LaLiga Santander Was interviewed by MARCA
Casemiro with the Bernabéu in the background.
Chema Rey MARCA
One of the most authoritative voices in the dressing room is midfielder Real Madrid Casemiro.
When he talks both publicly and privately, people often listen and that was the case when he sat down with MARCA.
He discussed a variety of topics as he sat down at the offices of Best of You, his communications agency.
Do you remember your first day at Madrid?
People didn’t know me. There were one or two journalists at the airport. Someone from the club picked me up and took me to a hotel near the [Santiago] Bernabeu. I remember the dream I had to succeed. I landed at 6am and I had to train. In the good times and in the bad, I always think about the first day I arrived and try not to forget where I came from, where I was before and the dreams I had [before joining Los Blancos].
Six years later, you’re a star at Real Madrid. Did you imagine that would happen?
One always dreams, like many other players. But not all dreams come true. Now I’m living a daily dream with how I am.
Did Jose Mourinho change everything for you in 2013 with your debut?
I’m very fond of that game and what happened before. I was going to go with the first team, but I didn’t think I would play and, at the most, I expected to have a few minutes. But the day before, Jose Mourinho called me into his office. I sat down and he said, ‘Do you see that blackboard?’ It had the starting XI on it and my name was there. ‘You’re going to play,’ he announced. During the talk we had, he told me so many good things about me as a player and gave me so much confidence that I went onto the pitch thinking I was the best midfielder in the world. It was the main reason the game went so well.
What analysis do you make of the team’s difficult season?
We’re not in a good situation but I always say that Madrid returns, and we will return. We don’t lick our wounds and what we do is ready ourselves to come back.
Are you surprised that there is talk of revolution? Talk of the end of cycles and people asking for changes?
People can say whatever they want. After three years of winning titles, this team deserves a lot of credit and the Bernabeu is with us.
Do you think the you can improve the squad and bring in better players than there are?
Look, I’ll make a summary. The goalkeepers we have: incredible. Our right-back: in the top three in the world. The two centre-backs are two of the world’s best three, and our left-back is the best player in the world. Luka Modric is the best in the world and we have Toni Kroos and Casemiro. For me, this year Karim Benzema has been spectacular – his best season by far. Gareth Bale has given us many titles. There is Vinicius [Junior], Marco Asensio, Isco, Alvaro Odriozola. We have great players. The issue is that we have all failed [to meet expectations this season].
But what has failed for the team to have fallen in this way?
Those who have failed are the same ones who have won four Champions Leagues in five years. When we win, we all win; and when we lose, we all lose. This year, we all failed. We know that the year hasn’t been good because at Madrid, you are always bound to win.
Why is it so hard for the team to compete in LaLiga Santander?
Two years ago, we won it with Zizou. There are ways of looking at things. We can also say that we have won four of the last five Champions League titles. We know that the Champions League is something different at this club; we live for it and that is why we have 13. But we also have 33 league titles. There are also opponents who want to win too and that’s what makes things difficult. When we start the season, we want to win everything but unfortunately, in recent years, we have only won one league title.
Did you feel orphaned without Zidane? Was his departure a blow that the team couldn’t come to terms with?
Our coach is an icon of the club. Not only as a player but also as a coach. [Zinedine] Zidane has shown that he is more than a coach. For the team, Zidane never left – he left his way of playing. He surely suffered with us at this time and that’s why he returned. Zidane hadn’t left.
What was the feeling when you saw him again at Valdebebas? What does he transmit?
Zidane never left, and we’ve always had a huge affection for him. He conveys love and returned normally, being the same Zizou as always.
Are you convinced that he will make you champions again?
He is one of the keys to winning titles and has already shown that in recent years. With him we’re surely going to fight for titles.
Do you feel like a soldier of Zidane? His most loyal soldier?
Not only with him. I’m a soldier of [Santiago] Solari, [Julen] Lopetegui, [Rafael] Benitez, [Carlo] Ancelotti… My key as a player is that: to be the coach’s soldier. I am their soldier and I’ll always give my all for them.
We have no news of a renewal for you. In theory, your contract ends in June 2021. Are there contacts to extend?
[Laughter] I’ll be in Madrid as long as the club loves me, and I want to be here too. There has always been loyalty on both sides. If the player wants to be here and the club want him to be here, it will go hand in hand and we’ll continue together.
Does it bother you, or do you feel it is unfair, that you have the reputation as a hard man player?
Nothing bothers me. I’m like that and I’ll play like that because if I got here playing that way then I don’t intend to change. I’ll never change.
Would you have liked Cristiano Ronaldo to be more affectionate in his memories of Madrid and his teammates after leaving?
Everyone says what they like. Cristiano is a legend of the club and here, he always gave his best to win, but now he is no longer here. He has our respect.
How do you rate your year?
It is weird, but Madrid always come back. Now we have 10 league games that we want to win and then next season we’ll return.
What’s the most curious thing that Eder Militao has asked you about Madrid?
He asked some normal things like you do in these cases such as where to live but Militao’s head isn’t already in Madrid and he’s focussed on Porto. I congratulate him for that attitude. Of course, Madrid have signed a great player.
Do you get nervous when you talk to Zidane? Vinicius commented on that the other day…
I’ve grown up watching Zidane play. He was my idol. It isn’t that I get nervous, but I do feel great respect. He’s a great tactician and was a great player.
Speaking of Vinicius, how do you view him? And what do you think of Rodrygo Goes?
First of all, we congratulate the club for signing talented young players who will be here for a long time, 12 or 15 years. With Vini, we have an 18-year-old wizard. He has already shown that he’s a great player. It isn’t normal being so young and being so successful – he is phenomenal. The goals will come for him. We didn’t believe that he would develop so quickly. He exceeded all expectations and always listens and wants to learn. Rodrygo is another great bet on the club for the future.
Can you teach him how to score because this season hasn’t been too bad for you in terms of goals?
I’ll leave that to Benzema or Bale [laughs]! I know what my job is and it isn’t showing people how to score goals. Vinicius is spectacular and he will bring much joy to Real Madrid.
It is inevitable that we ask about Neymar. Every summer or every transfer market he is talked about in relation to Real Madrid.
I have great respect for [Paris Saint-Germain] and for Neymar. I don’t think it is right to talk about them and especially about a player who isn’t here [at the club]. If Neymar wants to come to Real Madrid then he will say that, we shouldn’t do it ourselves. He’s a great player who is at a great club and we have to respect both parties.
What do you think of a player like Luka Modric saying there have been players who haven’t lived up to it?
Everyone can think what they want. I’m more of the line that when we win, we all win here and when we lose, we all lose. Of course, there may be times when some are better than others but we all win together. When we have won the Champions League, everyone is happy and it is logical that when we lose, everyone is angry and sad. Now, we’re all angry and I’m glad. We’re all angry. Luka is a winner and that’s why he said that.
Isco, Marcelo, Odriozola, Keylor Navas, Vinicius. Has there been injustices with some teammates this season? Has the atmosphere not been right in the dressing room?
Every coach has his way of working. If you don’t play, you have to work and have patience because we’re all important. Myself, when Marcos Llorente played, I was happy for him. When we win, we all win. We’re a team.
Did you feel that Llorente could take your place? How is the competition with him?
He’s a player of the same profile as me. He played some very good games and is a great player. I have never felt like an absolute certain starter and that’s why I always try to win my place with each game.