• Marinho helped Santos reach the Copa Libertadores final
  • Tite recently mentioned his name among the selectable players with Brazil
  • Marinho talks to FIFA.com about his inspirations, Palmeiras, his opponent in the final, and the Seleçao

“You have to be an exceptional person to be discovered in Alagoas,” said Mario Zagallo, the best-known native of Brazil’s second smallest state. However, towards the end of the 2000s, Brazilian top division clubs unearthed two State. A 17-year-old defensive midfielder signs in Figueirense, and a winger of the same age, joins Neymar and Ganso in the youngsters of Santos.

If the first, Roberto Firmino, ends up signing for Liverpool and being selected for the Brazilian team, Marinho suffers setback after setback. His adventure in Santos came to an end quickly and he failed to win either Fluminense or Internacional. He then found himself surveying the lawns of the second and third division. Even after a supposedly benchmark year for him, in 2016, during which he shone for Vitória in Brasileirao, his career fell into nothingness after stints to forget at Changchun Yatai and Grêmio.

This is where Santos manifests itself again. And after a great first season that ended in second place for Brasileirao behind Flamengo, finalist of the FIFA Club World Cup 2019 ™, Marinho is living the season of his dreams. Santos makes it to the Copa Libertadores final against his compatriots Palmeiras.

The right winger spoke with FIFA.com on this final, which will be played on January 30. He also talks about his video calls with Neymar and his national team dreams.

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Marinho, you have had many disappointments in your career. What is the reason for this spectacular transformation?

I have matured enormously. When I arrived at Santos, I took advantage of the support of the supporters and all the staff of the club to give the best of myself. It is true that I have faced a lot of difficulties in my career, but I have worked very hard and I am in a good way now.

We nickname you ‘Di Marinho’ after Angel Di Maria. Do you like this nickname?

The Vitória supporters gave me this nickname when I visited in 2016 because we had more or less the same style of play. It’s a very nice nickname. He’s an incredible player, a winner, he plays for a big European club. I admire him a lot so this nickname is really nice.

Santos beat Grêmio 4-1 in the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals, then held back Boca Juniors in Argentina before winning the second leg 3-0. How do you judge this course?

All the good results we are getting today are the fruit of the work we have done since the start of the year. We created a family here, which is great, without necessarily talking about football. Each player believes in the other. In the field, we form a family and a team. We’re having some great moments at the club and I hope we can reach our goal at the end of the season.

How do you judge Palmeiras, your opponent in the final?

It’s an excellent team that has been a serious contender for the titles for several years. They are a financially powerful team. We have a lot of respect for this team. There are several great players there, including Weverton. Right now he’s a sensational goalie. The final opposes two great teams who have already won this competition. It’s a derby, which is great for the supporters. It will be a great final.

Is Santos favorite?

We worked a lot. We will keep our feet on the ground, we know it will be hard. But we worked so hard and we will start the game knowing that we have prepared very well for it.

What is your relationship with Neymar, one of the legends of Santos?

It was very nice that he asked to speak to me during his last video call. I have already played alongside him in attack in a charity match at the Maracanã. I admire him immensely. I would love for him to win The Best award. I hope he wins the next one. I am a huge fan of him. It motivates us a lot to receive the support of a player like Neymar and the king of football, Pelé. Pelé has made history, Neymar is writing it. Knowing that they are both looking at us, that they are supporting us, that makes us really happy.

If you win the Copa Libertadores, would you like to face Bayern Munich in the FIFA Club World Cup?

They won the Champions League and with the manner. Everyone dreams of playing in the FIFA Club World Cup so reaching the final and facing this Bayern side would be even more special. But we will already have to give everything we have to win the Libertadores. We don’t think about Bayern. We live in the present and a very tough game awaits us, so we focus on it. But if we win it, as soon as the final whistle blows, I will think of the Club World Cup.

How did you feel last month when Titus announced that he was thinking of you for the Selection ?

To hear the coach say your name is wonderful. If I am called up to the national team, it will be thanks to the work I have done with Santos. I want to keep showing my determination, keep working hard here, not just for Tite to summon me, but for him to be convinced that I will do everything I can to help him and the team, if he does. lines up on the ground. It would be really amazing to wear my country’s jersey. I would make a childhood dream come true.

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