No matter how difficult it was for the right wingers to approach Brazil and Real Madrid left back Roberto Carlos in his prime, off the field he does not appear to be someone to be afraid of!
Carlos arrived at the Press Centre yesterday with a broad smile even as excited mediapersons started behaving like fans, seeking an autograph.
The Sao Paolo native spoke in Portuguese, which a Portuguese TV journalist was kind enough to translate.
Colombia's James Rodriguez leads the list of top goal-scorers at this World Cup with five goals from four matches so far. Colombia face Brazil in the quarter-finals on July 5. Pic/AFP.
On Brazil’s prospects at the tournament, Carlos said: “Brazil is not playing that well. They struggled against Chile. In the quarter-final, there will be problems since Luiz Gstavo is suspended. James Rodriguez is in the form of his life. Either Fernandinho or Paulinho should take care of him in Fortaleza.”
For Carlos, James (pronounced ‘Khaa-mes’ by him) is definitely the star of this World Cup so far. “He has surprised me with his performance here. The first goal he scored against Uruguay was superb. It will be exciting to have him in Real Madrid next season, though I don’t know much about his contracts,” added Carlos who played for Brazil in three World Cups — 1998, 2002 and 2006.
Brazil won the title in 2002, and in 1998 as well as in 2002, Carlos was a part of two crucial incidents that eventually went on to decide Brazil’s outcome in the tournament. Just before the 1998 final, striker Ronaldo fell ill and Carlos was his roommate. There are many theories about the that Ronaldo-saga, but according to a BBC report, Carlos said: “Ronaldo was scared about what lay ahead. The pressure had got to him and he couldn’t stop crying. Later, he was the one to call the team doctor when the situation got worse.”
France beat Brazil 2-0 in the 1998 final. Then in 2006, Zinedine Zidane, whom incidentally Carlos had assisted in scoring the memorable 2002 Champions League winner for Real Madrid, essayed a perfect pass to French teammate Thierry Henry to score the winner in the quarter-final while Carlos was caught off-guard right next to Henry.
A career spanning 125-matches for Brazil came to a sad end after Carlos was blamed by all and sundry for that goal and consequently Brazil’s ouster from the 20-06 tournament.