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Friday, February 14, 2014

Interview with Roberto Carlos of Sivasspor by Luca Bianchin

Roberto Carlos 2012.jpg
Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha.
Photo credit: Садовников Дмитрий


Roberto Carlos was interviewed in Sivas, Turkey, by Luca Bianchin of La Gazzetta dello Sport. This discussion was a detailed and different look at the man, former world-class player, and now a football coach for Sivasspor in the Turkish Super Lig.

Discussion Items
  1. An introduction by Luca Bianchin.
  2. On his first contract and Italians losing count of his wives.
  3. On his "failed marriage" with Roy Hodgson in 1996 at Inter.
  4. On the best player he faced in Italy.
  5. On the most difficult player he faced during his career.
  6. On his years with Real Madrid.
  7. On his time with Clarence Seedorf at Internazionale.
  8. On his new coaching career and his future.
  9. On his love of fast and expensive cars.
  10. On the topic of religion.
  11. On his famous free kick versus France in 1997 and the best effort with his right foot.
  12. On World Cups 1998, 2002 and 2014.
  13. On his time at Anzhi and Makhachkala.
  14. On Samuel Eto'o.
  15. On the banana incident in 2011.
Let's see what they had to say in intriguing excerpts from their discussion which was published on 11 February 2014:

1. Introduction:

File:Paşa-mosque Sivas.jpg
Paşa-mosque of Sivas.
Photo credit: 
Sar Kissatim
Sivas isn't Las Vegas. In the only large piazza of the city where only one big avenue runs through it, men gather to drink tea seated in circles. While voices are heard from the market and the muezzin who makes the call to prayers from the minaret.

Roberto Carlos lives a few minutes from the city center because in town, the king is also a foreigner. He decided on Sivas, an ancient Byzantine city, closer to Syria than to Istanbul, to begin his coaching career.

He was looking for a laboratory where he could freely make mistakes to then be able to seek out more noble cities and clubs.

In four months, however, the scenario has changed. Sivasspor is fourth in the table and last Sunday beat Fenerbahce in the "September 4th" (4 Eylül) Stadium a few kilometers from the mosque. Galatasaray and Besiktas, coming back into the race in the Super League, could thank Carlos in the Spring by offering him his first big contract as a manager.

2. On his first contract and Italians losing count of his wives:

The actual first contract, on the other hand, when was it?

In Brazil at the age of 12. Full-time in a textile factory. About 200 euro a month but it was well worth it. That place had the most beautiful girls of the city and that topic was already a sensitive one.

In effect, we have lost count of your wives in Italy?

That's an easy one: Two. The difficult one is the number of women with whom I have had children. I have eight children with six or seven different women.

How can it be six or seven?

I don't remember. Well... One was Mexican, one Hungarian, and the others were Brazilian women. Four plus two, six.

3. On his "failed marriage" with Roy Hodgson in 1996 at Internazionale:

At Inter, we remember above all the failed marriage with Hodgson in 1996.

He wanted to play me on the wing. I wanted to play fullback; however, it wasn't his fault if I only stayed there one season.

4. On the best player he faced in Italy:

Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.
Who was the best player you faced in Italy?

Francesco Totti. If we are talking in absolute terms, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo. One time in Madrid, I was coming out of a restaurant when a woman approached me. 'Ronaldo, Ronaldo, can you sign an autograph?' And I said, 'Ok, give me a piece of paper. With affection, Ronaldo.' When she found out (the truth), she went to the police to make a charge. I had to explain to the police officers that it was only a joke.

5. On the most difficult player he faced during his career:

Who was the craziest guy you ever faced in a lifetime of football?

Thomas Gravesen, the former Danish Real Madrid man. He lived at an accelerated pace. On the pitch, it was different. He would make atrocious fouls against you and then would laugh them off. But he was a great person.

6. On his years at Real Madrid:

The Real Madrid years were ones of victories: Three UEFA Champions League and a World Cup. What was your happiest day?

The day when I saved the life of Robert Carlos, Jr., my adopted son. He was five months old and had a very serious heart problem. Without an operation, he would have died in a week. Today, he is 12 years of age.

7. On his time with Clarence Seedorf at Internazionale:

Translations of Clarence Seedorf
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.
In those years, Seedorf-Roberto Carlos was a fixed pairing. Will Clarence become a good manager?

Surely, he was always a leader on the pitch. He wanted to teach everyone. Kaka' told me that Clarence understands players well but I knew that. We lived in the same house for a year and a half. He used to stay in the bathroom for three hours to style that hair (his dreadlocks) with a very bad creme. I couldn't deal with it.

