After scoring more than 80 goals over four seasons at Santos, the Brazilian moved to Europe and helped Real Madrid win back-to-back La Liga titles in 2007 and 2008.
Barcelona had also been monitoring the Samba starlet before Real agreed to pay the €24 million required to secure his passage to the Santiago Bernabeu.
But the 33-year-old – now at Atletico Mineiro – says it was an easy decision to join the Spanish capital club, who at the time had a number of Brazilians on their books including Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos, plus a Brazilian coach in the form of Vanderlei Luxemburgo.
Speaking exclusively in the March 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, Robinho says: “It may seem like a difficult choice, but it wasn’t. Real Madrid was the team that showed more interest in me.
“Both of them are great clubs that have fans all around the world, but when Madrid came in for me, I saw they had a large Brazilian group in their squad and the coaching staff was also from Brazil. When you put all this together, why would I move to Barcelona?”
Robinho stayed in Spain for three seasons before sealing a deadline-day switch to Manchester City in 2008, despite being set for a move to Chelsea that summer.
While he has no regrets about calling time on his career with los Blancos, Robinho does wish he'd parted on better terms, having found himself caught in the middle of Madrid's attempts to lure Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.
“I don’t regret leaving Real, but I do regret falling out with them when I moved on, as they were the club that opened doors for me and offered me the opportunity to conquer Europe,” he says. “Perhaps the way I had to fight my way out erased the memories of some great things I did for the team; I helped them become champions and I think I played well. But I was really determined to leave, had an explosive temper and didn’t give things as much thought as I do now.”
Read the full interview with Robinho in the March 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. A South American special, we head round to Ronaldinho’s house to hear what the Brazilian trickster is planning next, chat to Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta about learning English while watching Coronation Street, learn that West Bromwich Albion powerhouse Salomon Rondon doesn’t actually like heading and meet up with Bayern Munich enforcer Arturo Vidal. Plus, we find out why Oscar swapped Chelsea for China, look back on the early days of Diego Maradona’s career at Argentinos Juniors, hear some remarkable tales from football’s own Forrest Gump, aka Nelson Vivas, and find out how Chapecoense go about healing a club and local community following November’s plane tragedy. Order it now, and subscribe here!
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Gregg Davies is the Chief Sub Editor of FourFourTwo magazine, joining the team in January 2008 and spending seven years working on the website. He supports non-league behemoths Hereford and commentates on Bulls matches for Radio Hereford FC. His passions include chocolate hobnobs and attempting to shoehorn Ronnie Radford into any office conversation.
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