From Tottenham Hotspur
Our new Brazilian international Sandro is set to provide our midfield with another dimension as Harry Redknapp’s squad grows in potency and potential. And the 21-year-old is fearless in his self belief as he assesses a future that suggests well-founded optimism for both Spurs and the player himself. By John Fennelly.
Having crossed the world from Brazil to North London, Sandro admits that the excitement of starting a new phase of his career easily outweighs any emotion for the past.
It is clear that the 21-year-old retains a powerful focus that will not allow outside influences or interests to distract him from his sole goal; to be the best. And he’s convinced that joining Spurs will play a major role in that ambition and lift him to a higher footballing level.
Sandro, full name Sandro Raniere Guimaraes Corderio, admits that leaving his only previous club Sport Club Internacional was difficult as they provided the foundation, impetus and environment that took him all the way from local football to the Brazil national side.
His family, such a massive influence on his career in his early days and obviously still so important to him, would also always be a massive consideration. But, as in the difficult times when they found the money to encourage their son’s fledgling career, they have also been fully supportive in his current quest to fulfil his dream.
Born in the city of Riachinho, located in an agricultural region in the state of Minas Gerais, Sandro showed great tenacity in those early days as his cherished career seemed to turn into more blind alleys than potential opportunities. Money was tight but his father Juaci worked hard to ensure that his son could seize any chance that came his way. And with his own spirit, Sandro’s gradual emergence slowly gained momentum.
“My father always found the money so that I could practice and also had to pay for my travel costs,” recalled Sandro. “It was a difficult time but I was also lucky because my family never gave up on me and I’ll always be grateful for that. When I left home I said I would return to help my parents and that vow gave me the strength to continue.”
He was a big, strong lad so played centre-forward with some success. But after a number of false starts, trials and rejections, he finally came to the attention of Inter. Again it was not the best of introductions as he was already injured on arrival but once he was fit again, the Sandro graph suddenly began to take a steep upward turn.
By now he was a defensive midfielder, using his strength and power to dominate games and always with an instinctive eye for goal. Right-footed, his excellent tackling ability soon came to a fore as he continually sought to break forward in support of the attack.
He quickly emerged through Inter’s academy ranks and by the age of 18 was promoted to full professional. He stepped up for his senior debut against Coritiba in 2008 and was called into the national team at Under-20 level. Sandro was on his way.
He won eight caps at that level including captaining the side as they lifted the South American Under-20 Championship in Venezuela in early 2009.
By now he was rated as one of the hottest talents in Brazil and having made his senior international debut and being added to his country’s stand-by squad for the recent World Cup in South Africa, it is clear that our successful move for him earlier in the year was nothing short of a major coup.
That international debut came against Chile in a World Cup qualifier after he had been on the bench for the game against Argentina last September. He went on as a 68th minute substitute for Julio Baptista in a crucial 4-2 home win and manager Dunga then named Sandro as one of seven World Cup reserves. Although, in the final analysis, he wasn’t required at that juncture, it is clear that he has a bright future with the Selecao.
As a delighted Harry Redknapp said at the time: “He’s an outstanding young player who we feel has a great future. In fact, he’s one of the brightest prospects to come out of Brazil. He’s a central midfielder who can play a defensive role, is strong and aggressive and, like all Brazilians, is a good footballer. But then, there aren’t too many bad Brazilian footballers around are there?”
Spurs legend Ossie Ardiles supported that view when he wrote in his Hotspur column last month: “Sandro is an exciting talent…a fantastic player.
“I still follow South American football very closely and he is one player who had continually impressed me. He may take a little while to adapt to football in England but when he does we’re in for a treat.”
Having made a similar move from his native Argentina in 1978 and produced such an early impact on English football himself, Ossie certainly knows what he’s talking about.
Sandro’s arrival was understandably delayed by Inter’s involvement in the Copa Librertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League which was further extended by the competition taking a break during the World Cup.
But the wait proved well worth it as Inter lifted the trophy for only the second time in the competition’s 51 year history. They beat Mexican side Guadalajara in both legs of the final to win 5-3 on aggregate – and Sandro was on his way to White Hart Lane.
