Real Madrid can’t imagine their recent Champions League successes without Casemiro anchoring the midfield, yet a hilarious story from the Brazilian’s first ever trial confirms that he wasn’t always destined to be a midfield lynchpin.
Casemiro has become one of the best defensive midfielders in the game, yet he initially started out as a forward.
“I arrived at Sao Paulo when I was 11 or 12 years old, and there were 300 people,” he explained in an interview with Movistar+.
“It was a trial and they were going to select 50 players.
“I played up front because I had a good physique, but I remember that the coach asked who was a goalkeeper and then three people raised their hand and then he asked who was a forward and 50 people raised their hand.
“So I kept my hand down, there was a lot of competition.”
“He then asked who was a No.10 and there were another 50 with their hands up.
“Then he asked who was a defensive midfielder and eight put their hands up and I said ‘me, I’m a defensive midfielder’.
“They insisted that I was built to be a forward, but I insisted that no, that I was a defensive midfielder and that’s how it all started.”
Zidane and the Brazilian have always had a good relationship and the Brazilian recalls his first meeting with the coach fondly.
“I remember that when Zizou came I hadn’t played the first five games under him, but he spoke very positively about me,” he added.
“I told him that we were in January and I wanted a starting role, I wanted to play.
“He looked at me and told me to calm down and that when I started playing then I wouldn’t stop playing again.”
What has made the former Porto midfielder so valuable to the French coach is his work ethic, and this is something which the player prides himself on.
“My aggressiveness comes when I go for the ball,” he said.
“I don’t care if it’s the second minute or the last, I’m always going for the ball as if it’s a plate of food.
“I always go for the ball as if it’s my last ever chance.”