The Brazilian winger talks over his footballing roots and the joy of playing football video games "as myself".
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Still only 20, Vinícius Júnior has played over 100 games for Real Madrid in all competitions, and is closing in on his first UEFA Champions League title with the club that he dreamed of representing when he was playing street football back in his native Brazil.
Having scored twice in the quarter-final win against Liverpool, he spoke to UEFA.com ahead of the semi-final opener against Chelsea.
On his upbringing
I started playing when I was four. I always played on the streets and I always dreamed of playing for Flamengo and for Real Madrid. My father was a bit mad because I was always on the streets, I even forgot to go back home to eat. I think that’s because I loved football so much and I wanted to spend the whole day playing.
When I was six, I started playing futsal for Canto do Rio until I was ten. That helped a lot with my [football] education, my quick-thinking, my dribbling, and everything I do today on a much bigger pitch. Everybody says that the Brazilian players are high-quality players, and I think that’s because we play in small spaces, we start playing on the streets when we are young and always with older people, so that helps us.
On moving from Flamengo to Madrid
Facing these changes when you are [just 18] is something good and bad at the same time. It is good because you have more time to learn things and play during several years in Europe, but you also face the fear and insecurity of playing for the greatest club in the world and doing things right.
I was very young when I came to a new country, and I had to change my habits both on and off the pitch to get used to another football culture, which is completely different from Brazil. Arriving here and playing with my greatest heroes, who I used to watch on TV or while playing video games. Now I can play [video games] as myself, which I do a lot. I play a lot against Rodrygo and [Éder] Militão, who I’m closest to; we’re always playing. Who is the best FIFA player at Madrid? I think it’s [Marco] Asensio and [Dani] Carvajal: they're good.
On Zinédine Zidane
I learn from him every day, in every training session. He was a great player and is a great coach. He does everything he can for us to feel good, not only on the pitch but also at home; he asks a lot about our family. If I’m well at home, I’m sure to be well here. He also gives me a lot of confidence, and I learn all kinds of things on the pitch. In terms of tactics, he was one of the coaches that pushed me most to do things, and I now do them very naturally and calmly.
He helps a lot with my attacking game every day. Not just me, but all the players and especially Karim [Benzema], with whom I play a lot. I’ve played a lot with Karim since my arrival. He and I make a good team. Now I’m a completely different player, but with the same qualities as before.
On his career goals
To keep on playing for Real Madrid, playing a lot of games. I’ve already played for the club [over 100] times which is a lot for a 20-year-old; very few players have achieved this. And I want to keep on winning a lot of trophies, scoring a lot of goals and bringing a lot of joy for the fans here, who follow us – and for my family as well.