By Tottenham Hotspur
Q: Goalkeepers have never been considered a big part of Brazil’s football history in the past?
A: That was normal before but it has changed a lot since then. I remember at the 2006/2007 Champions League there were five Brazilian goalkeepers competing in teams such as AC and Inter Milan, Porto, myself at PSV so nowadays Brazil doesn’t only export outfield players but also many goalkeepers.
Q: Nowadays England seem to not be producing top goalkeepers as they did in the past?
A: They need to invest more in preparing goalkeepers. Maybe there were more natural talents in the past and there weren’t the same demands in football as there is today. Now they need to invest more and work more with young players. That’s what happened in Brazil and nowadays kids want to be goalkeepers and be like Júlio César, myself and others. But you need to work a lot with the young players and give them the opportunity to play. For example, over here at Tottenham we have three or four senior goalkeepers but we call one or two young keepers to train with the senior squad to gain experience.
Q: How have you adapted at Tottenham and to the demands of a more physical type of football?
A: I thought it’d be easier to adapt because I’d been in Europe for four years then but over here the league is very hard. In my view it’s the most physically tough in the world as there’s so much physical contact with the goalkeeper, there are fouls to the goalkeeper that aren’t given by the referee but are given in other countries. I had some problems at first and was playing injured because I wanted to play to prove to everybody talking nonsense that Tottenham was right to pay that amount of money for my services so I never dwelled on that. All I wanted was to play well as soon as possible and show my qualities. I was happy and comfortable at PSV and could’ve stayed there as they didn’t want me to leave and the fans treated me like a hero but I wanted a new challenge. My style of goalkeeping is to go for the ball, I don’t stand on my line waiting until an opponent gets the ball five meters away from me and ends up scoring with a header. I can’t have that so I’d rather go for the ball and risk making a mistake than remain stuck to my line when I feel that I can deal with it before it’s a threat.
Q: What did Harry Redknapp first think of you?
A: There was no problem as he saw my work and professionalism and he likes that. He knew my qualities as he spoke to Tony Adams who told him about my time and achievements at PSV so at the beginning he told me to carry on working in the same way and he knew how to be patient so with his support everything would improve.
Q: What do you think about Spurs in the Champions League?
A: It’s not a surprise to me or to everybody in this Club because we’ve been working hard for over two and a half years. The team already had quality then and being in the Champions League isn’t a surprise at all but maybe it is for outsiders.
Q: What have you made of Gareth Bale’s form?
A: I think the difference this year is that we’re playing more on the attack and aren’t afraid to concede a goal but we play with responsibility, of course. Gareth Bale’s is doing great and is one of the best talents in Europe at the moment in my opinion so with him and also Van der Vaart’s qualities and experience in the team we are attacking more, playing the ball to get forward instead of kicking it long.
Q: What was your thoughts when Bale came up against your international teammate Maicon?
A: Maicon’s asked me about Bale before the game as they’d seen a few of our games so I told him that the he’s fast and good with the ball. After the game Maicon told me that Bale “isn’t fast – he’s like a thunderbolt”. We played well in the Champions League because the games were more open and we could attack so it was more difficult for Maicon and Lucio to deal with him. Though they are both my good friends off the field, I was happy with that because Bale’s in my team.
Q: Have you shared your Champions League experiences with your teammates?
A: We’ve talked about it a few times – I’ve told them about my experience and the feeling you get when you hear the Champions League song playing and the atmosphere in the games which is different than in league games. We also play against clubs from other countries and get to know different places so it’s special. It gives you more motivation and the desire to always win your games and carry on in the competition so there’s always something different and motivating when you play in the Champions League.
Q: What do you remember of the Champions League playoff first leg against Young Boys when you were losing 3-0 after 30 minutes?
A: It was a difficult game but we had the character to come back into it which isn’t always easy. It was an artificial pitch and there was a strange atmosphere. We took a long time to get into the game but then we played well and after we scored the first goal we felt more confident and didn’t panic and managed to score another goal. Though I normally wouldn’t say something like this but I can say now that was an important defeat for us.
Q: Can Spurs win the Champions League?
A: Yes, absolutely! I reached the semi-final with a PSV team without the quality Tottenham has now and we’re playing our best football in the Champions League so we have a chance to win like every other team also does. The shirt doesn’t win games so it doesn’t matter whether you’re Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, etc when it’s the Champions League and this mentality doesn’t work. Nowadays it’s more to do with the work you do on the pitch and the desire to win so whoever plays better on the day and wants to win more will win the game.
Q: What are the differences between playing in the Champions League and the Premier League?
A: Everybody knows everybody in the league so the games are tighter. In the Champions League the teams play more open and give us more space to play our attacking game. In the league we know each space on the pitch and how close all the teams play which makes it more difficult for us to play. But if we talk about the biggest teams like Man Utd being top of the league and all the rest we can also say that we’re in the fight for the championship and if our manager believes we can win it then we must follow his lead and give our best to achieve that.
Of course we’ve talked about this possibility and that we shouldn’t give up until the end and there are a lot of games until then.
Q: Thoughts on the leaders Manchester United?
A: They’ve got something different and it’s no surprise they’re the current leaders. It’s amazing how their manager manages to keep the team at the same level even when big players leave and others come in, he still keeps it at the top level.
Q: When you get the ball do you always think to give it to Bale first?
A: I try to throw it to him or any other player that will keep the ball and carry it forward without losing it straight away so I always try to throw it to either him or Modric or Van der Vaart and also to Aaron Lennon who’s very fast at getting the ball and taking it forward quickly.
Q: You played as a striker as a youngster, do you dream of scoring for Spurs one day?
A: Yes, I’d love that if I had the opportunity. It’d be amazing because I started playing football as an outfield player and to score a goal as a goalkeeper would be very nice. But it’d have to be in the right situation, for example, at the end of a match when we were winning by 2-0 and a penalty would be given in the last minute of the game and I’d take it and score.