo” [Marcelo is SO adorable as he says this!] and I owe her a lot. It’s the same as with my grandfather, I try to thank her for everything she’s done, but it’s impossible to repay her for all that she’s done for me.
[If I were Clarice, I’d be crying right now.]
Speaking of your son, if I’m not wrong, he was born on Sept. 16, 2009 and is named Enzo. Zidane’s son shares the same name.
Yes, that’s true. I didn’t name him that for Zidane’s son, but because I liked the name, and Clarice liked it as well, and so we named him Enzo.
I’ve been told there are three women in love with you, but don’t worry, Clarice won’t get mad. Nalla, Bella and Uly. [Marcelo puts his hands to his heart.] Those are your three dogs, no? They’re one of your weaknesses.
Yes, when I get home, it doesn’t matter whether I’m happy or sad, whether it’s rainy or sunny, they’re always there with me. Always.
Are you ever sad?
Well, there are days when I’m sad, for example when you don’t manage to help your team as you would like… and off the field as well. I try to always be happy, to exude joy, but of course it’s not possible to do that every single day. It’s normal, no? A normal person will be sad once in a while.
When you’re sad, do you prefer to talk about it or do you stay quiet and keep it bottled up inside?
Before, I used to stay silent, but now – and I’m not sad too often – I speak with my wife or with my dogs… they listen to me.
We’ve spoken about Clarice, about Don Pedro, your parents… and we also have to talk about Caio, another very important person in your life, and as the míster would say, a “top” fustal player.
Top, top, top.
He’s a phenomenon, no? He’s your friend, your brother… everything.
He’s my brother-in-law, my friend… he’s everything. He helps me every day, he has his own life but he’s always with me, he’s like a brother to me. We’ve known each other since we were small, and I owe him a lot as well. He’s always helped me out in everything. I can call him at three in the morning to tell him about my problems and he always helps me. I trust him with my eyes closed.
He’s also a university graduate, so he also tried to get you to study.
A key moment in your life occurred in 2006, when Real Madrid unexpectedly appeared in your life. How were you told that Real Madrid was interested in you?
Well, I had many offers, after debuting with the Brazilian national team and scoring a goal.
Which teams wanted you?
CSKA Moscow, Sevilla… ummm… wait, I have some more… Juventus… [Marcelo cracks up and is totally adorable.]
You were talking about “many.”
Yes… I spoke with my agent, and he asked me which one I wanted to go to, and I said Real Madrid. But Fluminense had signed an agreement – without my knowledge – with Sevilla, and the only thing that was lacking was my signature. I almost went to Sevilla, but they didn’t have my signature. I wanted to go to Real Madrid. And later on, when I got here and signed the papers, I felt relief.
After you signed the papers, who was the first person you called?
My wife Clarice. I told her that I had achieved my dream, and that we could be tranquil now.
What does being a Real Madrid player mean to you?
I think if you ask children in Brazil, or anywhere in the world, what they want to be, and they say footballer, and then you ask where, they all reply Real Madrid. I was the same. My friends as well. I think Real Madrid represents something huge, not only in the sense of football, but also with the help they give to needy children. It’s a great club.
You’ve grown a lot in Real Madrid, and you’re now one of the captains of Real Madrid. How has Madrid been influential in this, and what have they taught you?
I think the passing of time teaches you a lot of things. I came here when I was 18, and I didn’t play a lot, I didn’t get called up… but I learned many things. And in the locker room as well, playing with the best players in the world, that makes you learn for sure.
What do you imagine your future in Real Madrid to be like? Would you like to retire in Real Madrid?
Of course, from the time that my family and I arrived, we’ve been treated very well, not only by the club, but by the Spanish people. We’re always treated well whenever we’re out on the streets. Madrid is a great city. I want to triumph here, I want to win many titles here, and if I’m able to retire here, it will be an honor, but that’s still a long time away. I hope I can retire here.
I’m going to tell you a secret, which is that you’re one of Florentino Pérez’s weaknesses. He always says that you’re going to be the best leftback in the world, if you aren’t already.
