'50 metres behind me and I'm in a one-on-one? F*ck!' - Pepe reveals defensive 'chaos' at Real Madrid

Pepe Real Madrid
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The Portuguese defender was a big player for the Spanish champions but it was not always easy for him

Pepe has opened up on his time at Real Madrid, claiming he arrived to chaos and a club with no defensive cohesion.

The 37-year-old is in the dying embers of his career, and is back at Porto for a second spell at the club.

He left Porto for Madrid in 2007, and was warned that the environment was not an ideal one for an emerging central defender.

Early in his career at the club, he learned a harsh lesson in terms of the team’s commitment to the defensive side of the game.

"My first game was against Atletico Madrid." Pepe told Marca . "I was coming from a club that was organised tactically where, if the ball was on the left, you have to press there. If it was on the right, you pressed there - things like that, the basics.

"And what I came across at Real Madrid was chaos. In the 30th minute, our attack broke down and they came at us one against one and we ran backwards.

"I looked back to Fabio [Cannavaro] and said to him: 'Fabio! Fabio! Cover, cover!' And he said to me: 'No, no, we don't do that here. Each person has their own side'. And I was like: 'It's like that? F*ck me'.

"I was looking around and saw the full-backs high up, the defensive midfielder forward. I was thinking: 'What? There's 50 metres behind me and I'm in a one-on-one?'"

Cannavaro won the Ballon d’Or shortly after joining Madrid, but Pepe’s first interaction with the legendary Italian defender was a frosty one and he revealed that living in a dressing room full of superstars was not easy.

"In pre-season, I practically didn't talk - I only trained and watched, because I'm an observer," Pepe said of his first season at the club. "It was about work and more work.

"Then, we were on a plane to Austria and [Cannavaro] happened to sit in front of me. I caught him reading a magazine and, when I realised that he'd finished it and the plane was about to take off, I put on a brave face and asked him: 'Cannavaro, Cannavaro, can you give me the magazine?'

"And Cannavaro looked back and said to me: 'Cannavaro? My name is Fabio'. And he turned his back on me. I didn't know what to do. It seemed like an eternity before he gave me the magazine."

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Pepe played alongside greats of the game such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas to name but three - and he says it was a highly-charged dressing room.

"It wasn't an easy dressing room," Pepe continued. "All the players were top internationals. As a result, everyone was important, not only the starters.

"But there's a brutal pressure: if you win, things are going well, you stay in the team and at the club. If you don't win, you're out, another player comes in and is ready. If you don't perform, you have others waiting that want to put pressure on your place, so you always have to be at your best."

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