Clube Athletico Paranaense striker Vitor Roque’s AS interview: “Neymar is my idol”
The Paranaense player sat down with AS to talk about everything from his international success to Neymar and Vinicius.
Vitor Roque (from Timoeto, Brazil, 2005) is having a year to remember. At just 18-years-old, the Athletico Paranaense forward has grabbed the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including that of FC Barcelona, who are the favourite to sign the player. ‘Tigrinho’ spoke exclusively to AS to go over everything surrounding the man in the spotlight.
First things first, well done on your success in the u-20 South American Championship.
Thank you. It’s always a source of pride to play for Brazil. Winning titles is very important for me and and my career. I have a lot of happiness and motivation.
Also, Menezes has called you up to the first team, how do you take on such a challenge?
It’s going to be difficult. At the start, when they told me I’d been called up, I didn’t believe it. But I’m happy and confident about the opportunity Ramón has given me.
Another huge shop window for you will be the u-20 World Cup.
Yes, we are going into it in the same way as the Championship. From the off we’re going to try win games and try to become champions. We will have to have the right amount of preparation time to be in good shape and go far. And, if possible, for the trophy.
As as for the Olympics in Paris next year, how do you feel? Going for gold?
Yeah, without a doubt we want the gold medal. It’s a dream to play in the Olympics: not just me but for my family, too. We watched a lot of the Olympics at home, and of course it’s a dream. I’m going to keep working with humility so, God willing, I can be there.
One of your ex-teammates in Paranaense, Bruno Guimarães, came from here and went on to shine for Newcastle and the National Team...
I don’t speak much to him, but he did send me messages of support for some games. Bruno Guimarães is a player who has a fantastic history with Paranaense; for me it’s a source of motivation to want to follow in his footsteps.
For those in Spain who don’t know you, how would you describe Vitor Roque?
Vitor is a fighting player who doesn’t leave anything on the pitch, he always gives his all in every game. A quick player and a good finisher, he always looks to win the most individual battles as possible.
What’s a typical day for Vitor Roque?
I’m a really calm person. When I’m not training I try to rest, focussing on recovery to continue training.
Paranaense is one of the clubs that exports the most Brazilian talent, with Bruno Guimarães and Renan Lodi as two recent examples...
It’s a fantastic club that is very well structured. They have helped me a lot since I arrived, first with the teacher ‘Felipão’ (Scolari) and now with Paulo Turram. It’s a team that treats their players very well. They have helped me a lot in my career.
One of your teammates is the legend that is Fernandinho.
Yeah, he is without a doubt [a legend]. He speaks to me, gives me advice. Since he’s got a fantastic history behind him in Europe, he always helps me and guides me every day.
Who are your idols?
Neymar for being Brazilian and for our culture, but also Cristiano Ronaldo for his hard work and Haaland because he is a natural goal scorer.
Neymar and yourself take up different zones of the pitch, but they complement each other. Right now he can’t as he’s injured, but how you think you two will play with each other when the time comes?
I’d be very happy! He’s a player in the national side that has shown his quality over the last years, ever since he was at FC Barcelona and now at PSG. It would be a source of pride and another dream come true to play alongside him.
Vinicius and Rodrygo have been the last two players that have come out of Brazil pretty much as children - do you know them?
I’ve never been able to speak to them until now.
Mano Menezes called up both of them for these friendlies, do you think you three could all play?
I don’t know, I hope so. I’m going to go to the call-up, speak to them and have our first contact, that way we can get to the first games in a good way in what is my first time with Brazil.
You have grabbed the attention of a lot of clubs in Spain, England, France, Italy - what do you see in your future?
I prefer to focus on the present instead of the future, because today is more important than tomorrow. My future is in the hands of God, so I am going to keep working with humility. My future will be a result of the work I do today.
In Spain there is a lot of excitement to see you play in La Liga, which club would be best for you?
I try not to think about things that go on off the pitch. I don’t have a preferred club. I think that right now, Paranaense is the best fit for me.
You could end up being Raphinha’s teammate at Barça, how do you think that would work on the pitch?
I don’t know, because I don’t play for Barça yet.
You’ve just come from playing the Libertadores final with Paranaense, being one of the top scorers of the tournament at just 17. How did you find that?
Last year was very important for me and the club. To get to the Libertadores final was a dream come true because I went a lot to see it with my dad. To play in my first Libertadores and score goals was a dream come true.
Are you excited to play in the Champions League?
Of course. Every footballer dreams of playing in it. I’m going to keep working hard so it happens.
At 18-years-old, how to you deal with the pressure that surrounds you?
I try not to think about it. I leave it for my agent and parents. I just focus on football because that’s the most important thing.
You came from Cruzeiro, which is owned by Ronaldo Nazario, did you ever speak to him?
Yeah, I had some contact with Ronaldo, I think twice or three times. We spoke a little together, but never about my future.