The Real Madrid and Brazil legend on:
Life after Football
He has given everything to football and, in particular, Real Madrid, yet all he wants to do is give back to the club he loves. We sat down with footballing icon Roberto Carlos at the Rosewood in his beloved Madrid to discuss life after football and the work he’s doing in his new global ambassadorial role.
For Roberto, football is life.
Firstly Roberto, may I say what an honour it is speaking with you. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview for SWM.
I’m delighted with your invitation to work with SWM because it’s an amazing, high-quality magazine focused on the top football universe.
You had a stunning career, which we will touch on very soon, but talk to us about your upbringing and how you became a professional footballer.
I began to play football seriously when I was thirteen years old. Honestly, my dream came true, especially having played with the national team and Real Madrid.
In the modern game, all full-backs must now be able to defend and attack, but you were doing this decades ago. At what point did you revolutionise the role of the modern-day full-back?
I had great masters in my career. For example, the unforgettable Branco. I must confess that from the beginning, I always thought of being an attacker left-back and taking advantage of my speed to defend.
You joined Real Madrid in 1996; how big of a move was this for you and your family?
Signing Real Madrid was a dream because it’s the best club in the world. Furthermore, they always trusted me and are part of my life. In addition, I got a lot of achievements with hard work on the pitch.
As a Brazilian player, tell us how you were brought up to play football with flair and charisma.
As a Brazilian player, Branco and Junior, both left-backs, were my influential models.
You played 11 amazing seasons for Real Madrid playing 584 matches in all competitions, scoring 71 goals, and becoming Real’s most-capped foreign player. Tell us about your fondest memories of playing for the club.
I cannot define only one memory. All Champions League finals, all La Liga successes, and Supercups. But the main memory is my relationship with Real Madrid.
You have played in three World Cup finals for Brazil, winning the tournament in 2002 in Korea/Japan. Was this your biggest achievement as a player, and what did that feel like?
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was one of my biggest achievements but not only that one. I cannot express with words what I felt in the final versus Germany, maybe the success of sacrifice and dedication.
You have been officially retired for 4/5 years now… tell us what you are doing with yourself?
After my retirement, I began as Real Madrid’s global ambassador, television commentator, and assistant at the youth academy, and I am very happy to represent my club.
At what point in your career did you start preparing for life after football? And why do you feel this is an important step to take?
At the end of my career, I started planning my life: I always wished to be a coach because football is my life. Nowadays, I love teaching young talents and taking self-development inside Real Madrid.
Did you always want to go into the media, or did you have other plans?
In my mind, all of my plans revolve around Real Madrid. I want to celebrate every day with the clubs every triumph.
What businesses and charitable organisations are you involved in?
In reality, I am a collaborator of the Real Madrid Foundation. In fact, I usually fly with them all over the world.
Are there any full-backs you see a little bit of yourself in?
Obviously, Marcelo. He has different skills from my style but is at the top of the game.
Tell us more about your ambassadorial role.
My role as ambassador is to show Real Madrid’s history and projects around the world. The essence of this legendary club, and sometimes fans ask me about stories of my career.
What advice would you give the modern-day player to ensure they are well prepared for retirement?
My advice is simple: enjoy football because this life happens very fast.
“It was marvellous meeting new people with great ideas. I realised that you can offer what players usually demand. Thanks a lot.”