Robinho: We will give absolutely everything to lift the trophy
Robinho has been one of the stars of Lithuania 2021
He discusses facing Argentina in the 2016 final and their upcoming rematch
He wants to sign off from the FIFA Futsal World Cup stage with the trophy
Robinho knows the drill. The sorcerer performs his spellbinding tricks, gets to his hotel room, picks up the phone and hears his son waxing lyrical about magic. Magic, that is, performed by Cristiano Ronaldo. “It doesn’t matter what his dad does,” said Robinho, laughing, “it’s all about Cristiano with him.” But, to borrow the words of a Lithuanian descendant, Bob Dylan, are times a-changing in the Santos household? Robinho has illuminated this FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021™ with his wicked trickery and wonder goals against Uzbekistan and Vietnam… and piqued the interest of Ryan and Rebeca.
“My kids are really getting into the World Cup,” he told FIFA.com. “They’re watching all my games, they have Russia shirts. My daughter Rebeca is really into gymnastics, dancing but this has got her excited. “Ryan is really excited by it, seeing his dad score goals. Don’t get me wrong, Cristiano is still his inspiration, not me. I don’t think anything will ever change that. Well, maybe if I win the World Cup (laughs)." And that is exactly what the 38-year-old is targeting. FIFA.com caught up with one of the outstanding players at Lithuania 2021 to discuss the Colombia 2016 final, the upcoming RFU-Argentina showdown and whether it will be his last Futsal World Cup.
FIFA.com: Russia lost 5-4 to Argentina in the 2016 final. What do you remember of that game? Robinho: We knew next to nothing about Argentina. We weren’t used to playing against them at all. They were a superb side, but we didn’t know what they were going to be like to play against. We were considered favourites because of our history and the campaign we’d had. We eliminated Spain, we eliminated Iran, who had beaten Brazil. We were a great side who had got better and better during the competition, impressing everyone. But Argentina really know how to play the game. They don’t let the pressure get to them. When they’re losing, they play the same way. We were ahead in the final but they came back. It’s something they are incredible at. Look at the Paraguay game. They were behind for 25 minutes and, in just 15 minutes, won 6-1. They are a very, very dangerous team, a great team. Can you describe your emotions after that final? Russia had never got to a World Cup final. Getting there was historic, a big achievement. But I was devastated. Us Brazilians, we’re immensely ambitious, nothing short of the title is good enough. You work for four years with the World Cup in mind. We had such an incredible campaign. To lose in the final, in such a close game, left us gutted. You know the next World Cup is four years away, you know what you will have to go through to reach another final. It’s hard to get yourself up for that. Fortunately I did and I’m here trying to reach another final, but it was difficult to shake that defeat to Argentina from my mind.
What do you expect from the quarter-final? We’ve managed to maintain the bulk of the side from 2016. I think we’re better experienced, prepared to face Argentina. Most of our squad is based in Russia. We all know each other’s game very well, whereas some other big teams have players all over the world. Can we expect to see Eder Lima against Argentina? It’s difficult to get yourself right physically to play in a World Cup, with its tempo, when you’ve been out for a while. But we’re working hard with him and we hope he’s ready to play [against Argentina]. He’s obviously an incredible player, so having him will be a big plus for us.
You scored wonder goals against Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Which did you prefer? I think the first one. I produced an individual play and, when I had no angle, tried to trick the goalkeeper. I’m obviously very happy to score goals, even more so in a World Cup, but the most important thing is that they were crucial goals, they helped our team win. I’m also very happy to have produced assists, because assisting goals is the thing I most like to do. Whatever team I play for, I’m always very happy when I can help a team-mate finish a competition as top scorer. Ivan Chishkala is in the running. What do you think of him? He has a huge future. He’s only 26. We’ve been playing together since he was 16 and have great confidence in one another’s game. He’s a magnificent player. He has everything to become one of the best players in the world.
Who do you think are the favourites to lift the trophy? I think Brazil are the big favourites because of the indisputable quality of their players. They have everything – a top goalkeeper, top defenders, top wingers, top pivots. They comfortably have the best squad in terms of individual talent. And Argentina. Not just because of their squad but because of the way they play. Is this your last World Cup? (pauses) I feel a bit sad to say this, but probably. I’m 38. The next World Cup is in three years. I’m not saying that’s for definite. I will make a final decision after the tournament, when I’m calmer. It’s my third World Cup. Playing in this tournament is the ultimate for any player. You don’t have words to explain it. It makes me sad to think I won’t have this indescribable experience again, but I want to go out with a bang. We got to the final in 2016 and we are going to give absolutely everything to lift the trophy here.