I thank him for these words, but I know that I have to work hard and fight to be the best, not only in this club, because I would also like to be the best in the world. But I have to work hard and improve on many things, which is normal for a player that wants to be a great player.
Your best friends on the team are Pepe and Cristiano, who receive a lot of criticism. What can you tell us about what Pepe and Cristiano are really like as persons?
A lot of people talk just to hear themselves speak. They don’t interact with them on a daily basis. Perhaps they just see one game where they don’t do well. I think you have to know the person in order to talk about them. Cristiano and Pepe are like brothers to me. They’re always happy as well, we pass our happiness back and forth.
And another person that has a weakness for you is Iker Casillas. You’re like a little brother to him, no? He’s always talking about Marcelo, and on the field, he’s always shouting at you.
I have a lot of respect for Iker, but on the field, that’s normal for players that want to win. If I can fight with him and win a title, I’ll fight. But it’s normal. We argue, we have discussions, but for the good of the team. We get along much better like this, and it works for us.
What can you tell me about Casillas and Sergio Ramos, the first two captains of Real Madrid?
Iker is, as I once said in another interview, a captain, but a “brother-captain.” He’s not a serious captain that only talks, he’s a brother-captain that helps the team, he’s always in a good mood, and he’s an idol for Madrid. And Sergio Ramos, despite being young, has a lot of experience. He brings a lot to this team and his words in the locker room also help us a lot.
There really is a great atmosphere in the locker room. It appears that all 24 players are perfectly integrated.
Yes, there’s not one guy of whom you can say, I don’t get along with him or we talk more than someone else. No, we all talk with each other the same. And I think this helps us on the field. If we have an argument, it’s forgotten about after the game. I think that comes from the great atmosphere.
The moment of truth has arrived for the team.
Yes, we’ve been working hard since the beginning of the season to get to this point. We’re feeling good and confident, but with a lot of humility, for this very difficult month that is coming up. We want to and we have to win.
Is the moment of truth coinciding with your best moment?
I don’t know, I want to improve more, and I do improve each day. But yes, I’m feeling the most comfortable now since I came to Real Madrid, things are going well for me and so I think this is my best moment.
When Mourinho talks about you, he only has words of praise, such as hard work, example of professionalism, a player that has matured, improved in his defensive play, a marvel in the attack… It’s important to have a coach like José Mourinho say this about you, for him to say this is the Marcelo that I want.
Of course. He’s the best coach in the world and the fact that he says that he wants you to play on his team is great and important for any player. From the beginning of the season, all I wanted was to help the team. I think I’ve improved my aggressiveness a lot, and he’s helped me to do that. And tactically, he’s helped me even more, with this aggressiveness, which comes from him.
Maradona said that after Cristiano and Messi, Marcelo is one of the revelations of the Liga…
Cristiano was teasing me about this. I was so happy, I was going around saying, look at what Maradona said about me! And Cristiano was like, he doesn’t know anything about football. Whatever, he doesn’t know about football? But those are very important words from one of the best players in the world. I feel very, very happy that he said those things about me.
The Bernabéu is a very tough stadium, which you know because you’ve been booed in the past. But for several games now, they’ve been chanting your name. You must be very proud of this.
Of course. When I was whistled at in the past, which happened several times, I thought, well I must have done something wrong. So I worked harder, I improved, and now I’ve seen them chant my name several times, and that leaves you with a great feeling. Being there, knowing that all the fans are with your team… that gives you a lot of motivation to win.
You had great games against Lyon and Tottenham in the Champions League, which is very important.
Yes, the team is doing very well, and when the team is doing well collectively, that reflects on the players. I think that’s fundamental for any player.
The Bernabéu was impressive the other night against Tottenham, pushing and cheering their team on. Did you all talk about this in the locker room once the game was over? The fans were impressive, no?
Yes, from the first moment. And even before the game started, they were there, shouting “Real Madrid!” And you could feel this push during the warm-up, 30 seconds after the start of the game, during the game, at the half… it helped us a lot.
