When the final whistle sounds on a major tournament final, it inevitably triggers joy for some and despair for others. That contrast in the emotions generated by the game of football was revealed once more on Saturday, when extra-time came to an end in the showpiece match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015. As Serbia’s jubilant players rushed to embrace each other in disbelief, Brazil’s beaten warriors tumbled to the floor, overcome by the sadness of defeat.
“Losing the way we did really hurts,” said Brazil skipper Danilo, talking exclusively to FIFA.com and reflecting the air of desolation in the Canarinha camp.
“We created a lot of chances throughout the game but we didn’t have the luck you need to put them away,” he continued. “That’s what football is all about, though. You only have two options: victory or defeat. We went behind and then pulled level, but we had no chance after their second went in. Our legs were tired and our heads went down. We tried and tried and tried, but the goal wouldn’t come.”
The midfielder did not greet defeat with tears, however. His job as captain was to console his stricken team-mates and to speak on their behalf: “I could say millions and millions of words to them and it wouldn’t do anything to alleviate that feeling in our hearts. I gave them a hug and consoled them as much as I could, but giving them a lift is a pretty difficult job right now.”
Sunlight amid the gloom
While all was sadness around him, there was some good news for the No5, who listened in as Serbia’s Sergej Milinkovic was announced the winner of the adidas Bronze Ball before hearing that he had been awarded the Silver Ball as the second best player of the tournament.
I’d swap my Silver Ball for a winner’s medal and the sight of my team-mates celebrating victory.
Reflecting on a deserved accolade, the skipper said: “The fact is I’d swap my Silver Ball or even the Golden Ball for a winner’s medal and the sight of my team-mates celebrating victory. That’s priceless for me and you can’t compare it to anything. Even so, I’m very grateful to have won the award and it goes without saying that it’s very positive for me.”
In taking stock of Brazil’s campaign, Danilo had this to say: “Overall I think it’s been a positive experience for us. When we came here, people didn’t expect that much from us, and there were even a few who wrote us off altogether. In the end we knocked out some pretty good teams on the way to the final. Obviously, we wanted to be the champions. We wanted things to turn out differently, but we’re just going to have to come to terms with this result.”
Sadly for the Sporting Braga midfielder, this is not the first time he has experienced that sinking feeling at the end of a World Cup tournament.
“This is the second world finals where I’ve come away empty-handed,” he explained, that first competition having been the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013. “Naturally, this hurts more because we reached the final and the expectations were higher. That said, I’m satisfied with my performance. I gave it all I had in every game, in every training session and right throughout the tournament.”
He added: “I can take consolation from the fact that I did my very best. I’m proud of the team and a little frustrated on a personal level because I always set out to succeed in everything I do.”
The grounded Danilo can also take heart from the fact that his burgeoning career still has a very long way to run and that he will surely have many more opportunities to come out smiling when there is a trophy at stake.