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Marcelo: “In my mind I never left Real Madrid”

The Brazilian gave an interview to ‘ESPN’ in its program ‘Diarios de Bicicleta’ where he lovingly reviews his time at Madrid and recalls his last days with the club.

Soccer Football - Club World Cup - Final - Real Madrid v Al Ain - Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - December 22, 2018  Real Madrid's Marcelo celebrates after winning Club World Cup  REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

Marcelo recently terminated his contract with Olympiacos and now finds himself, aged 34, looking for a new destination. This week, he sat down to chat with ESPN journalist Martin Ainstein, in his ‘Diarios De Bicicleta’ programme on ESPN. During their chat, Marcelo opened up about how difficult he found it to be regularly watching games from the subs’ bench - something that he assumed would happened before he joined Olympiacos and putting the team before his own needs. He does not rule out a possible return, although it’s not something he’s considering right now, and revealed that Modric, Kroos and Rodrygo are the three players who have surprised him the most in his career...

Leaving Real Madrid: “If I’m honest, I didn’t leave Real Madrid. That is the feeling I have. How do I leave Real Madrid? It stays with you. It is impossible for you to leave. And more. Part of me will always remain there. Part of me that is there, which is my son, who is growing up. And apart from that, it is impossible to say, ‘I have left Madrid’. No, I’m not at Real Madrid now. At least that’s how I see it”.

Possible return? “Sure, but I don’t know and I don’t want to think about what I’m going to do or what I’m not going to do right now. But I would very much like to return to Real Madrid and be there to try to help the young kids who need it. Yes, I do see myself coming back, but I don’t know in what capacity exactly because Madrid is just so big. So there are many ways in which I could help Madrid. I don’t see myself going back just to be there. No. Only if I can help Real Madrid in some way. I needed help when I first arrived when I was 18 years old, so something along those lines”.

Luka Modric and Marcelo celebrate with the Champions League trophy after being Liverpool in Paris.
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Luka Modric and Marcelo celebrate with the Champions League trophy after being Liverpool in Paris.David RamosDiarioAS

Most important trophy: “Let’s see... I think that any trophy, when you win, the feeling of having worked all season to win a title is like, ‘Ufff’. But the first title I won with Madrid was spectacular because I really felt like a footballer. I was now able to say, ‘I have won a trophy with Real Madrid’. That’s an important part of my story, my life. And then the last one, which for me was where I felt most important. And you know, I’ve talked about this before, I knew it was the last one. And I think that it has come in the best possible way, right? Saying goodbye to Real Madrid with a Champions League title. Since we have won five, it might seem that it is an easy thing to do, like saying, ‘Hey, next year we’ll win it again’. No, we know that it is very, very difficult to win the Champions League. And, in the end, a title like this, the last one for me, I think it was the most special, the last one”.

Feeling after winning the 14th European crown: “I sat on my haunches, started thinking, crying, telling myself, ‘It can’t be true’. In other words, I think that it was then that I realized, at that moment, that my time at Real Madrid had ended. Right there and then. At no time before that did I think this was it. And then I thought about my son. My time ends, now my son’s begins. Let’s see if he manages to make it to the first team. And there were a lot of other things. The fans screaming, begging you to stay - these are moments that no money in the world can buy. Nothing. The satisfaction of having fulfilled everything you set out to do. Leaving Real Madrid through the front door - that people respect you, not for winning trophies, but for what you have given to the club through hard work, commitment, respect. That, to me, is the greatest. It was amazing, just incredible. And people already knew that I wasn’t going to stay. They said, ‘Marcelo, stay’, but I already knew. I was very calm, very happy, as if to say, ‘Look, that’s it, it’s over and a new chapter has begun’”.

Importance of Cristiano Ronaldo: “When we start playing football, we know it’s not forever. It is clear that he no longer has the speed he had before, but he can play in any team in the world, without any doubt. He has always given the maximum to his teams. We are talking about a player who has been in the FIFA XI in The Best for 17 years in a row”.

Contribution to Madrid: “I believe, I can’t tell you one hundred percent, but I believe that my way of being, my joy, contributed a lot to the team. I am not saying that we have won because of my character. No. It’s just that I’ve won too. I say that it is really horrible, very difficult to be the captain of the team and be on the bench and watch your team mates play and you don’t play, but you have to train the next day. You have to tell your son, ‘No, it’s just that the coach doesn’t count on me, but why?’ There are a lot of things. That is why I say that for me this season (the last one) was the best, because I learned a lot as a human being”.

Who surprised you the most?: “I’ve been lucky enough to play for Madrid and I’ve seen the best. In each training session I’d be saying, “How did he do that!” Those who have surprised me the most are these three: Toni Kroos, Rodrygo and Modric. Kroos, because I don’t know what’s going through his head, he seems to be in his own world and he does incredible back checks. He manages to dribble with a control to the players who come from behind, I had never seen that. The other is Rodrygo, the typical player who was born with natural gifts, he dribbles with his body... He’s the deceptive, because he might appear slow but then he’s suddenly very fast with the ball. And the other is Luka Modric, there are no words to describe him. You cannot imagine what Luka is going to do with the ball, no idea. One day Rodrygo, Lucas Vázquez and I were on the bench watching Luka as he breezed through the middle of the park; he won the ball back, took it to the corner flag, then shielded it... He dribbled without even touching the ball and the one who was marking him didn’t know where he was”.

Best coaches: “The best technical talks? Mourinho’s, a coach who specializes in getting into your head. It changed me into being aggressive, fighting... In group management I prefer Zizou, because there was a time when Kiko Casilla played 25 games and Keylor Navas was on the bench, laughing. He kept everyone happy. With Carlo, I liked his calm way of being. We scored a goal and we were always calm. It was very good for me to have had him in my final season, in the situation I was in. I was the captain of the team, but he preferred to play someone else, and that’s normal, and he helped me deal with that issue.”

Final stage at Madrid: “I knew I wasn’t the starter and I said: ‘What can I do to help the team?’ Of course I was annoyed because I wasn’t playing. No player will say he is happy to be on the bench. And if he says he is, he’s lying, it’s impossible. I trained to the fullest because I was always up against Carvajal and Lucas; I said these bastards are going flat out but they’re not going to get past me, I’ll dribble past them, do whatever I can. I helped my team mates by competing in training and I felt very useful. My way of being and my joy have contributed a lot, too. I felt like a winner too.”

The run of Clásicos in 2011 and bad blood between Madrid and Barcelona: “It was crazy. I was playing in LaLiga and I thought it was the Champions League, and vice versa (laughs). It was very weird, really. I don’t think it was good for football, because they lost the... People wait a whole year to see a Madrid-Barça game and then that was lost. The Madrid-Barça that I remember the most is the final in Valencia, it was when we said that Madrid is right up there with Barça. We are talking about the best Barça in history and we were not able to compete there at the top. It was when Zidane arrived and we almost came back from LaLiga when we said we are ready to always fight with any team. And Luka and Sergio said that we could win three or four Champions Leagues in a row...”