By Suben Ravindran
Brazil will now take another turn with Mano Menezes at the helm after the 2-0 victory against the USA , Brazil showed glimpses of the samba style soccer that is still being searched like a mythical long lost treasure. Why have the Brazilians lost that magic? Well to begin with they have not, well not exactly. If you look at the past Brazilian teams, the closest any team came to that marvels of 1970 Mexico World Cup was that team put together by Tele Santana in the 1982 World Cup in Spain. It was noted as the greatest “accident” that never should have happened (After Italy beat Brazil 3-2 in the 82 World Cup) and the next closest team to do that was the 1986 World Cup team and after that, the search started. This was an age where there was no internet and things like cable TV was hardly heard of by many in Asia while it was only used in some parts of Euope and USA.
The mythical skills and the mystique of that player in South America or Brazil was still under wraps. Well if you look at it even now in this age players playing in the Brazilian League are still regarded like a mythical unicorn until they try a transfer to Europe. The answer lies in the fact that the players in Brazil are being poached at a very early age, the standards are so high in Brazil that these players can easily adapt to the leagues in Europe, but there is a flip side to this. These players will eventually fall out as many players have from South America who feel that the stage is getting too hot for them. By the time the World Cup comes around the whole world would have seen the Brazilian players and the tricks and the trade of their secrets is gone, the unpredictability and that psychological edge that Brazil have when they step on to the field has all, but vanished.
Robinho was advised by Pele to stay at Santos and he went against that advise and joined Real Madrid when he should have at least stayed a season longer and Diego too of Santos should have at least stayed a season or two, instead Diego is now journeyman of a player and Robinho who should be at the peak of his powers is now on loan back to Santos from Manchester City (after another disastrous stint) and there is now talk that he might go to Turkey or France to join either Besiktas, Fenerbache or Lyon.
The current hotshot in Brazil is Neymar (photo) of Santos who just re-signed a new contract in Brazil, despite Chelsea hanging around like a shark near a steel cage (A Santos one where Neymar is inside). The players in Brazil need to develop their skills more, the essence of what makes them great is missing because they are poached at a very young age. Sure the legends of 82 and 86 like Zico, Junior, Careca, Falcao, Socrates and many others have played in Europe, but they did not leave when their development was still at its infancy, they left for Europe with a steely reputation and a legendary make-up that stands tall until now.
It is however not easy to keep the Brazilians at home, this is because the financial rewards are just unimaginable and it will take the foresight of the player and of course a good agent to take things slow and wait a season or two even if millions are offered at the table now…just writing that line and you will know how tough it is for the Brazilian.
The CBF or Brazilian Football federation have been aware of this problem and have tried many things in the past to stop this problem. They even ordered former player Paulo Roberto Falcao to stop picking players from Europe when he was a coach at Brazil in the 90s.
This was hard when it came to selection and obviously it did not work out and even Falcao did not like this so call “idea”. To make it worse there are players who are great, but do not even make it to the Brazilian League because of the quality and the trial methods of the major Brazilian clubs. They have two or three trials a year where thousands of players come for each trial. In that trial each player has probably 10 or 20 minutes to show what they got and for those who don’t show any thing outstanding they are left out. Cafu the Brazil Captain who won two World Cups as a player was rejected 13 times (he was told that he was not good enough to play soccer) before he got into the big time and became captain of Brazil. Many of these players who are rejected by these clubs find opportunity in Russia or Ukraine. Many players take a detour before being noticed by the Brazilian national team manager. A good example is Fernandinho of Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine, he played youth football and senior football for a club called Atletico Paranaense (Atletico PR) in Brazil from 2002-2005 and there was no earthquake when he left Brazil for Ukraine, but he has made waves in Ukraine. Winning the Ukrainian league, cup and UEFA cup with Shakhtar. He was voted the top player in the Ukrainian league and was also player of the club for the same season (2007-8).
He would surely never be noticed if he was still in Brazil with Atletico PR. The same goes for his teammate at Shakhtar. Douglas Costa who played for Novo Hamburgo and Gremio in Brazil. The attacking midfielder together with Fernandinho (or Fernando Luiz Rosa) have been selected by Menezes for his training camp in Spain in September. Andre Felipo who plays for Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine was also picked by Menezes.
The problem is if a player does not make that move now somebody else in Brazil is ever ready to make it and the club has easy pickings in this rich rain forest country. For those who don’t make it there is always Eastern European clubs who are ever willing to get players at bargain buys and sell them at a higher price later. There are abundance of these players from Brazil playing in Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia and many other countries and some like Eduardo, are even playing for their national team (Croatia).
The Brazilian players that try their luck there and make it are likely to be in the national team (either Brazil or that country’s national team) sooner or later, why? It is not so much that the league is tough in-terms of quality, but it is a physical league and the harsh weather like winter is another problem, so when a Brazilian player stands out here, he is much likely to make it in sunny Spain, Portugal or a drab Manchester weather in England. There are other players who have made the journey to sunny Spain without going to Eastern Europe and if he was American it would probably be a hit Hollywood movie now.
Marcos Senna is another journey man who made it big and even went on to play for Spain and won the European Championship in 2008 for Spain and was named in the UEFA team of the tournament. He played for many clubs in Brazil; Rio Branco, America SP, Corinthians, Sao Caetano and finally Villareal. It looked like his career was heading downward after he left Corinthians, but things picked after that and the gods were smiling. He took up Spanish citizenship and played for Spain.
Perhaps Senna is a good example for Brazilians to follow he waited 6 years before he finally made his move to Spain and he was rewarded for this in ways even he could not imagine and is it any wonder that he is still at Villareal, young Brazilians will do well to inquire about Senna’s agent Ely Coimbra and in the process maybe preserve the Brazilian mystique by staying longer in the land of Jogo Bonito.