EXCLUSIVE - Raisa Simplicio
Versatile, intelligent and just about as fit as footballers get, Ze Roberto played out a remarkable and long career that saw him make history just about everywhere he went.
In addition to titles with Portuguesa, Palmeiras, Santos and Bayern Munich, the former player also shone with Brazil.
A member of the 2006 World Cup squad, ‘Zé’ was a two-time Copa America-winner and also twice helped the Selecao to Confederations Cup glory. He was also understudy to the great Roberto Carlos at France ’98.
He finally called time on his career last year, having played on past his 43rd birthday – and few would suggest he looked anywhere near past it even then. But everything comes to an end.
For Ze Roberto, however, that end brought a new beginning with an advisory role at Palmeiras, where he spent his final three seasons grabbing a Copa do Brasil title and lifting the Brasileirao first division.
This week he will have his eyes set firmly on the Brasil Global Tour, and is intrigued by the process of transition that coach Tite is overseeing following this year’s World Cup in Russia.
“I think the Selecao is going through a period of evolution and are giving opportunities to new players,” he told Brasil Global Tour.
“I think this vision, the mentality Tite has, is really important so that he can build a competitive team and that can fight in the upcoming competitions, because Brazil have so much potential. Right now, it’s all about preparing for the Copa America and I think they are on the right track.”
While he ended his playing days back at left-back, Ze Roberto spent almost a decade as one of Europe’s leading midfielders and believes it is that area where the Selecao excel today.
"This is a very strong midfield,” he said. “I think he already has a [combination] in mind but there are many other possibilities to include players with different characteristics.
“I think it's up to the coach, to go with the vision that Tite has as he fits all the pieces together so that he forms a highly competitive team that can win titles again.”
Further back, renovations appear more necessary after Brazil went into the World Cup with a back-four that featured three players who are now past their 34th birthdays.
But Ze Roberto, of course, would go on for another nine years past that milestone. And after Miranda said he could go on until World Cup 2022, perhaps Ze can offer some advice.
“I think if the player takes care of himself then he can go on as long as he wants, at least that’s what allowed me to maintain my level and remain physically able to continue to 43-years-old,” Ze Roberto added.
“I always took good care of myself in my career, I always had the vision to pay special attention to my physical condition and that allowed me to play to a high level much later on in my career.
“It depends on the performance of the individual, the mentality of the coaching staff, but anything is possible. The squad has players who are professional and take great care of themselves for their career and maybe they can play at high level until they are 40 or older.”