Deepan Raj sits down with two-time UEFA Champions League winner Deco to discuss his distinguished career, the best coaches and players he's encountered and if Cristiano Ronaldo can carry Portugal on his own...
Regarded by many as one of the best playmakers ever to have graced the world of football, Anderson Luís de Souza was blessed with sublime ball skills. More commonly known as Deco, the Portuguese international was in Singapore as ambassador for Tiger Street Football 2014. The midfielder earned 75 caps for Portugal, playing at two European Championships and two World Cups. A two time Champions league winner with Porto and Barcelona, the skilful Deco was the first player to win the UEFA Best Midfielder Award with two different clubs.
Newly retired in 2013, the Brazilian-born superstar talked to FFT about his time at some of Europe's biggest clubs, Chelsea's chances in the Premier League this season and what he thinks about Diego Costa's decision to play for Spain.
How has your stay been in Singapore so far, Deco?
It’s a fantastic country with lovely people. It’s my second visit but this time, I have more time to visit the country and I really like it here.
Have you tried any of the local food?
Yes I did! It’s so spicy, but I like the food. I tried the chicken rice and it was nice.
You played for some terrific clubs, like Porto, Barcelona and Chelsea. Where did you enjoy your football the most?
I enjoyed it everywhere but of course they were all different. Porto was my passion, Barcelona was my dream and I had a great time at Chelsea too. Winning the Champions League of course is the most fantastic experience for me.
In your career, you played under some of the best managers as well. Who was the best for you?
It’s difficult to choose one. Of course (Jose) Mourinho was important for me, I loved to work with (Carlo) Ancelotti and (Luiz Filipe) Scolari was important as well. People like Fernando Santos and Frank Rijkaard were also good to me. My career spanned 20 years so to name one manager, I think it is impossible.
Perhaps, not easy to name a best manager but what about the best player you have played with?
For me, what Ronaldinho did at Barcelona sometimes was just amazing but to me he didn’t decide a lot of games the way (Lionel) Messi or Cristiano (Ronaldo) do. But they are all incredible.
I assume you still follow Chelsea and their exploits in the Premier League. Do you think they will be champions this season?
Yeah, I try to watch them when I can and yes I think so they can win. They built a new team, a good and young team and Mourinho knows exactly what he needs to do so I think they can win this season.
Mourinho finished last season without any trophy. Do you think he can cope with expectations to deliver this year?
The Premier League is tough and difficult to win. Their team this season is better this year than last year so Chelsea have a good chance. To me, he doesn’t have to prove anything to people but I know he really wants to win the title so we wait and see.
What is the best moment you have had in your career?
I had a lot of great moments. But maybe the best moment was winning the Champions League with Barcelona and Porto. It really felt fantastic.
Plenty of football players go into coaching after they end their career. Is that something you want to do as well?
At the moment, no. I have no plans for that. I want to enjoy my time. I have my academy in Brazil and that is what I am doing.
Portugal have been criticised for their over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo. Does the national team rely too much on him?
I don’t think it’s true. Football is not an individual sport. You have 11 players on the pitch and you need a good team. Without a good team, Ronaldo cannot do anything so you need a good team also.
You chose to represent Portugal. In recent times, Diego Costa, also chose to represent Spain instead of Brazil. Do you think it affects Brazil and what was the reason behind your decision?
No. Brazil has a lot of good players. It is a personal decision for the players and everyone knows their connections with the country. For my case, I love Portugal and I loved the culture and I really enjoyed my football playing for Portugal so I am happy with that.