On arrival here he was delighted to be greeted by fellow Brazilian international Heurelho Gomes, whose own home town Joao Pinheiro is also in the same state as Riachinho. Gomes himself arrived in European football in 2004 when he moved from Cruzeiro to PSV Eindhoven and has been a big hit at the Lane since joining us from there in July, 2008.
“It is fantastic to have someone like Gomes here,” smiled Sandro at the end of another tough training session at Spurs Lodge. “He is not only a great goalkeeper but also has a lot of experience of playing in the national team as well as European football.
“I hope that I can learn a lot from him, he is a great guy and a great character. It really makes me feel a lot more at home knowing that someone like Gomes is here.”
And Gomes is also delighted to have Sandro alongside him in the current Spurs squad – not just because of their similar home backgrounds but because, in his experienced eyes, the new arrival is a unique talent.
Said Gomes: He’s a good, young player who can do a great job for us. It may take him time to adapt because football is so different here but he is a quality player and will soon show how good he is. I’ve seen a lot of him in Brazil and I like his style. It’s a style that will suit Spurs well and I predict great things from him.”
For his own part, Sandro is a confident and likeable young man who is already taking English language lessons and determined to make an impression in the Premier League.
He explained: “It is a pleasure just to be here and I’m happy to be given the opportunity to join a club like Spurs. It is a club that holds a good deal of renown back home in Brazil where televised English football is very popular. I already knew that they are one of the well-established and biggest clubs in England and in Europe because of their history and you can feel that great footballing tradition by just walking into the stadium.
“I want to quickly show the fans here what I can do by making a positive impression to help Spurs as much as I can. I followed the club’s progress closely last season, cheering them on from home and hoping that they would take that fourth place in the League. When it happened, it was an absolutely fantastic moment.
“I know that the club has everything it needs to go on to further success and I will do everything I can to help. The Premier League is the best league in the world. It is a strong league played at great pace and I think my style of play will adapt quickly to this kind of football.
“Apart from Gomes I didn’t know anyone here on arrival but I am getting to know the players more and more each day and they have been very welcoming. I obviously already knew many of them by name but since arriving I have been very impressed by the group as a whole, including the younger players.
“There is good quality here with a strong blend of all ages and nationalities and obviously it can only help having such a talented squad. It not only bodes well for the future but also means that every player has to perform to his highest standard at all times just to get a game and that in itself can only be positive.
“The training is enjoyable and not too different from at home in Brazil but there we had two sessions a day so it is more intense here and everyone gives 100 per cent consistently. I like that and I’ll be even happier as I play more games.”
And that takes us back to the early part of this story. With Internacional enjoying such pan continental success, was it difficult to leave at a time when they prepared to build on that triumph? Sandro takes a typically open-minded and rational view.
“Yes because I have many friends there but I have left them on a high and that was important to me. However I am ambitious and now I move on – knowing that I can always go back there in the knowledge that I played my part in that Copa Libertadores success.
“That was a fantastic moment and I was delighted to win it with teammates who I have been with for many years. Inter helped me grow as a footballer and person from a very young age and it was a great achievement but now I hope to have many more successes with my new team.
“When I first came over to sign, all I wanted to do was to get started here with Spurs as quickly as possible. But I was also very aware that I needed to stay with Inter for just a little bit longer. I wanted to leave as a champion and that’s what I did. The Copa Libertadores is the biggest competition in South America so our success was massive.
“Yes it was a big decision for many reasons but now I’m very happy because I sense that there is so much more ahead for me. As a professional, the next step is always the most important. I am not a person that lives in the past, I’ve always looked forward and that’s why I’m here.”
Win Sandro’s signed shirt
One lucky reader has the chance to win one of Sandro’s signed match shirts in our latest exclusive and free-to-enter competition.
To enter all you have to do is log on to http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/competitions/sandro
and answer the following question:
What is the nickname of Sandro’s former club, Internacional ?
Don’t delay, the competition closes on Friday, November 12. The winner will be announced in the December issue of Hotspur. Entries can also be sent by post to: Sandro Competition at our publications department address on page five.
The magazine is available to buy from Friday by visiting this link: