- Brazao finished third with Brazil and earned the adidas Golden Glove award
- The goalkeeper pulled off 29 saves during India 2017, including seven against Mali
- “This generation will make history,” he said
Despite Mali’s best efforts – 27 shots, ten of which were on target – they were unable to get on the scoresheet in Kolkata on Saturday. While the African champions suffered from a degree of misfortune and wayward finishing, there was another telling factor during their 2-0 defeat to Brazil in the play-off for third place at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017: Seleçao goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao.
The young shot-stopper appeared invincible at times, keeping Mali’s attack-minded players at bay with a string of impressive saves, as he did to forwards of various nationalities throughout the tournament. His efforts have now been rewarded with a bronze medal, and by the adidas Golden Glove award, an accolade bestowed upon the competition’s best goalkeeper.
“Winning this award means that my work has been recognised,” Brazao told FIFA.com with pride, after a match in which he recorded no fewer than seven crucial stops. “In a way, I think I’ve done enough to deserve it.”
It is difficult to disagree with that assessment, given his total of 29 saves in seven games for Brazil in India, which, despite not being enough to propel the South Americans into the final, did go a long way to helping his country secure third place. “We weren’t able to win the tournament in the end, but we’re among the three best teams in the world at this level, and that’s huge, not just for the players, but also for Brazilian football as a whole,” said the Cruzeiro goalkeeper.
In fact, Brazil had not clinched a top-three finish at a U-17 World Cup since 2005, when they lost to Mexico in the final. Does this return to prominence herald a bright future for Brazilian football? “Brazilian fans don’t have to worry; this generation of players is going to make history with the senior team,” he stated confidently.
Five questions for the Golden Glove winner:
- What does this award mean to a young player like you?
It’s something that will remain with me for the rest of my life; it’s incredible. But if it had been awarded to someone else, my life would have continued in the same way, and I would still have been happy to have taken part in this tournament.
- What do you think you did to deserve it?
I think I did my job well. I put in positive performances in all of our matches.
- Would you like to say anything to your Malian counterpart, Youssouf Koita, who was at fault for the opening goal?
I didn’t get the chance to talk to him, but we both play in the same position, and what happened does make me feel a little sad. When you’re a goalkeeper, there’s always a chance of making that kind of mistake, but life must go on.
- What could Brazil have done differently to beat eventual champions England in the semi-finals?
Nothing, really – England were just the better team on the day and they deserved to go through to the final. They’re a great side.
- Which players do you view as your role models?
I admire Alisson and Ederson Moraes. I would love to have their qualities.