"Vinicius and Reinier have all it takes to be among the world's best"
Flamengo director, Carlos Noval, spoke exclusively to AS to give his insight into two of the club's academy graduates now playing at Real Madrid, Vinicius and Reinier.
Flamengo is constantly exporting elite players with the highest potential to Europe. What is your secret?
The main thing for me is the technical quality of the player, his natural instinct. We enhance the best thing they have and we work and develop their technical, physical and mental skills, but always without restricting their improvisation and creativity.
What has been key to Flamengo’s success in all of this?
The structure of the club and the excellent professionals that we have is what makes us a reference in training in Brazil. My main objective has always been to have a highly prepared coaching team so that we can teach the players as much as possible, not only on the pitch, but also off it. Since my arrival in 2010, we began to create and develop a methodological workbook based on Flamengo's DNA.
How did you meet Vinicius?
We practically arrived at the club together. He was around 9 or 10 and went to the futsal team. Then he went to the pitch and from there, I had more contact with him. From the first glance, I knew that this boy had something special.
What was he like?
I would describe him as a very happy boy. He got on well with all of the players and staff. He always had great respect despite being very playful. You could only get him to study by pulling him by the ear from a very young age (laughs). On the pitch he was pure magic, daring, creative. He faced opponents without fear, and always with a fine type of football and an eye on goal.
You are known, among other things, for helping young people at a personal and family level. How was it with Vinicius and those around him?
It’s not only me, but everyone at the club. We all feel responsible for the families. We try to guide them and help them in whatever is necessary, especially Vini's. We always had a very close relationship, based on friendship and respect, with his parents, brothers and uncles, who are all fantastic people. We always talk a lot about Vini’s future. That relationship of respect and transparency between them, the club and its agents helped him a lot to succeed.
What potential did you see in him?
He always stood out, and we had some excellent players in his generation. But he always played with the older age categories.
Who did he remind you of?
He was unique; he didn't remind me of anyone because he had his own style.
Are you still in contact with him?
I still have a lot of contact and friendship with his family. I always send Vini messages when I think he needs advice; it can be to give him constructive criticism or to motivate him at times when I feel he’s not doing well. In October I went to Europe for work and stopped by Madrid to see how he was doing. We had dinner at his house with his family the two days I was there. When he comes to Rio de Janeiro he stops by and visits us.
Reinier: a complete player but still has to grow
You know Reinier better than most. What can you tell us about him?
He arrived at Flamengo at the age of 12. His great potential began to emerge at 14. He was a very focused, responsible boy, and a good friend to his team mates. He has become a complete player, although, obviously, he still has to grow.
Will his opportunity come soon and is he ready?
Yes, we talked several times about that sudden move. I tried to get him to greatly appreciate this opportunity; to appreciate that he left one giant club for another and that he must keep his feet on the ground and stay humble; and play the football Flamengo and Brazil blessed him with.
Do you think it would have been better if he had finished in Flamengo’s first team?
No boy at 17 or 18 years old can be 100% prepared. They always have something to polish and develop. Maturity normally increases at 23 years old.
You have followed the birth and evolution of many players. How far can Reinier go?
Both he and Vinicius have all it takes to be among the world’s best and they will be recognized soon as such.
What is Reinier’s greatest virtue?
His coldness and precision in front of goal. It can decide games.
In what areas can he improve?
As he is still a developing boy, I think he needs to improve his intensity and tactical awareness, but, when it comes to the fundamentals, he is one of the most complete players that I have seen at the Flamengo youth academy.
What advice did you give him?
Maintain that great joy and determination in his work, work hard every day, be humble and respect others.
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