Besides reporting Qatari cultural and sports events, we will also bring news from athletes that are working in the country. Starting this reporting series, our first interview is with a great name from Brazilian and world football: the striker Grafite.
He is one of those players that is always well liked by the team and becomes a star to the team fans. Before the transference to Qatar’s Al Sadd, he played 3 and a half years for Al Ahli from United Arab Emirates. The stats show why Grafite is still an idol in the club: 87 matches, 76 goals and 8 titles, including: two President’s Cup, two national Emirates championships, one Arab League championship and three United Arab Emirates Super Cups. He was such a star to the team that his farewell was marked by a lot of emotion and tears.
Before arriving in the Middle East, Grafite had made history at Germany’s Wolfsburg, winning the 2008/2009 German Bundesliga. He was the top scorer in that championship, broke records and was elected the best player of the season.
In Brazil, his great achievement was playing for Sao Paulo where he won the Paulista championship, the Libertadores Cup and the Fifa Club World Cup in 2005.
For the Brazilian National team, he played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. There is great anticipation that Grafite will repeat his great performances in United Arab Emirates and Germany while playing in Qatar. He has more than enough skill for that.
You spent several years at Al Ahli and you are very dear to Emirates fans. What was your main contribution to arab football?
That’s true. I played 3 and a half years in United Arab Emirates and it was a great professional and personal experience. It is a very different culture than ours, sometimes difficult, sometimes easy to understand, but in the end it was very positive! I think I left a mark with my sports experience, my game style and my behavior. I think I contributed a little to the professional improvement of local athletes. Thank god, I was always a positive influence.
How is life in Qatar and in Al Sadd?
So far it is very good and so is the reception from the team, the club is really good. We have all the infrastructure to work and play well. I am slowly getting to know the city. It does not have as many options as Dubai, but I am enjoying and settling down.
What is your training routine and with which Brazilians are you working?
The routine is similar to other clubs: daily training sessions, in particular right now when we are playing twice a week. It is a bit busy but that is no problem. We have other Brazilians here at the club, besides me, Muriqui is another player and we also have João, the physical training coach for the last 10 years. He has helped a lot my integration toDoha and the club.
What do people say when they know that you are playing in Qatar? How was it in the beginning?
No problem. The ones that do not know the country, ask me how things are here, as usual. The beginning in a new country is never easy. It was not so hard to visit the new places, move around the city and do everything and now, after living here for 5 weeks, I am quite settled in the country.
Tell us a curiosity and a tip to Brazilian tourists that are coming to Qatar.
Look, I don’t know the city very well yet but last week I moved to The Pearl which is a very beautiful place. It is worth a visit. It is a big apartment and beach houses condo with many sights!
Do you believe that Qatari football may further evolve until the World Cup?
Yes, it can and it will. The Qatari government is investing a lot for that, working towards the expansion of football and improvement of the athletes in general. The Qatari league is growing in quality and competitiveness. It will further improve until 2022!
How is Al Sadd’s position in the league?
Until three rounds ago, we were fighting to be champions against the Lekhwya team but in the last three matches, we had two draws and lost one. Their point advantage increased but we have 4 matches left. They have a 7 point lead but we still have a chance. They are slim chances, but we will fight to the last minute!
What changed in your life since you started to play in the Middle East?
There were no drastic changes, but the way I saw the Muslim religion before and how I see it now are completely different. The vision I had before knowing it personally, living my daily life here was very different but I always try to respect their religion and they also respect mine. I had no problems so far and life goes on.
How is Qatar’s preparations to the World Cup? Do you believe they will able to make a great World Cup in 2022?
I haven’t been able to see many games from the Qatari national team yet. I know that they were the Gulf Cup champions and that there was a great anticipation to the Asia Cup performance but, unfortunately, they did not make it out of the group stage. Since they will be the home team in 2022, I believe they might have a great World Cup! But there is a lot of time yet until then, so let’s wait and see.
What can you tell Brazilians about Qatar?
If you can, come and visit the country. It is very nice and different. It has an interesting culture and many beautiful places and sights!