The situation is no different at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013. In their devastating 6-1 win over Slovakia, five of Brazil’s goals came courtesy of yet another pairing, this one comprising Mosquito and Nathan, who combined to get their side’s quest for a fourth U-17 world title off to a flying start.
Given that both play for domestic side Atletico Paranaense, their ability to read one another should come as no surprise, as Brazil’s assistant coach Mauricio Copertino explained: “They play together for Atletico-PR's U-20 team. The club really back their development and they operate very well alongside one another. We saw that and so we decided to bring them together into our squad.”
And the management’s plan certainly bore fruit on Thursday night. A pass from Nathan set up Mosquito, who scored the first goal, before the striker returned the favour and, breaking into the area, delivered the ball to midfielder Nathan who smashed a shot past the hapless Slovakian goalkeeper.
The two players subsequently sat down with FIFA.com to talk about the understanding that they share on the pitch. Mosquito was first to speak: “Everything’s easy when I play with Nathan, because I know him so well. For me, there’s no mystery about it. We play well together at our club and we produce the same performances for the national side.”
Nathan concurred: “We are used to training together and we talk about tactics together, too. He makes the runs up front and I supply him with the ball.”
Mosquito, who says the lanky legs that earned him his nickname are the reason he is so quick, broke in: “It’s great for us, because I know exactly where he’ll send his passes so I can benefit from them.”
A one-of-a-kind duo
They may be able to read one another’s minds on the pitch, but off it they possess quite different personalities. While Mosquito is vocal and charming, Nathan is shyer and thinks longer before he speaks, a natural reaction, perhaps, given that this is his first time representing his country at an international tournament.
It is certainly on the young midfielder’s mind, and he seems delighted: “To be quite honest I never expected to score today, because it was my debut with the national team. I never expected it at all. But I worked hard and it just happened spontaneously out on the pitch. I’m really pleased with the win and how the boys played.”
Both young men burst out laughing when asked what they consider to be the best pairing in history of Brazilian football, and whether one day they might become legends in their own right. When he finally manages to keep a straight face, Mosquito’s answer is the soul of diplomacy: “All we want to do is be a good pair out on the pitch. One day we might be like Bebeto and Romario or Ganso and Neymar, but right now our only job is to develop and grow because we are still young.”
Nathan ends the conversation on an upbeat note: “We don’t know what pair we want to be like. What I will say is that I can’t recall any pair who were both right-footed as is the case with us. We just want to enjoy ourselves and to do things together.”
But who can tell: could UAE 2013 will be the starting point for a career that propels these two Brazilians to future stardom?