Having worked on a host of major construction projects, today Francisco das Chagas Lopes, or simply Mestre (Master) Para, is head of construction at the Arena de Sao Paulo. Immensely proud to be involved in the new stadium, he believes that Itaquera, the district in which it is located, will develop exponentially after the project has been completed.

The manager’s track record certainly lends credence to his prediction. Mestre Para has been involved in the construction of three metro lines in Portugal, various dams in Chile as well as thermo-electric plants in Brazil. However, one project in particular – an automobile plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo – left an indelible impression on him and has convinced him that this part of the city will prosper in the future.

The plant is one of the most important in Brazil and is significant for its role in the development of the Sao Bernardo do Campo municipality in Sao Paulo state. After arriving in 1971 he worked there until 1974 and opted to put down roots in the city, which he has seen expand from some 400,000 residents at the time to over one million today, due largely to its industrial development.

Back then, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who would later become Brazil’s president, was a simple plant operative who often joined Francisco and other workers for games in a nearby field. “He says he’s a decent player but he wasn’t that good at the time," says Mestre Para of the former head of state. "That said, he was always passionate about the game.”

“Sao Bernardo do Campo grew at an extraordinary rate, and I believe the same thing will happen with Itaquera. Sao Paulo will benefit, and football even more so. These days a lot of people are moving to the eastern zone, because this sector is going to increase in value immensely,” he adds.

Speaking from the site where the stadium is taking shape, the head of construction is convinced the project will be a resounding success. Having driven the first machine onto the green-field site, he can now see the concrete structure starting to go up.

“I knew the project would advance rapidly. Soon it will all be done, and it will be beautiful,” he promises.

The construction manager is extremely organized and commands the respect of his workers, who have only good things to say about him. Many remark on his experience and patience as well as his ability to be firm when needed.

“When someone applies for a job, the things I look for are his or her professional qualifications and the length of time worked on previous projects. Those that spend three months here and another three there are generally not worth bothering with. I want to be able to count on someone from start to finish,” he says.

Despite being a Corinthians supporter, Mestre Para thinks it will be a Santos player who will be the star of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ and who will light up this stadium when it hosts the Opening Game on 12 June 2014.

“I fancy Brazil to win 3-0 with Neymar being the star of the show. He’s very daring and courageous. I only wish he played for Corinthians,” he concludes with a smile.