Real Madrid: "On the eve of La Séptima we stayed up chatting until 4am in the hotel lobby" - Roberto Carlos
Real Madrid's legendary left-back looked back at some of the more intriguing moments of his career, including a late night before the 1998 Champions League final.
Roberto Carlos joined Real Madrid in the summer of 1996, he was brought to the club from Inter Milan by the late president Lorenzo Sanz, who recently passed away due to coronavirus-related illness. After a decade's service, the Brazilian left-back moved on in 2007 but returned a while back to take on the role of club ambassador. This week he spoke at length about his playing career and the people involved in it in an interview with The Players' Tribune and left us with some interesting anecdotes.
Joining Real Madrid: "Before I arrived, I had never been to Madrid. I was 23 years old. When I landed at the airport, I didn’t go straight to find out where I would be living. Nor did I go to the Santiago Bernabéu, the most majestic stadium in Europe - I went with some people from a Spanish newspaper to Cibeles. I had only seen pictures of Cibeles, but I knew it was a special place. At the centre of the square there is a fountain with a marble statue of the goddess Cybele. To anyone in Madrid, Cibeles is one of the most iconic places in the city".
Staying indoors during lockdown:"Right now, like most people, I can’t go to work. Over the last month I have left my house twice — and both times it was to go to the supermarket. Staying at home all day is driving me up the wall. But at the moment it’s the right thing to do. When I have gone out, I’ve barely recognised my city. The streets are completely empty. I have never seen Madrid like this".
Lorenzo Sanz: "He was the man who brought me to the club. Just the memory of Lorenzo makes me smile. Although he was the president, he was above all a fan. He lived for Real Madrid. He was always very involved, always with us in the dressing room. When we drew or lost, he’d let us have it. But when we won titles, he would be the first to embrace us. We loved him for his human qualities, for his optimism, for everything he was doing for madridismo. He was like a father to us. I was in touch with him daily. He would always give me advice. I could never call him Lorenzo Sanz, even if I tried! To me he was always President, or Presi”.
The night before the 1998 Champions League final in Amsterdam and La Séptima: "We had struggled in La Liga that season. Juve were in the final for a third year in a row. We didn't go into the game as favourites. The night before the final none of us could sleep. Normally we’d go to bed at 10 pm., but that night we were sitting in the hotel lobby at four in the morning, telling each other stories. We were not afraid, we just had a lot of respect for Juventus".
Final ante la Juventus: "We competed really well in the final. Juve had a lot of chances, but we won 1–0. We won that game not just with our quality, but with our motivation. We wanted it more than them".
Best moment at Real Madrid: "I’ll never forget that night. (winning La Séptima). Afterward we headed for the Plaza de Cibeles. The streets were flooded with hundreds of thousands of people, dressed in white shirts and scarves, singing and celebrating".
Madrid's Galácticos: "You would sit in the dressing room, look around you, and see the Ballon d’Or winner, the Spanish player of the year, the top scorer in La Liga, the best goalkeeper in the world. To be part of that environment was special. Sometimes I sat there and thought, 'Look at where you came from, and look at where you are now'. I felt proud. You never know where you can end up in life".
Last game for Real Madrid: "My last game for the club was on 17 June 2007. We were facing Mallorca at the Bernabéu in the last game of the season — and we were tied on points with Barcelona, who were playing Gimnàstic. If we both won, we knew we would clinch the title based on our head-to-head record against Barça. We went 1–0 down early on, but in the second half we turned it around and won 3–1. It was an incredible victory".
But what I remember best from that day is the way people treated me. Everyone knew it was my farewell game. David Beckham was saying goodbye, too. From the moment we came out of the hotel and began travelling toward the stadium, people treated us with so much affection. It felt like a birthday, you know? Everyone was wishing us well, sending us hugs and kisses. Saying things like, “Good luck,” and, “We love you.” Come back as soon as possible. That was when I realised what I had done for the club and when I realised how much people loved me".