In announcing his first squad as Brazil coach, Mano Menezes called up ten new faces for next Tuesday’s friendly with USA. Figuring in the list along with hotly tipped youngsters Paulo Henrique (better known as Ganso), Neymar and Rafael was 24-year-old Lyon midfielder Ederson, who has been working hard over the close season to cement a first-team place with the seven-time French champions Lyon.
Largely unknown to the fans back in Brazil, Ederson is no stranger to the national team. Handed the captain’s armband by coach Marcos Paqueta at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Finland 2003, he led A Seleção to the title, which they claimed by beating a Spain side containing the likes of Cesc Fabregas and David Silva in the Final in Helsinki.
Speaking exclusively to FIFA.com about a call-up he himself describes as “unexpected”, Ederson discussed his career to date and his hopes for a future that looks increasingly bright.
FIFA.com: Ederson, Mano Menezes said he called all the players before finalising the list. Did he ring you and if so, what did he say?
Ederson: He called to find out how I was physically because the season hasn’t even started in Europe. He didn’t tell me I was going to be in the squad though, and I only found out when the list was announced. I was in London at the time and my brother rang to say that everyone back home was celebrating like crazy. I was so happy.
Menezes obviously knows you well. In a recent interview, he had this to say about you: “He’s a traditional midfielder who can operate on the right or the left but favours his right foot. He’s about the same height as Ganso but he plays more on the other side.” Would you agree with that?
He seems to keep a very close eye on what’s happening in national and international football. He also said he first saw me when I was with RS Futebol [Ederson’s first club]. I was only 16 or 17 then and I hadn’t turned professional. We had a good side, as did XV de Novembro, the team he was coaching.
He usually plays with two wide midfielders and has said he intends to make the national team adopt a 4-2-3-1 formation. How do you think you can fit into that system?
Lyon play a traditional 4-3-3 with a holding midfielder and two players out wide. I can play on either side in that system although we sometimes switch to 4-2-3-1, where I can move inside and tuck in just behind the striker. My tactical appreciation of the game has improved a lot since I came to Europe. I’ve learned where to position myself when the team loses possession and tries to win it back. I started out as an attacking midfielder but I don’t find it difficult to adapt at all.
The South Africa 2010 defeat to the Netherlands was only a few weeks ago yet Brazil will soon be back in action. Did you think you would get an international call-up so soon?
To be honest I wasn’t even thinking about the Brazil team right now. I’ve been focusing more on Lyon and on having a good pre-season. Even so, you’re always hoping for the call. I had an amazing experience with the U-17s and I wanted to have that opportunity again. Obviously you wait for the call for the U-20 and U-23 teams, and though I couldn’t see it happening before, I think it’s come at a good time.
Although you have not played for any Brazilian clubs or for your country since that U-17 World Cup, your signature was coveted abroad, leading to a move to Nice in 2005. Was that a good decision?
The World Cup definitely opened some doors for me, but I was young and I wanted to stay. I’d had a tough time of it at Juventude and at Inter with injuries and the like, and that’s when Nice came in for me. It was a good move because I’ve kept on making progress since then.
You did enough there to convince to Lyon to sign you, although Menezes has himself said that you have not kicked on as expected. Why is that? Is it down to the pressure of replacing the iconic Juninho?
I think I had a great first season at Lyon. I ended up playing alongside Juninho and I did a lot of things right. I made 40 appearances and played in five different positions, which meant they were getting the most out of me as a utility player. The second season was tougher. I was out for two and a half months with an injury and I played fewer games because the coach decided to rotate the team more. I only got back to my best at the end of the season.
People in France have tipped you to make your name as an attacking midfielder. Do you think you can prove them right?
To achieve that you need play and get into a rhythm. And the best way of doing that is to be confident and transmit that to the coach. Training’s no replacement for getting out there and playing but I’m feeling great, I played well in the pre-season games against Juventus and Milan. I scored three goals and set a few others up. I want to have a good year and show what I can do.
And what about Brazil?
Every player dreams about making a World Cup, especially with the next one being in Brazil. But there’s still a long way to go. What matters now is to keep doing well for my club, to win titles and to give my all every time I’m called up. That’s my long-term goal. The rest will come naturally.
You are a popular figure with the fans in France. Do you think you will get the same kind of recognition in Brazil one day?
People don’t know me in Brazil because I left early. But the best way to get yourself known is by playing well and proving your quality. I’m going to show the fans what I can do with the ball at my feet.