Learn from one of the all-time masters as the Real Madrid and Brazil great explains how to think like a winner.
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Talent can take players a long way, but it is not the whole picture for Roberto Carlos. "You need to have a winning mentality?" says the Real Madrid and Brazil great. "To be very strong mentally, to be really focused, to have the utmost motivation."
While brilliant crosses and superb goals from set-pieces were the most visible manifestations of Roberto Carlos's brilliance, they were underpinned by an iron will. "To be a great footballer and be extremely strong mentally, you need to make the most of everything available to you to make your professional and personal life extremely positive, in every aspect," he says.
Crucial is a player's commitment to their craft. Roberto Carlos's advice to would-be stars? "Work hard, always be the first to get to the training, be the last to leave, and when training finishes, they should still want to do an extra 15, 20 or 30 minutes more. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave because I wanted to learn. And in games, enjoy yourself. The best thing for a youngster who wants to be a great player is to enjoy yourself on the field, take responsibility and always try to be the best."
The three-time UEFA Champions League winner owed some of his own standing as a player to following the examples of some fine team-mates. "The best leaders I’ve played with were Fernando Hierro, Manolo Sanchís, Dunga , Branco, Mauro Silva, Cafu and Edmílson. My role models were Raúl [González] and Fernando Redondo. I played with the best leaders in world football, and I managed to learn a lot from them and because of this I became the captain of Real Madrid and also captain of the Brazilian national team."
That leadership baton has been handed on to some more great players. "In my opinion, the best leaders in football today are [Real Madrid's] Casemiro, Karim Benzema and, from the Brazilian national team, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, David Luiz and Marcelo. They all perfectly display what it means to be a leader, not just on the pitch, but even more so off the pitch. And because of this, there is good support and the performance on the pitch is even better."
However, if football is necessarily a deadly serious business, Roberto Carlos is adamant that it should always be a pleasure too: "I would tell young full-backs to enjoy themselves on the pitch, to be very responsible defensively and, from midfield forwards, have fun with the ball, give passes, score goals, and be the best player on their team."