Many players and even the coach have said that when the Bernabéu pushes their team, there’s no other stadium like this in the world.
We saw this, no, in these two games against Lyon and Tottenham. The fans have to push us and animate us, because when we feel the love of the fans, it’s wonderful for us, so when we’re playing well and the fans are supporting us, things are always going to turn out well for us.
Everyone coincided after the Tottenham game that you can’t be too overconfident, even with the 4-0 result.
Never, never. It was 4-0, and the goals helped us a lot, but we have to take things calmly and play to win. Madrid always plays to win, regardless of the results.
What do you think about this Champions League cup, when you’re at home alone and your dogs are listening to you? What do you tell them?
I think about one game at a time, but it’s true that the Champions League cup is very special, because it’s been a long time since we passed the round of 16 and now we’re in a good position to pass the quarterfinals, we haven’t gone through yet, but we’re well-positioned. We have to be strong, united, with a lot of desire and confidence to win. It’s difficult but I believe we can do it.
And leaving the European Cup aside, we got back to the Liga. No one on the team has given up hope of winning it.
Well, for me personally, I’m always going to be there until the end, as the Real Madrid music says (he’s referring to some of the chants at the stadium). As long as it’s mathematically possible, I’ll do everything.
We have a partidazo coming up, against Athletic in San Mamés.
Yes, it’s a partidazo. We’ve experienced good things there, we’ve won games there and we have to forget about the Champions for now and think about the Liga, in this very, very difficult game.
You’re going to face a player that you like a lot, Fernando Llorente.
Yes, I like him. One time, I was watching a game, I don’t remember who it was against, but he scored a goal with five minutes left for the national team, and I was very happy for him.
What do you tell the rest of your teammates at this very important moment of the season, since you’re a veteran here?
Well I don’t usually talk to the entire team like a captain, but I always try to help out in whatever way I can, with my words, or by being happy, like I usually do, no? I’m not one to talk a lot.
What do you focus on when you look around the locker room?
Before the game against Tottenham, I did my own things, but then I focused on the faces of my teammates and I felt very good sensations.
Let’s get to know Marcelo the person. What are your hobbies? What is a normal day like for you?
Playing with my dogs, playing with my son [in that order? Come on Marcelino!!!], going to the movies, which is where I’m going after this, walking around Madrid, things like that, going out to eat.
Speaking of eating, I was told an anecdote from your time at Fluminense, during a concentración, someone called and ordered pizzas, but gave the name of another player.
One time… it’s true… the player was sent home, because we ordered pizzas in his name. Diego, I have to ask for your forgiveness, he left Fluminense because of several pizzas.
So you called and ordered pizzas, but gave his name.
It wasn’t me. It was another of my teammates, but I was there.
And you love playing football on the lawn of your house, you like being with Caio, and what else? When you’re at home, what are you like? Do you like being surrounded by people or do you prefer being alone?
I like being with my friends, with my family, surrounded by people. On a daily basis, I’m a father, but my son is still very small so I can just tease him. But when he does something bad, I tell him, no! I feel like a father who is… As a husband, I’m great. That’s the way I am.
Do you cook?
Yes. Scrambled eggs, because it’s easier. That’s what it’s like in my house. I usually eat at Valdebebas. I’m always in a good mood.
Marcelo, I’ve asked everyone who’s passed by here what comes to their mind when they pass by Cibeles. What do you feel and think when you pass by Cibeles?
There’s always the knowledge that if we win titles, we can go there. I’ve been there twice, and I saw Raúl putting the scarf on Cibeles, which is an unforgettable memory. Each time that I go to Gran Vía, I pass by there and I love it. When my friends come, I show it to them, saying that’s where Madrid celebrates titles when they win. When I pass by and look at it, I feel the desire to play to win.
Do you see yourself climbing Cibeles this year?
Well it’s difficult to say but I hope we can do that this year.
Well I know that you don’t like being compared to Roberto Carlos, because for you, Roberto Carlos is the greatest leftback in history. But I will compare the two of you in one thing. You have the same humane quality as Roberto Carlos, who is a great person.