- Palmeiras face Santos in Saturday’s Copa Libertadores last
- Gabriel Menino discusses the showdown, Weverton and Alphonso Davies
- The 20-yr-previous raves about his Brazil name-up and assembly Neymar
A young person reluctantly dragged himself away from PlayStation, the place he revelled in executing drag-again sombreros and rainbow flicks as Neymar, and headed, by way of a swift mirror look, for the TV. He sat down to look at Flamengo face River Plate in the Copa Libertadores 2019 last dreaming of three issues: profitable a youth state championship last the following day, making his skilled debut for the membership some day, and getting the burgeoning moustache he’d simply checked out bang on.
Palmeiras did conquer that Paulista U-20 crown. The teenager did make his skilled debut two months later. And in the present day the tache is simply how the Morungaba native needs it. Gabriel Menino has, nevertheless, achieved unimaginably extra in the small window thereafter.
The Paris Saint-Germain megastar with whom he used to tug off social gathering items? Neymar is now the Palmeiras No25’s group-mate in the Brazilian nationwide group. The prestigious last he was watching on the field? He’s now arguably the headline act going into the following version’s fixture.
FIFA.com caught up with Gabriel Menino to debate his meteoric rise, the Libertadores last in opposition to Santos, Alphonso Davies, his Brazil name-up and assembly boyhood hero Neymar.
FIFA.com: One yr in the past you hadn’t even made your skilled debut. Can you consider that every one this has occurred to you?
Gabriel Menino: I really feel like I’m in a dream. (laughs) Everything has occurred so, so rapidly. My skilled debut, the first title, my first aim, the Seleção, that evening in Argentina, reaching the [Libertadores] last – each step has felt like a dream. It looks like yesterday that I used to be a supporter. It’s arduous to consider, however at the identical time I’ve mentioned since day one which I don’t simply want to be one other participant – I want to go down in the historical past of this membership. When I’m at the membership [headquarters] I have a look at the photographs of legends who’ve made historical past at the membership and I feel, ‘I want to see my photo there’. How good would it not be to change into an everlasting idol at considered one of the largest golf equipment in the world?
What do you consider Palmeiras’s season?
I feel it’s been unimaginable, however we want to make it historic. We received the Campeonato Paulista, we’ve reached the Copa do Brasil last, we have been the finest group in the group stage and have reached the Libertadores last. Ok, the final recreation wasn’t our greatest efficiency, we perhaps lacked a little bit of focus and composure, however over the course of the marketing campaign we undoubtedly should be right here. Now the hour has come to show it into considered one of the finest campaigns in the historical past of this membership.
How vital has Weverton been?
He’s been magnificent. He produces enormous saves at essential moments. He’s the finest goalkeeper in Brazil and considered one of the finest there may be [in the world]. And he’s pretty much as good an individual as he’s a goalkeeper. I’m very grateful to have him as a group-mate and it instils us [outfield] gamers with nice confidence realizing he’s in our aim.
If you possibly can take one participant out of the Santos group, who would it not be?
I feel I’ll say Lucas Verissimo. Santos have a variety of superb attacking gamers, however he’s an excellent defender.
How assured are you that Palmeiras will likely be at the Club World Cup?
I’m very assured. We’re taking Santos very critically, they’ve a really robust group. The Libertadores is a superb competitors – it includes a lot ardour and emotion – and I feel the last will likely be an ideal spectacle not simply for Brazil, however for the world. Two nice sides, each rating targets, a derby. But each time I give it some thought I envision Palmeiras as champions. We have nice gamers who work for one another, an ideal group, an ideal squad, a coach who will get the finest out of us. We have a lot coronary heart and nice perception. The Palmeiras supporters are fanatical, unbelievably passionate. ’99, it’s been too lengthy – I wasn’t even born. We are decided to win the Libertadores trophy for them. I firmly consider we are going to change into champions.
What do you assume is your finest place?
In the beginning XI. I simply want to play. The coach is aware of finest the place I ought to play relying on the recreation. I take pleasure in taking part in in midfield and I take pleasure in taking part in at wingback. I’ll give my all for the group wherever I play.
Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies can be 20 years previous, additionally performs as a wingback or in midfield. What do you consider him?
That efficiency in opposition to Barcelona! I keep in mind his dribbles. He’s an impressive participant, already considered one of the finest in the world the place he performs. He’s an inspiration for me. He’s solely younger however has achieved a lot. It could be a tremendous expertise to play in opposition to him and Bayern at the Club World Cup.
How did you’re feeling to be known as up by Brazil?
It was an indescribable feeling. The Brazilian nationwide group is the final for any participant and it was solely my first yr as an expert. I keep in mind getting there and gamers I performed as on video video games. I simply couldn’t consider it. It took me some time to soak up. Everyone was so cool with me and the high quality of the gamers was one thing else. I discovered quite a bit. It was unimaginable to be there and it made me so decided to maintain getting known as up.
Any tales stand out out of your time with the Seleção?
It was humorous. I idolised Neymar after I was a child. One time Santos have been taking part in in ** and I begged my father to take me. We went and I keep in mind screaming, ‘Neymar, Neymar’ the complete match till I utterly misplaced my voice. I had been with the squad slightly time after which out of the blue Neymar walked in. I needed to burst out crying – I used to be realising a childhood dream. I actually needed to maintain again the tears to not look dangerous. I noticed him coming as much as me and I used to be slightly nervous. He launched himself and welcomed me to the squad. He was very nice, humble. So I advised him the story of how he made me lose my voice. ‘Wow, I’m already that previous!,’ he mentioned! We each laughed. I couldn’t consider Neymar was in entrance of me.
What do you consider Neymar as a participant?
I feel he’s an unbelievable participant and I feel he deserves to win the FIFA award. Some of the issues he can do are unimaginable. I consider he can win [The Best FIFA Men’s Player] this yr and I consider the 2022 World Cup can belong to Neymar.
How badly would you wish to be at Qatar 2022 with him?
(laughs) You can’t think about. The World Cup, man! I’ll maintain working as arduous as doable, giving my all on the pitch so hopefully I can realise this enormous dream.