Casemiro: “I wanted to be Ronaldo.”

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro spoke in an exclusive interview with Spanish football magazine Panenka in which he talks about his style of play, his time at Madrid, Lionel Messi and more.

On growing up

I wanted to be Ronaldo. Or Romario. They even told me I played like him, as a joke. Everyone wanted to be like them. Or like Bebeto.

On Julen Lopetegui

In 2014, I was about to go to Sevilla where I really wanted to play. They made an offer, Emery was there, they won the Europa League there was also Inter and Porto. Then Lopetegui called me, we talked for 15 minutes and then I thought: ‘I have to work with him’.

Diego Simeone said that you give balance to Madrid. Do you feel you are a player who attracts more attention from coaches than from the average fan?

All players are important but one of the most important players in the team is the defensive midfielder. That’s where everything happens. I feel immense affection from the Real Madrid fans, I also feel valued by the coaches and my team-mates. Having said that, it’s normal that people want to see a bit more of a spectacle. They want to see a hat-trick… that’s what’s cool about football. If you only see players winning possession back, it’s a bit boring. But that depends on how you see football. Coaches, who understand this, will see it differently to a fan. They know how important I am to the team. If this one isn’t there, the other one doesn’t shine. I’m happy because I know that those who understand football know the ‘dirty’ work I do.

The connection with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric – do you work on this?

No, you don’t train that anymore. Honestly, it comes out on its own. We already know each other by looking at each other. How each one likes the ball, what kind of pass the other is going to make… There is no explanation. Over the years we’ve connected in a special way and I think that this season we’re even closer off the pitch. There’s an incredible friendship, very rich, very nice. If you could see the chemistry the three of us have off the pitch, the camaraderie, the jokes we play on each other… We are friends and we really enjoy playing together.

What do you think makes them better? And you better

Their position on the pitch and their quality on the ball. But also how they help me defensively. We don’t talk a lot on the pitch, just a simple look is enough for us. With just a gesture, we know what to do.

Do you miss playing against Lionel Messi?

No, not at all. It’s impossible to miss Messi! I’m also telling you: his absence is noticeable, everything he represented for Barcelona is noticeable. He’s a player that everyone who sees him falls in love with. If you love football, you love Messi. He’s one of the three best players in history. After he left Barça and, in this moment of transition, you can see how important he was for the team. That’s why he is an icon of the club.

Real Madrid vs PSG

In no time Messi will come to the Bernabéu again, but we will be ready. It’s impossible for me to stop Messi on my own. My team-mates will have to help me. It will be a great game.

More European Football News