Casemiro targeting repeat of 2002 joy
Manchester United midfielder Casemiro wants to give the Brazilian people ‘the joy and happiness of winning a World Cup’, like he experienced as a child 20 years ago.
Our midfield general turned 30 this year and is able to remember the last time the Selecao were on top of the world, back in 2002 when Japan and South Korea co-hosted the tournament.
A star-studded Brazil side, featuring Golden-Boot winner Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos, among others, lifted the trophy for the fifth time and Casemiro has fond memories of waking up early to see some of the matches.
“The first World Cup that I remember was the one that Brazil won in 2002,” Casemiro recalls.
“I remember that Brazil were playing their [knock-out] games in Japan as that tournament took place in Japan and [South] Korea.
“I would get up at three in the morning to watch the games over in Brazil, and we won it too and so that is a great memory that I still have.”
Two decades on, the World Cup jamboree revisits Asia and Tite’s side are widely tipped to regain their crown in Qatar as they have quality running right through their squad.
Casemiro, who sees playing for his country as a ‘privilege’, believes football is the thing that brings together people in Brazil most, and he’d love to play a part in adding a record-extending sixth star to the crest this winter.
“I think it’s widely acknowledged that it’s the most important competition in the world. Everyone just stops what they’re doing to watch the matches, especially the ones involving Brazil,” he said.
“The really important thing here is to be able to give the Brazilian people the joy and happiness of winning a World Cup, because we know that there is just so much passion for football in Brazil.
“There are always differences in the world and in the country, differences in class, differences in everything, but when you talk about Brazilian football, football in Brazil is when everyone unites and gets together.
“So without a doubt, it’s a privilege first and foremost, and I’m really fortunate to be able to represent my country and I am aware of how important it is to represent my country, not just in a World Cup, but whenever I play for Brazil.”
Brazil's World Cup gets under way on Thursday evening, as they face Serbia in Lusail (19:00 GMT).