Was he always that serious?

He used to ring up the neighbor's apartment and if they answered, he would say there was a pizza for them. We all had our childlike ways.

8. On his new coaching career and his future:

Image credit: Sivasspor.
Carlos, you are now instead a coaching revelation: Fourth place in the table. What are your plans for the future?

Two years in Sivas, then...

Two years?

Ah, you all already know it? Ok, one year. I have two concrete offers for next season (one from China) and with four or five others that I have already spoken to. I'll say in May where I'm going. Perhaps in Turkey; perhaps in Spain.

9. On his love of fast and expensive cars:

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 – Frontansicht (1), 5. April 2012, Düsseldorf.jpg
Photo credit: M93.
How did the the fastest car in the world, the Bugatti Veyron, end up?

I keep it in a garage in Madrid, Spain. Due to my contract, only I can drive it. Because it has more than 1,000 horsepower compared to 700 to 800 for a Formula 1 race car. It's too dangerous. And besides, I don't want anyone else to touch my car.

Have you ever driven it in the city?

That's impossible. In Brazil, I know where the radar speed traps are. In Madrid, I don't. And I'm not as impassioned as I was once before. With cars as well as watches and women. After awhile, I've had enough.

It's proper to complete a census. Is it true that you also had an airplane?

No, it was a helicopter. But in Brazil to have something that is so expensive like this, it can offend many poor people. I sold it.

10. On the topic of religion:

How does religion figure into things?

I'm very religious even if I don't attend church. No thanks. I kneel and give adoration at home. It's the same thing.

Is it also because there are only mosques in Sivas?

God is the same. Only the name changes. For us (Christians) it is Jesus Christ. Here, it is Allah (Peace be upon him.) I speak of him before every game.

11. On his famous free kick versus France in 1997 and the best effort with his right foot:

Highlights of his famous free kicks.

That time in 1997 in Lyon was generous. The free kick versus France was superhuman.

I never understood how I did it. I was using very narrow/tight boots, and surely, they helped out. The ball was very light, and that helped out. My left thigh has a circumference of 64 cm, and that also figured into things. But the kicking technique using three toes, I had tried that out a thousand times. I had never succeeded before.

What is the best thing you ever did in your career with your right foot?

To go bicycle riding because with the right foot, I pedal stronger. On the pitch, nothing at all: Two goals in 25 years. Everything that God gave me was for my left foot. He took the right foot away from me. My father was right-footed. My sons are as well and I don't even write with my left hand. My mother used to hit me on the back because I didn't learn.

Translator's Note:

Andrea Pirlo also discussed the three-toed approach to free kicks in his book, "Penso Quindi Gioco" which was reviewed at this site last year.

12. On World Cups 1998, 2002 and 2014:

Brazil National Team photo BrazilNationalTeam.jpg
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.
Let's talk about the World Cups: 1998 in France?

I was the first one to see Ronaldo's crisis on the hotel bed before the Cup final. For me, it was an epileptic seizure. I still have fear: He was trembling, rigid, all blocked up. He wasn't physically ready to play but we had a half an hour to decide. And 'Ronie' is like a God in Brazil. He had to be there.
Japan and Korea in 2002?

We were Scolari's family: All of us were friends. Cafu and Ronaldo were the leaders; I was the clown. The baby of the family.

And Brazil 2014?

Brazil is going to win. If I say anything else, they'll kill me. But Germany scares me.

13. On his time at Anzhi and Makhachkala.

Can you explain what happened at Anzhi to those who have never seen it in person?

Suleyman Kerimov had a dream to work with me and gave yours truly that mega-contract. He is a person like us but if you go to his house and ring the bell, 15 bodyguards open it. It is very dangerous there...

More so than in Makhachkala?

I was never afraid in Makhachkala. The people there are warm but the city is a joke. A real folly.

14. On Samuel Eto'o:

Is it true that it's all finished for Eto'o?

He has his own character. I have nothing against him but Samuel wants to control everything. If there are a manager and club director, you can't talk with the President to decide on things.

15. On the banana incident in 2011:

Can you discuss the banana that was thrown at you in the final between Krylya v. Anzhi in 2011?

I would have left the pitch even if it happened in the third minute of play. People have problems at home and come to the stadium and go off on rants. They took it out on me. That man who threw the banana, he then asked to take a picture with me.

How did it turn out?

He spent three months in jail. They made him eat only bananas. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

--- Luca Bianchin ( for La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator based in Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and published The Soccer Translator from 2008 to 2015. 

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