Casemiro: "Cristiano is an inspiration to every footballer"
The Brazilian was behind the microphones of Spanish radio programme 'El Larguero' to chat about his situation in the team and Saturday's Clásico.
Casemiro was behind the microphones of Spanish radio programme 'El Larguero' in the early hours of this morning to chat about his situation at Real Madrid and Saturday's Clásico: "Whoever we face, Real Madrid always go out to win - for respect the club and the fans", he said, with reference to this weekend's trip to Camp Nou.
Do you think Barça will be influenced by the loss of Mathieu from now until the end of the campaign?
Yes, of course; he's a great player, he's hard-working and bring them quality so I'm sure they'll miss him.
You made a brief, five-minute appearance against Barça in the 2011 Copa del Rey final in Valencia…but you've never played at Camp Nou...
No; I was there when Ancelotti was in charge, but only watched the game from the stands. It's a beautiful ground, with a great atmosphere and Barça are very strong playing there. I saw the changing rooms but didn't step out onto the pitch.
How has the atmosphere in the Madrid camp been this week?
It feels special; with the Clásico on the horizon makes it feel special and we've been training very hard. I think I've been training even more than usual.
So training in the run-up to El Clásico has been more intense?
I think so because it's a special game…against Barcelona…at their ground…it's a very special game.
Do you think you'll play?
You have to ask the coach about that. I'm ready to play. Zidane hasn't said anything to us yet; he knows he can count on me but I have no idea whether I will play or not.
Benítez left you on the bench in Barça 0-4 win at Bernabéu…what did he say to you?
I think these things don't need to be explained; and nor do you ask for explanations when you are in the starting line-up. Of course I felt bad because we lost the game but no one had to explain anything. You always want to play, be out there helping your team mates but you also have to respect the coach's decisions and Benítez is a great coach. I didn't play against Athletic either and the team did really well. I felt bad that day because I never want to see Real Madrid lose and even less against Barcelona.
Zidane didn't count on you at all at first…
I have huge affection for Zidane because he really looked after me when he was Ancelotti's assistant. Zidane spoke to me a lot, he looked after me. He would always speak to the players who were not playing regularly. He'd call me and tell to keep working hard, to never stop working. He's got a lot of time for us, for those who don't play much and the youth team players.
Didn't it seem strange then that you didn't figure in his team lists?
No, every coach has their decisions to take, and he knows what he's doing. I have a lot of respect for Zidane and I'll just keep working hard in training. I told him that I am training hard because I respect him and that he can always count on me and he replied that he has always counted on me. Zidane has always helped me and encouraged me.
How do you see Barça going into this one?
They're a great team full of great players; they have a solid defence and in they're a in a great moment of form. It'll be difficult for us on Saturday but Madrid will fight right up until the end. We've been working to win this game. We know it'll be complicated but we won't go down without a fight.
A 'little bird' told me that you have got what it takes to be one of the best centre-backs in the world…
-I enjoy playing just in front of the central-backs, helping everyone and trying to conduct the ball out well.
You elected the No. 14 short…Cruyff's number, and the one Guti and Xabi Alonso wore...
Yes, that's right, it was me who chose the number 14. All of them are great footballers, although I can't play like them because I'm a different kind of player.
Is your mother here with you in Madrid?
No, she's in Brazil…looking after my brothers. My childhood in Brazil was very tough and very difficult. I'm very proud of my mum, I try to see myself reflected in her, and I think about her a lot. My dad left us when I was about three or four and my mum, who was a cleaner, worked every day of the week in every house she could. The only reason I could play football because of my mum working all of those hours. I would have to sleep over at friends' houses because we didn't have a car and otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to go to the team's games.
What was your hometown like?
For us, it's a village but there are around a million inhabitants. My neighbourhood was a bit rough but humble. My mother rented a fourth-floor appartment, with a kitchen and a bathroom and we were really happy there.
What did you do when you received your first pay cheque?
With the first money I earned I bought my mum a house, I remember it well. She thought I only played football to enjoy myself but I had it very clear that I wanted to help her and that the way to do that was through football.
Did you get to play much with Neymar?
I played against him when he was at Santos and I was at São Paulo; and we played together when we were in Brazil's youth teams. I've got a great deal of affection for him and for his father. Neymar is a great person. He's always been a special player and has always caught the eye, dribbling the ball around everyone - he's always played like that, exactly like he does now. He knows that because of his style of play, he's always going to win lots of fouls, but he's prepared for that.
Is it true that he you ask the coach about your performance after every game?
I like to ask the coach what I did wrong awhat I did well or if he expected more from me. I like to ask questions and learn. I'm 24 and I've got a lot to learn still but I'm keen to learn more all the time.
What did you think about Cristiano's declarations?
Cristiano surprises me every day because he always wants to work more, he always wants to win more. He's an inspiration for every football player in the world. He's an exceptional player both on and off the pitch. He's never happy with his goals, he always wants more, and that's why he's the best on the world. I have the great pleasure of being able to work alongside him and I learn a lot of things from him. His comments are in the past now, there's no need to bring it up again now.
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