Rodrigo: I would give my life to win this World Cup
Rodrigo became the first defender in history to score 100 international goals
The Brazil captain discusses the landmark, Ferrao and their title hopes
He explains his decision to retire from international futsal after Lithuania 2021
At 19, Rodrigo Hardy was combining his studies with a day job. Now, at 37, he’s doing the same. If you’re thinking not much has changed, you’re further from the truth than Campinas is from Palanga. Back then, Rodrigo was an office boy for an accountancy firm, schooling himself for a career in numbers. Now, his study hall is a hotel room; his profession is captain of the Brazil national futsal team. Numbers, nevertheless, continue to mark the life of Rodrigo. On Thursday, indeed, he controverted mathematical probability to become the first defender in futsal history to score 100 international goals. ‘Human Torpedo’ took a break from studying for a physical education degree in the room of the luxury spa in which the Seleção are staying to chat to FIFA.com about the landmark, his thunderous shot, Ferrao, Brazil’s trophy chances and his decision to retire from international futsal after the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021™.
How did it feel to score your 100th goal for Brazil? I’m not someone who thinks a lot about individual milestones, but it was really special. The commemorations I received from the CBF, the congratulations from FIFA meant a lot. The shirt [the CBF] gave me… that will stay in my family for generations and generations. For a defender to score 100 goals, it’s not easy. I spoke to my family afterwards. My parents were very emotional, they couldn’t even get their words out! I think if I was the parent, I’d be the same. So I feel very proud and I hope my kids, grandkids, great-grandkids will be proud when they see the shirt.
You’re nicknamed ´Human Torpedo’ and there have been a lot of stats over the years about your shot travelling at ridiculous speeds. Do you think you have the hardest shot in futsal? (pauses) It’s difficult to say. Ferrao can wallop a ball too. I’d put myself up there, in the top ten. I think what I have in my arsenal that’s different is the ability to shoot from the toe. Very few players can execute toe-pokes like me. What do you think of Ferrao? The best player in the world by a distance. He was already an outstanding player, but these last couple of years he’s taken his game to another level. He’s got it all. He’s great with his back to goal, his ability to turn is like nothing you see in futsal, he can shoot with both feet. He’s raised the bar in futsal. He’s magnificent and the Seleção has to take advantage of this exceptional form he’s in.
Have you got the chance to see much of other teams, and if you had to pick just one, who are Brazil’s biggest rivals for the trophy? Absolutely, we’re watching all the games. Obviously you have Spain, Iran, Russia, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil. But any team that reaches the knockout phase can win it. It’s a World Cup, anyone can beat anyone – it’s not like it used to be. We will treat every knockout-phase game like it’s the final. I don’t think I can single out one [biggest rival], but I’ll give you two. Spain. They have a great history, a very strong side and have gone a long time without the title, so they’ll be determined to regain it. And Argentina, who have excellent players and an excellent team. Have you received support from other Brazilian sportspeople? So many great athletes from Brazil are supporting us. Gabigol, Richarlison, Felipe Melo. We always support the beach soccer team and now they’re supporting us. Bruninho from volleyball, the women’s Olympic volleyball team. It feels like one big family. Things have changed so much since the CBF took us over.
You came third in the Best Player in the World voting last year. Why did you decide to retire from international futsal after this tournament? I will be 40 at the next World Cup. I think to wear this shirt you have to be able to give something back. I don’t want to be picked just because I’ve been captain of the Seleção for a while, because of my reputation. If I was playing for a lesser futsal nation, I think I could play in the World Cup at 40. But Brazil has such incredible talent. It was a hard decision, I know it will hurt, but I feel it was the right one. Playing in the World Cup, it’s unique, indescribable. The players that are coming through deserve to have this amazing experience. It’s not right that somebody misses out on this because they took a player based on what he’d done for the Seleção in previous years. How would you like people to remember Rodrigo from the Seleção? As the captain they dreamed of having. You’re can’t just put the armband on and say you’re a leader. You have to show your team-mates that you are. I try to go out and back up my words. I hope when they remember me they remember ‘Capita’, a captain they dreamed of having.
How does it feel to know your time in the Brazil shirt is coming to an end? I’m counting down every second. After every game I think, ‘That’s another 40 minutes gone’. I know my time is coming to an end. It makes me emotional but I want to make sure I go out with the title. Will Brazil win the title? I will give my life to win this World Cup. If it needs it, I will rip my heart out and exchange it for the trophy. It would be magnificent for us. We’re experiencing a different life with the CBF badge on our shirts. Futsal’s exposure, level has changed a lot. We’re not fighting for ourselves, our families, the coaching staff. We’re fighting for a cause: to grow futsal in our country. For so long it depended solely on players’ dreams. Now we have infrastructure. Things are already changing, but this title would make them change much quicker.