Pito: Brazil-Argentina is beyond a huge semi-final
Pito discusses the celebrations after Brazil’s quarter-final victory
He assesses the magnitude of a semi-final against Argentina
He reacts to being called the world’s best player by Douglas Junior
“Sometimes happiness takes a while to arrive, that's why we can't stop dreaming,” bellowed out childhood friends Jean Pierre and Carlos Vagner, simultaneously striking tambourines to TV cameras on Sunday. The lyrics were tailor-written for the pair. They had dreamed of this moment relentlessly. They had waited for it for so, so long. The booming smiles on their faces emphatically underlined that it had. Playing in a pagode band was, however, just a bonus track to their major hit: helping Brazil reach the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021™ semi-finals. Pito and Ferrao had fantasised on the courts of Chapeco about playing in the competition and, at 29 and 30 respectively, they’ve finally made it. As youngsters they also recall seeing Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Co singing Deixa a Vida Me Levar by Zeca Pagodinho all the way to glory. Pito and Ferrao desperately want to keep performing Tá Escrito (It’s Written) in Lithuanian dressing rooms. The Grupo Revelação hit ends with the line, ‘Your time will come’. Will the childhood friends’ time come on Sunday? Pito assesses those hopes, discusses a blockbuster semi-final against Argentina, his friendship with Ferrao and more. FIFA.com: It took you until the age of 29 to play in a Futsal World Cup. Did you think it would never happen? Pito: To be honest, it was always a pipe dream. I was nowhere near when I was a young player. But suddenly I underwent a huge improvement and I made playing in the World Cup my target. My family pushed me on a lot. Very few players have the incredible privilege of playing in a World Cup. It’s even harder with the Brazilian national team because they have countless great players. But I worked really, really hard to get here. I’m loving every moment. It’s a unique, amazing experience. My family are really proud, especially my mother and my grandmother. This gives me really good energy. Can you tell us about your wonder goal against Japan? Principally, it was a crucial goal. The game was very tight and it gave us a bit of breathing space. Japan were really difficult opponents. They proved that against Spain. At that moment I was just thinking that it had helped us towards a really hard-fought victory, but when I watched it later I was really pleased. It was a genuine futsal goal. Marlon spotted me and played a superb pass. I just had to worry about controlling it on my chest and my next touch.
How were the celebrations in the dressing room after the victory over Morocco in the quarter-finals? Incredible. To know we’d got into the top four teams in the world, it was pure euphoria, an amazing sensation. When we got to the dressing room, Matheuzinho, our chef, was already there with the instruments. Djony plays the banjo. He always gets us all going. They were amazing moments, the atmosphere was indescribable, but they didn’t last too long because we were already switching our attention to Argentina. Many in the two countries believe that, despite it not being a final, it is the biggest fixture in futsal history… It could be. Brazil-Argentina is always an almighty derby, as much in futsal as it is in football. It’s always really heated, a game of such magnitude. But with a place in the World Cup final on the line, man, it’s beyond a huge semi-final.
What do you think of this Argentina team? They’re a really good side. They’re very fast, they mark you really tightly. We played them in the qualifiers, we lost in the final. We’ve been working hard to put the errors we made in that final right so that we can emerge victorious. We’re very well prepared to go out and represent Brazil in the best way possible. I’m very confident that we’ll win. You and Ferrao are from the same city, are roughly the same age, and you’ve just joined him at Barcelona. Can you tell us about your friendship? I’ve known Ferrao since we were six, seven. We started out playing together, but there were two teams in Chapeco at that time and he went and joined our rivals. We’ve always got on really well. Our families get on really well, are always in touch. He left Chapeco at a much younger age than me to pursue a career, and thank God it really worked out for him. I left later but here we are together in the Seleção. I think we have everything to be a great double act. I want it to start here with the World Cup title and then we’ll go after titles in Barcelona.
I think Pito is the best player in the world. He’s so complete. He can dribble, mark, score goals. He has incredible quality.
What do you think of Ferrao as a player? Fantastic. Words can’t do what he’s done these last two years justice. Being chosen as the Best Player in the World was more than justified. And he’s doing what he’s done [for Barcelona] here with the Seleção. He came here with a big reputation to live up to, and he’s more than living up to it. He’s the top scorer, I’m sure he’s going to finish as the top scorer, and hopefully he becomes a champion too. Douglas Junior told us he rates you as the best player in the world and thinks you have been the best player in this competition… I’m really grateful. To get recognition like that from a great player like him is a big honour. I’ve put so much into getting here at my best to help Brazil become champions. That’s what I want more than anything.