Marcelo has admitted he remains “in awe” of playing for Real Madrid despite being at the club for 11 years, and has promised Brazil will get back to the top of the game in the 2018 World Cup is Russia.
Marcelo, who is widely considered the best left-back in the world, has lifted three Champions League crowns with the Bernabeu club since taking over on left for club legend and personal idol Roberto Carlos more than a decade ago.
The Brazil international has been a regular member of Tite’s Selecao sides that have restored the country’s footballing reputation while becoming the first nation — other than hosts Russia — to qualify for the 2018 tournament next summer.
In an essay penned for The Players’ Tribune on Wednesday, the swashbuckling former Fluminense man described his unlikely journey to Real Madrid from humble beginnings in Rio de Janeiro and said, despite all he’s accomplished, his admiration for the 12-time Champions League winners has yet to fade.
He wrote: “Sometimes I wake up and I think, ‘Eleven seasons for Real Madrid. Eleven years playing for Brazil. For a crazy attacking fullback like me. How am I still here?’
“If I told you it was normal, I would be lying.
“Every day when I show up at training and park my car and walk into that Real Madrid locker room, it’s a giant emotion. Even if I don’t show it, inside I feel it so deeply. I am still in awe by it every day.
“For me to be a part of this club’s legacy is priceless.”
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) September 6, 2017
Marcelo credited key figures, past and present, for giving him the confidence and freedom to play the attacking game that has become his staple.
“I took inspiration from him on the pitch, too. Roberto Carlos would go up and down that left wing like a beast,” Marcelo wrote. “Whether you love me or you hate me, you know what you’re getting when I’m out there. I love to attack. No, not just attack. A-TTACK, you know?
“And then later on, in the back? If we got a problem, we’ll fix it. We’ll figure it out. But first, we attack.
“You can only play with this kind of freedom if you have a good understanding with your partners. Fabio Cannavaro would play on my side, and he’d say to me, ‘You can go, Marcelo. I’m here. Kick off your shoes. Relax. I’m Cannavaro. I got this.
“It’s like Casemiro does with me nowadays. ‘Go ahead, Marcelo. We’ll worry about the other stuff later.’
“Ahhhh, Casemiro. He saved my life. I might play until I’m 45 with this guy by my side.
“When I first got to Madrid, Cannavaro helped me loosen up a lot. The rule was that I could attack as long as I sprinted back. But if I was late? Man, then it got real. The man could yell. In Brazil, we have an expression. Pegava no pé. It’s like, you’re hard on them for a reason.
“Cannavaro was hard on me for a reason, and I love him for that.”
Despite all the highs in his career, Marcelo has also experienced a number of lows. He was part of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup team that was humiliated on home soil, ultimately losing to eventual champions Germany 7-1 in the semifinals.
But he says Brazil are a different side under new coach Tite, who led an entertaining Selecao to nine straight World Cup qualifying victories — and easy qualification — before Tuesday’s draw in Colombia.
Citing World Cup glory as his “final mission,” Marcelo promised: “At the 2018 World Cup, Brazil is coming back. Write it down. Put a stamp on it. Mail it to yourself.
“With Tite as our manager, I truly believe we can bring the Brazilian flag back to the highest level.
“I can tell you that Tite is a phenomenal person.
“In fact, when he took the job, he called me and said, ‘I’m not promising you that I will call on you, but if I do, are you still willing to play for the national team?’
“I said, ‘Professor, just the fact that you are calling me — for me that’s a giant emotion. I’ve been playing for the national team since I was 17. I would get on 20-hour flights sitting in the middle seat, and now that I’m sitting up in the good seat, you think I’m not gonna go? I’m available whenever you need me.’
“That call for me was everything. It was the first time I ever got a call from a national team manager, and I’ve been in the national team for 11 years. I would kill for Tite, and I’m going to do everything I can do to put a little gold trophy in my grandfather’s cabinet.”
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