Brazil star Falcão recently made the UEFA Futsal Cup semi-final draw and told UEFA.com about host club Kairat Almaty, his love of the European game and Ricardinho's tattoo tribute.
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He is considered futsal's premier talent. He lifted the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup. And following in the footsteps of Pelé, he plays for Santos FC and Brazil.
UEFA.com caught up with the great Falcão recently when he helped to make the UEFA Futsal Cup semi-final draw while taking part in two friendlies between Santos and tournament hosts Kairat Almaty. The 33-year-old, who also had a spell in football with São Paulo FC, shared his views on the European game ahead of the finals later this month.
UEFA.com: How did you find playing against Kairat – are they like a Brazilian club?
Falcão: Kairat are well-known in Brazil because many good futsal players from our country play there. Now I have had a look around at the club and they have an excellent training base – their own modern indoor hall where the senior team and kids train. This is very good. I wouldn't say they play the Brazilian brand of futsal. There are quite a few local players who play a different kind of game. But together they make up a formidable team. I think Kairat are capable of winning the finals.
UEFA.com: Do follow the UEFA Futsal Cup? What do you think of the competition?
Falcão: To be honest I've never seen a finals match, but I'd like to have a look. I love futsal and I try to follow all the interesting tournaments, including European league championships. I even watched the Asian Cup on the internet. I was unable to see any of the UEFA Futsal Cup finals before because we have our own schedule and their matches overlapped with ours. But if Kairat invite me to visit in April, I'd come along if there is nothing important going on in Brazil at the time. Four of Europe's best teams will be in action, and that's something worth watching.
UEFA.com: How would you compare European futsal with the Brazilian game?
Falcão: European futsal is growing very quickly. I watch how teams in Spain play on the internet and often the camera is not able to follow the players, they move so fast. I think this is not only because of all the Brazilians playing in Europe, but also because of the local players. Portugal, Spain and Russia – all of them have made progress. Take even Kazakhstan. [Against Kairat] I saw two or three guys who play very quickly. I was especially impressed with the lad who scored against us, Serik Zhamankulov.
UEFA.com: Which European players do you admire?
Falcão: Oh, I could go on for ages. Today there are real stars in Spain, Portugal and Russia. In my list, there would be 20 or so names. You want to hear one name? Then I'd say Ricardinho [of Portugal]. He is an excellent player. And he has a tattoo on his leg in my honour: it says 'Falcão is the best player in the world'. He chose me, I am choosing him.
UEFA.com: Next year there will be UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 followed by the World Cup in Thailand. Who do you think will win the EURO, and can anyone stop Brazil winning another World Cup?
Falcão: At the World Cup, no fewer than five teams will fight for medals – Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Russia and Iran. These are leaders of world futsal today. But of course, Brazil will win. I am joking! The team that puts together the best squad will win. As for the European Championship, I think it's between Spain and Portugal. At least I'll be cheering them on.