Antony has illuminated the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament
He discusses elastic dribbles, meeting Marta and Mexico
He reveals which celebrity he’d most like to interview
Antony has done a lot in his infant adulthood. Become a father, moved to Europe, starred in the UEFA Champions League, gone to the Olympic Games and, ahead of a semi-final against Mexico, tried his hand at reporting. The 21-year-old had fun asking his coach a question at Brazil’s pre-match press conference. And ‘fun’ is what the Ajax winger, who is reportedly on the Bayern Munich radar, has been injecting into this Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. Hypnotizing body-swivels, nutmegs and elastic dribbles have, indeed, been thrilling the flair-demanding Brazilians. Antony chatted to FIFA.com about his Tokyo 2020 output, his country’s glory chances, meeting Marta, being inspired by gold-medal surfer Italo Ferreira, Daniel Alves and Richarlison.
FIFA.com: You’ve just turned journalist during the pre-match press conference and asked Jardine a question. Did you enjoy the experience and if you could interview one celebrity, who would it be? Antony: (laughs) It caught me off guard! As he said, it was difficult for him to play up front and it was equally difficult for me to be a journalist. But if I could interview one celebrity, I’d like it to be Cristiano Ronaldo. For everything he’s achieved, for the person that he is, for his winning mentality. He’s a big example for me and many other people. What cool things have you done off the pitch? It was a privilege to go to the Olympic Village. It’s historic, beautiful. You think about all the great athletes who have been there. And it was really cool to spend time with the Brazilian women’s team – we were in the same hotel. To get to meet Marta… she’s a football legend, she’s been named the best player in the world six times, she’s respected by everybody all over the world. It was a great experience.
Have you been watching other sports, and which athletes have impressed you the most? Whenever we have free time, we watch the Olympics. And when there’s a Brazilian involved, we’re always cheering them on a lot and are thrilled when they win a medal. Italo was one that stood out. He’s a symbol for his sport and Brazil. Daniel Alves is his friend and talks about him a lot. Everything he puts into surfing, the sacrifices he makes. Italo’s an example of an athlete. He won gold for our country and he inspires us.
You’ve been one of the stars of this tournament. How happy are you with your performances? I’m very happy, yes. I think I’ve been getting better as the tournament has progressed and I think Egypt was my best performance. Playing in the Olympics was realising a big dream and wearing the Seleção shirt is always a big honour, but I want to help my team more and more and keep this gold-medal dream alive.
Who were the biggest specialists in the elastic dribble you’ve seen, and can you talk about the elastic dribble that you pulled off against Egypt? Ronaldinho Gaucho. I’ve also followed Rivellino a lot – everyone talks about him and he was superb at them. I’m really satisfied to put this move into practice, obviously respecting the opposition and doing it objectively. It came naturally and I always try to make something happen from it. What do you think of Mexico? Mexico are an excellent side. It will be a really tough game. They have a lot of quality, work really hard. But we’re aware of our own quality too. It will be a great game and I hope we win. The squad is really confident, but football is a box of surprises.
What’s it like having Daniel Alves in the squad? I had the privilege to play with him. He’s an outstanding player. He is greatly respected for everything he’s done in football. He’s always speaking to us, passing on his experience, giving us advice. It’s a privilege not just for me but for every player in the squad to have Daniel Alves with us. What do you think of Richarlison as a player? He’s magnificent. You look at the goals he’s scored but he offers so much more. He’s been playing really well for the senior Seleção too, so he’s an example for us here.
Your son Lorenzo is 20 months old. Has he seen you on television and what would it mean to you for him to be able to say one day, ‘My dad won an Olympic gold’? He’s been watching. He shouts ‘Daddy, daddy’ when he sees me on screen. Of course Lorenzo gives me extra motivation to win a gold medal. So does my dad, the rest of my family. Family is everything. I feel fortunate to be part of two: my actual family and this Seleção squad. I really want to bring happiness and pride to the Brazilian people. And it would be amazing to be able to tell my son about winning an Olympic gold in the future. How much would you like to go to the World Cup next year? It’s a huge dream. But I take everything step by step, staying humble. First I’m focussing on helping my country win Olympic gold, and then I can think about the World Cup. This is great tournament experience and I hope it helps me because the World Cup means everything, particularly to Brazilians.