Zico Supports Singapore for ASEAN Super League
All-Time leading goal scorer at the renowned Maracanã with 333 goals, 508 goals in Flamengo’s history, 48 goals in 71 appearance for the country - fourth highest goal scorer for the famous Selacão, a Legend
All-Time leading goal scorer at the renowned Maracanã with 333 goals, 508 goals in Flamengo’s history, 48 goals in 71 appearance for the country – fourth highest goal scorer for the famous Selacão, a Legend whom the Brazilians called the “White Pele”, arguably the best Playmaker in the early eighties who could bend in goals from all angles, Arthur Antunes Coimbra, popularly known as Zico, sat down with Junpiter Futbol and spoke about Brazilian futebol, Pele, Japan National Team and as well as Singapore football!
Z: When God wants to create a footballer, he puts all the good characters of a footballer in Pelé. Nobody knows anything about Brazil but because Pelé is a Brazilian, everyone around the world knows Brazil. However, one troubling thing is when Pelé is no more longer playing, everyone wants another Pelé. Despite that, Pelé still managed to open up the doors for all Brazilians to the rest of the world. No doubt, Pelé is the greatest player of all time and personally, I am proud to be a Brazilian.
JPF: You have achieved so much during your playing time, which has to your biggest regret and which is your best achievement?
Z: My biggest regret is the missing out of 1972 Olympic in Munich. I was performing well during the Olympic Qualifying Round but unfortunately my name was not on the final list to Munich. For my biggest achievement, it has to be playing for my one and only favorite club, Flamengo for more than 20 years. Without Flamengo, I will not be able to progress and represent Brazil at the International stage.
JPF: We know that Maracanã Stadium has a special place in your heart. Junpiter Futbol was also fortunate to be there at Maracanã to catch a game of World Cup in June. Are you able to share with us what does playing football at Maracanã mean to you?
Z: Maracanã is like a Home to me. Even my opponent would tell me I am Player of Maracanã – everytime I play at Maracanã we will always win! You know Flamengo has a lot of supporters, we do not have our own Stadium, not even now, and so the only place we could play in Rio de Janeiro is at Maracanã, haha! During my time, Maracanã is the biggest Stadium. On average, we have about 150,000 – 160,000 Flamengo supporters cheering for us at Maracanã. I would not be surprised that I actually played 5-6 times in the top-10 highest crowd attendance in Maracanã’s history. That’s of course if you play more regularly at Maracanã, you would have more opportunities of breaking the records there. I am the All-Time top scorer at Maracanã, I scored the most number of goals in a single match at Maracanã, I won the most number of league titles at Maracanã and I was even awarded with a statue at Maracanã. I am just thankful to God and Flamengo who gave me all these.
JPF: In your opinion, what is one big difference of managing a Club and a Country?
Z: The availability of the players. Despite having all the best players in the National Team, you will probably have maximum 5 days with them prior to any match. Therefore, if you want to build a good (National) team, you will need 3 years or so, even if the best players from each individual club are injury-free. On the other hand, a good team (Club) could be built up within 3 months. In addition, while managing a Club, you will get to correct the mistakes the team or a player make on a daily basis but that will not be possible if you are managing a Country.
JPF: Why FC Goa?
Z: The Hero Indian Super League, (ISL) team was very sincere and they traveled all the way to Brazil to present me with their proposal. Football is getting bigger in the country and with such a beautiful proposal and plan, it will always be memorable especially as the pioneer of the professional league. In fact, whatever plans they have proposed to me back in Brazil, the plans are slowly materializing. With more and more crowd coming for the matches, things are definitely looking good and positive. I have no clue if I will be back in India again but I am extremely happy to be part of this big moment and contributing to the development of Indian football now.
JPF: During your 4 years regime with Japan National Team, was there any player whom you would expect to go all the way to make an impact at the International stage but eventually did not make it?
Z: No, every player from my time did very well. Nakata (Hideotshi) won the Championship with Roma in Italy, Nakamura (Shunsuke) won the Championship with Celtics in Scotland, Inamoto (Junichi) was with Arsenal in England and Takahara (Naohiro) was with Hamburg SV in Germany. Then, we had many other players, who were conditioned and capable of playing in Europe but probably because of their Japanese humble culture, many were shy, they did not express themselves to their full potential on the pitch. In football, that does not work. For example, in Germany typically players go up to their fans after every match to show their appreciation by cheering with them, Japanese players will be shy to do that. Not any more now, the new generation of Japanese players are more outgoing and understand what are expected from them, which is good.
JPF: How much do you know about Singapore football?
Z: I know Singapore football very well, haha! I know that well because I have played against Singapore many times – with Japan in 2004 and Iraq in 2012. Because of that I have been to Singapore many times, haha! Singapore is a small country just like Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. I always thought that it might be good for the countries at the Southeast Asia to form a league together, and that could strengthen the football in the region. I can see that Singapore has put in effort by building a new Stadium which Japan has played Brazil recently although I have also heard that the pitch was not in the most perfect condition.
JPF: Any advice for young players who inspired to be a professional footballer playing for their country?
Z: Young players have to train hard to get their football fundamentals right, be it technical, tactical or even physical, they have to train hard. Nowadays, only the elite players will be picked, so young players have to train hard to be in that category in order to be picked.
JPF: Pelé or Maradona?
Z: Hahaha… Maybe Maradona is the best in my generation but absolutely no comparison to Pelé – Pelé is still the best! There are people would say Garrincha could be even better than Maradona!
Zico autographing on a Brazil National Team top for Junpiter Futbol. Special thanks to Playmaker.