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Brazil’s Tite: ‘We’ve made it to the World Cup, now is the time to be champions’ | Brazil

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With a few months for the World Cup, how are you? How are you managing your anxiety? How am I? I am expectant but focused. We reached the World Cup; Now it’s time to reach the final and be champions. This is the truth. In the last World Cup I was a coach for other reasons [Dunga was fired in 2016 and Tite took over]. Now I have had the opportunity to do the full cycle of four years. Expectations are high, but the focus is on the job.

I have staff with great values ​​and credentials. And an extraordinary family. If I didn’t have my wife [Rosi]I wouldn’t be where I am. I lose my temper, I hit the ceiling, I don’t sleep at night, like everyone else. But I have a partner who supports me, a family who supports me. I draw strength from my family, work and spirituality.

Are you afraid of something? The pressure we face is a problem: the responsibility, the pressure of the position, the demands. When he was a fan, he wanted the team to be the best. It is what moves us. But mental health is important. I think of what Mandela said: “Courage is the ability to face fear.” In every decision he made, fear was present. When I read that, I saw that I am a normal citizen. I have my fears, my nightmares, my little chills. Fear but not dread; fear and dread are different.

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I also read what Tostão [a Brazil legend who won the 1970 World Cup] He said: “Fame creates a division of the human being, builds a creature and impoverishes creation.” I have to take care of adenor [Tite’s real first name]. Adenor has a life: he will continue to be a father, a grandfather. But he does not want to be measured. If he wins, he is the best. If not, he is vilified. I can’t understand it. When I speak, I speak for my whole team. No one has a monopoly on the truth. We need to reflect on different opinions, and we are open to well-argued ideas. It is not about winning at any price.

Alex Ferguson says that great professionals compete against themselves in the constant search for improvement. You know why? If I compare myself to another person, I will feel frustrated and hurt. In some points I will be better, but in others I will be worse. I need to stay healthy, with a healthy mind.

Do you feel bad when they criticize you like last year? We need time to understand. The works are best seen when they are at a distance, finished. We have results. What do people expect? we beat the record [for the most points] in the playoffs. We have the longest streak without losing: 12 games [under Tite in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup] and now 17 games without losing [in the 2022 qualifiers]. There are 29 games.

It is very difficult in the South American qualifiers. We scored 13 more goals than Argentina in 17 games. We return to first place in the FIFA ranking. We were champions of the [2019] America Cup. A second place too [in 2021]. We didn’t win the last time, but there was a whole process, in addition to a difficult, conflictive moment, full of a series of problems, which I don’t want to delve into. [Brazil took over hosting rights from Colombia and Argentina amid the pandemic but were criticised for doing so while tens of thousands were dying in the country]. We kept a clean sheet in 13 of 17 qualifiers; our average goals scored per game was over 2.5. I would also like to point out one thing: no one wanted to play in the Copa América and everyone expressed it to the [then] President [of Brazil’s football federation, Rogério Caboclo].

Brazil celebrates after winning the Copa América in 2019. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Is Brazil the most envied team? I’ll tell you a story. An Italian coach made fun of Miranda [the Brazil defender, then at Internazionale, after Brazil were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup by Belgium]: “How does it feel to be eliminated by Belgium?” I heard that from Miranda and I told Miranda that he [the Italian coach] He will never know this feeling because he never coached a nation like Brazil or even his own nation. This is envy. That’s why she asked him. Many people are jealous of Brazil. They don’t admit it. Perhaps it is the most envied team in the world.

It’s about disrespect and envy. This is the legacy that I carry, the legacy that we carry, the history of having Pelé, Zagallo, Tostão, Garrincha. If they criticize Zagallo, how can I not? Brazil is the most envied? I think so, but when I go out everyone asks me how I handle the pressure of being the coach of the Brazilian team.

Neymar recently said that he was tired and that this World Cup could be his last. Are you worried about Neymar? Did you talk to him about it? You said “recently”. Pay attention to when this happened [the interview was released last October but had been recorded months earlier, either soon after PSG had lost a Champions League semi-final or Brazil had lost the Copa final]. If I had spoken right after a cup elimination, I would have been extremely angry too. This needs to be contextualized. We talked to all the players, including Neymar, about the physical, technical, tactical and mental preparation for the decisive matches. We transmit knowledge. Because of Neymar’s greatness, there will always be great expectations. But now he is diluted. It is Neymar, but also Vinícius, Raphinha; Thiago [Silva] he’s at a great level again, Paquetá, Casemiro, Fabinho too.

Neymar hugs Vinícius Júnior after scoring against Chile in the World Cup qualifier in March.
Neymar hugs Vinícius Júnior after scoring against Chile in the World Cup qualifier in March. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Is Neymar your best player or is it Vinícius’ moment? Neymar is Neymar. He is still our biggest star. The difference now is that the brightness is diluted by nearby stars that can also shine. The greatness of Neymar is that he understands this, about the growth of these children. Encourage the boys to level up. Time and experience provide this maturity.

What will it be like to play a World Cup without your mother? She died in 2019 My mother’s naivety…it was beautiful. When we won the Copa América, she asked me if it was bigger than the World Cup. Honey… So I explained that it’s not the same cup but it’s also hard. I am at peace. It is his will also what I am doing. [Tite gets teary-eyed.] I am doing my father’s will. He was my first coach. I know I am making them proud. My mother always gave me a lot of faith, my father the love for sports. I’m fine, I have her light, her energy.

I can play soccer for only 15 minutes with my grandchildren. I can not do more because they are very intense. Then their grandmother is going to play a little with them. I can’t walk away from football. It is my pleasure, my satisfaction.

I have many videos and games to watch but there are also moments with the family. I like being with Rosi, walking with her. I like books, chimarrão [maté], coffee, being with my children and grandchildren. I like movies. I read a lot, it strengthens me. But I don’t disconnect; I am always asking to write something.

Tite next to a tactics board.
Tite plans to spend a year with his family and study after the World Cup. Photograph: The Guardian

Will this World Cup shape your future? Of course. If you win the World Cup you get an open market. You can choose. I will not lie: my idea is definitely not to work in Brazil. I want to spend a year with my family, take a gap year, study, not have any responsibility because the responsibility is too great. If something comes from outside, it will happen. Now I have the responsibility and the joy of being the coach of the Seleção. I’m not even going to talk to anyone.

But have you had offers in the past to take over a European club? Yes, Real Madrid and Sporting. What I like is that when a European club is interested in a professional, they have a conversation to explain what they need. This is really cool. There was another club that wanted to talk to me and I said no: PSG [after Unai Emery left in May 2018]. They wanted to talk to me and I told them no; I don’t want to and I won’t. I don’t want to open up that possibility of something else. I want to be focused on my work. Then it’s another story.

in the world cup [just before the 2018 tournament]they [Madrid] They said they wanted to talk and I said no, I’m not going to talk, don’t come near me. I want to be at peace with myself and with my work. I am giving my best. When you do something in parallel, you don’t do it to the fullest. I can’t do it. I received offers from Real Madrid, PSG and Sporting. But I didn’t want that. I want to win the World Cup. After the World Cup, I will decide my future.

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