Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team
Brazilian football legend to judge Red Bull Street Style World Final in Warsaw.
Roberto Carlos da Silva has backed compatriot Neymar Jr to soon be the best player in the world.
The former Real Madrid defender played with legends of the game like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane and believes every club in the world needs a player like the PSG striker.
Da Silva, who will judge the seventh edition of the world’s premier freestyle event, talks below in an exclusive Q&A about childhood skills, freestyling and Neymar Jr.
Here is all you need to know:
– Competitors from 50 nations will face off at Warsaw’s iconic Hala Gwardii on November 22 to discover the best men’s and women’s freestyle footballers.
– The 2002 FIFA World Cup champion will join a panel of sporting stars to judge elite athletes, who will blend innovation with extraordinary skills.
– Known as The Bullet Man for left-footed free kicks that ripped through the air at over 169 kmh, da Silva will follow the likes of fellow football legends Edgar Davids, Fabio Cannavaro and Raí in the judging hot seat.
– As well as 125 caps for Brazil, da Silva won four La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League trophies during his stellar Real Madrid club career.
– The 45-year-old declared: “I’m excited to be one of the judges. It’s a new challenge for me and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve already been to Poland in the past, so it’s great to come back to a lively city like Warsaw. I’m not sure if I could do all their tricks myself: I’m convinced it would be difficult even for other amazing guys I’ve played with in my career!”
– The Street Style tournament format, comprising of three minutes, two players and one ball, puts equal weight on creativity, technical skills and style.
– Two defending champions will be on show with 2016 winner Carlos “Charly” Iacono of Argentina lining up and Mélody Donchet, the French queen of freestyle who wants a hat-trick of consecutive crowns.
Exclusive Q&A with Roberto Carlos da Silva
1. How crucial is street football in the way Brazilian national teams have played over the years?
I think us Brazilians owe a big deal of our skills to having played in the street and on the beach as kids. I believe this has helped us to improve our ball control and our vision of the game. Historically, the Brazilians have always been among the best in the world from a technical point of view.
2. Which player that you played with or against had the most natural talent with the ball at their feet?
That’s a tricky question, because I’ve played with many amazing footballers. If I had to choose, I would pick Robinho, Ronnie (Ronaldinho), Ronaldo (Nazário) and Zizou (Zinedine Zidane). They’re the players that have impressed me the most with the ball at their feet.
3. How excited are you by the boom in women’s freestyling as Red Bull Street Style celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018?
I am really impressed by their quality and the tricks they do, not only in football but in every sport. I’m a big fan of women’s footvolley, for instance: I think it’s a really spectacular sport.
4. Fun is a hugely important element of freestyling. Do you think modern football has lost some of that fun element and is driven by too much money now?
I don’t think money is the issue here: creativity with the ball is a gift you either have or not, it must come out naturally. Footballers have improved a lot in recent times, and hence the game has become super fast. Professional football is so demanding and the intensity is so high that players simply don’t have much time to try nice tricks. It’s true, though, that from the point of view of the show it would be nice to see more fancy ball controls and cool passes in the games.
5. You revolutionised the full-back position in your career. Are you proud of how full-backs are now seen as both crucial attackers and defenders?
I believe that we kind of changed the system, the way full-backs play. Years ago, our position was more tactical, more fixed: when a full-back went up to attack, the other stood behind. I think that players like me helped make this concept evolve. Full-backs don’t only defend or only attack anymore, but instead they do both things constantly during the game. Now they need to go up and down the pitch at the same speed. I’m glad to have been able to contribute in this change and the modernisation of the position.
6. Do you think Real Madrid fans would get behind Neymar Jr if he ever joined the club?
I think every single club on earth would like to have a player like him. He’s an incredible footballer with amazing skills and I believe he will soon be the best in the world. Footballers like him are what not just my club, Real Madrid, but all the greatest teams in the world need.
7. Which talented young players in South America do you think the big European clubs will be looking to tempt over next?
South American footballers are incredibly good: Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, there are countless players of an amazing quality in all those countries. Mentioning particular names is not easy, but I believe that generally speaking South American football is getting back to what it used to be. We expect to see new youngsters with the skills and the attitude to become great champions. This is precisely what we hope will happen at Real Madrid with players like Vinicius Junior, who has already made his debut with the first team, or like Rodrygo, who is currently on loan at Santos in Brazil.