Officially unveiled as Brazil's capital in 1960, Brasilia went through a significant transformation in its early years with this status. Even so, it provided the ideal scenario for a young lad dreaming of making it as a footballer, with wide streets, space aplenty and little crime - meaning every square or strip of land could quickly become a pitch hosting games from morning until night.
A fixture in many of these kickarounds was future Brazil international Marcio Amoroso, whose parents were among the vast numbers of migrants taking advantage of the change in capital city to try for a new and better life. As this influx of humanity helped shape and give the modern metropolis a unique flavour, so Amoroso’s talent developed too – to the extent that a yearned-for future in the game would come within his reach.
The gifted striker first shone at Sao Paulo club Guarani, before tasting Japanese football and later flourishing in Italy and Germany – particularly during goal-laden sojourns at Udinese and Borussia Dortmund. Having also starred for Sao Paulo, who he helped win the FIFA Club World Cup in 2005, the now 38-year-old has now returned to futsal, a discipline he excelled in as a youngster.
In an interview with FIFA.com, the well-travelled former Seleção front-man recalled those carefree days playing futsal and street football, as well as recounting the many attractions of the Brazilian capital, as part of our series on the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ and, in this case, the FIFA Confederations Cup.
FIFA.com: You left Brasilia at a young age to try your luck as a footballer, so what kind of a relationship do you have with the city now? How’s it changed since the 1980s?
Amoroso: Though my parents and brothers live in Rio de Janeiro now, some of my relatives – aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as some good friends, still live in Brasilia and it’s through them that I’m still in touch with the city, despite not going there as much as before. But you can tell that it’s grown a lot, that it’s a completely different city to the one I left back in 1989, 1990, when I went to [Guarani in] Campinas [in Sao Paulo]. One example is Lake Paranoa, which was polluted back then and is now clean. When I was little I wouldn’t have thought that would happen. And, if you look at other areas, such as gastronomy and culture, it’s easy to see that Brasilia’s grown and become a really interesting city on the world scene.
As someone who’s travelled the world, spending time in Japan and a number of European countries, how do you see the city in architectural and planning terms?
It’s a modern city, with wide avenues and a different style to the rest of Brazil. And the fact that it was put forward as the capital in the 1960s brought many good things over there, such as Oscar Niemeyer’s project. It’s for that reason that it continues to develop, because it’s the capital and because it’s where the government is based. I think that, if I was going to make a comparison, I’d say I’d seen similar things in the Netherlands – in cities like Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. It [Brasilia] is without a doubt a city which has a host of attractions for every taste.
Looking back, you got your first taste of the game on the streets of Brasilia. What childhood memories first come to mind?
There are so many, but the main ones are of me covering the whole of Brasilia playing football, whether it be futsal, 11-a-side or a just a kickaround: wherever there was a pitch, that was where you’d find me. My dad says that a lot of people still remember that. He still goes back every so often and there’s always someone who comes and tells him a story from those days, when I was playing in the Asa Sul neighbourhood or out in Taguatinga. And it surprises him, as he asks himself: ‘But how did he manage to get all the way over there to play, when he was just 12 or 13?’ (Laughs) He never knew at the time, but I’d leave the house and cross the whole city just to get a game. I had some good times playing futsal too and that was how I started taking part in school, club and inter-city championships. It was a good time to be in Brasilia because the city was growing, it was safe and there were a lot of people from other cities all arriving. Nowadays, when I’m playing futsal for Pulo do Gato, some of my memories from that period come flooding back. It makes me think that, if we’d had the current rules of the game back then, I’d have scored over a 1,000 goals in my career. (Laughs)
In your opinion, what are Brasilia’s leading tourist attractions?
I think that the main one is Lake Paranoa, because of the family fun it offers, the fact you can go out on boats, take part in clubs. Brasilia is a warm city by European standards and, even though it’ll be nearly winter when the Confederations Cup comes around, if the temperatures are around the 25-degree mark it’ll be ideal for them (the tourists) to take full advantage. But there’s also plenty to do at night, with the restaurants and nightclubs in Gilberto Salomao [shopping centre]. Once you get a bit outside the city, I think it’s worth pointing out that, because it’s a dry area, the vegetation is almost desert-like. But even so it’s something interesting, because it’s unusual. And there are other places to get out and about in, such as Poco Azul, which has some beautiful waterfalls and natural pools to swim in. I used to go there often myself on my bike. I’d ride for about three hours to get there, go for a dip and then come back in the evening. It was worth the effort.
In cultural terms, Brasilia had a very strong rock scene back in the ‘80s. Are you a fan of any particular band from that era?
I like bands like Legiao Urbana or Capital Inicial, who’ve had a rich history and helped make Brasilia stand out on the Brazilian artistic scene. I like them and would recommend them, but I am and always was a real reggae fan. On one of my most recent visits back to Brasilia I went to see Natiruts in concert. [Band member] Alexandre [Carlo] is my cousin and I’ve known the guys in the band since I was six. We’re like a big family. That’s why I always followed that thread, listening to them and bands like Alma Djem.
Due to being a relatively new city, Brasilia doesn’t have clubs with the same footballing history as others elsewhere. When you look back at your childhood, do you think that daily dose of football culture was lacking?
As Brasilia was put forward to replace Rio de Janeiro as Brazil’s capital, a lot of Cariocas (people from Rio and Rio state) ended up moving over there – my parents included. For that reason, there’s always been a strong bond between the two cities, so much so that you could always watch the Rio championships on TV over there. Deep down, every youngster who liked football dreamed of playing for a Carioca club and I was no different. In Brasilia, unfortunately, there wasn’t that opportunity to catch the eye nationally or globally, unless it was through playing for clubs in regional championships and later earning a call from a bigger side. That’s how it happened for a few guys such as me and Lucio, among others.