Sports FOOTBALL We've reached the World Cup - now it's time...

We’ve reached the World Cup – now it’s time to become champions.”

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There are a few months left before the World Cup, how are you? How do you deal with your anxiety? Like me? I’m waiting but focused. We’ve made it to the World Cup; now it’s time to reach the final and become champions. This is true. At the last World Cup, I was a manager for other reasons [Dunga was fired in 2016 and Tite took over]. Now I have the opportunity to go through a full four-year cycle. Expectations are high, but the focus is on work.

I have employees with great values ​​and powers. And an extraordinary family. If I didn’t have a wife [Rosi]I wouldn’t be where I am. I lose my temper, beat the roof, do not sleep at night, like everyone else. But I have a partner who supports me, a family that supports me. I draw strength from family, work and spirituality.

Are you afraid of anything? The pressure we face is a problem: responsibility, positional pressure, demands. When I was a fan, I wanted the team to be the best. This is what drives us. But mental health is important. I think about what Mandela said: “Courage is the ability to face fear.” There was fear in every decision he made. When I read this, I saw that I am a normal citizen. I have my fears, my nightmares, my little goosebumps. Fear, but not fear; fear and anxiety are different.

I also read that Tostao [a Brazil legend who won the 1970 World Cup] said: “Glory divides man – it builds creation and impoverishes creation.” I need to take care of Adenora [Tite’s real first name]. Adenor has a life: he will continue to be a father, a grandfather. But he doesn’t want to be measured. If he wins, he will be the best. If not, then he is insulted. I can’t understand it. When I speak, I speak for my entire team. No one has a monopoly on the truth. We need to reflect on different opinions and are open to well-reasoned ideas. This is not a victory at any cost.

Alex Ferguson says that great professionals compete with themselves in a constant quest for improvement. You know why? If I compare myself to someone else, I will be upset and offended. On some points I will be better, and on others worse. I need to keep myself healthy, with a healthy mind.

Do you feel bad when you are criticized like last year? We need time to understand. Works are best seen when they are at a distance, in finished form. We have results. What are people waiting for? We broke the record [for the most points] in qualification. We have the longest unbeaten streak: 12 games [under Tite in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup] and now 17 games without defeat [in the 2022 qualifiers]. That is 29 games.

Qualifying in South America is very difficult. We have scored 13 more goals than Argentina in 17 games. We are again in first place in the FIFA rankings. We were champions [2019] America’s Cup. Also second place [in 2021]. Last time we did not win, but there was a whole process, in addition to a difficult, disturbing moment, a full range of problems that I do not want to go into. [Brazil took over hosting rights from Colombia and Argentina amid the pandemic but were criticised for doing so while tens of thousands were dying in the country]. We have kept a draw in 13 out of 17 qualifiers; Our average goals per game was above 2.5. I would also like to point out one thing: nobody wanted to play the America’s Cup and everyone was talking about it [then] the president [of Brazil’s football federation, Rogério Caboclo].

Brazil celebrates winning the 2019 Copa América. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Brazil is the most envied team? I’ll tell you a story. Italian coach mocked Miranda [the Brazil defender, then at Internazionale, after Brazil were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup by Belgium]: “What is it like to be knocked out by Belgium?” I heard this from Miranda and told Miranda that he [the Italian coach] will never know this feeling because he has never coached a nation like Brazil or even his own nation. This is envy. That’s why he asked him. Many people envy Brazil. They don’t admit it. Possibly the most enviable team in the world.

It’s about lack of respect and envy. This is the legacy that I carry, the legacy that we carry, the story of Pele, Zagallo, Tostao, Garrinchi. If Zagallo is criticized, how can I not be? Most jealous of Brazil? I think so, but when I go out, everyone asks me how I withstand the pressure of the Brazil coach.

Neymar recently said he was tired and this World Cup could be his last. Are you worried about Neymar? Have you spoken to him about this? You said “recently”. We should pay attention to when it happened [the interview was released last October but had been recorded months earlier, either soon after PSG had lost a Champions League semi-final or Brazil had lost the Copa final]. If I spoke immediately after the elimination from the cup, I would also be extremely upset. It needs to be contextualized. We talk to all players, including Neymar, about the physical, technical, tactical and psychological preparation for the decisive games. We share insights. Because of the greatness of Neymar, there will always be high expectations. But now it’s diluted. This is Neymar, as well as Vinicius, Rafinha; thiago [Silva] again at a high level, Paqueta, Casemiro, Fabinho too.

Neymar hugs Vinicius Junior after his goal against Chile in March's World Cup qualifier.
Neymar hugs Vinicius Junior after his goal against Chile in March’s World Cup qualifier. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Is your best player Neymar or is it time for Vinicius? Neymar is Neymar. He remains our biggest star. The difference now is that the glow is diluted by neighboring stars, which can also shine. The greatness of Neymar is that he understands this – about the growth of these babies. He encourages the boys to level up. Time and experience provide this maturity.

What will it be like to play in the World Cup without a mother? She died in 2019 My mother’s innocence… it was beautiful. When we won the America’s Cup, she asked me if it was more important than the World Cup. Honey… I explained that it’s not the same cup, but it’s also hard. I am calm. What I do is also their will. [Tite gets teary-eyed.] I am doing my father’s will. He was my first coach. I know I make them proud. My mother always gave me a lot of faith, my father loves sports. I’m fine, I have their light, their energy.

I can only play football for 15 minutes with my grandchildren. I can’t do more because they are very intense. Then their grandmother goes to play with them for a bit. I can’t stop playing football. This is my pleasure, my satisfaction.

I need to watch a lot of videos and games, but there are also moments with my family. I like being with Rosie, walking with her. I love books, chimarrão [maté], coffee to be with my children and grandchildren. I like films. I read a lot – it strengthens me. But I don’t turn off; I always ask for something to write down.

Tite next to the tactical board.
Tite plans to spend a year with his family and studies after the World Cup. Photo: Keeper

Will this World Cup affect your future? Of course. If you win the world championship, you will get an open market. You can choose. I won’t lie: my idea is definitely not to work in Brazil. I want to spend a year with my family, take a year off, study, not have any responsibility, because the responsibility is too big. If something comes from outside, it will happen. Now I have the responsibility and the joy of being a Selesao coach. I’m not even going to talk to anyone.

But have you had offers in the past to lead a European club? Yes, Real Madrid and Sporting. What I like is that when a European club shows interest in a professional, they have a conversation to explain what they need. It’s really cool. There was another club that wanted to talk to me, but I refused: PSG. [after Unai Emery left in May 2018]. They wanted to talk to me and I said I wouldn’t; I don’t want to and I won’t. I don’t want to open this opportunity for something else. I want to be focused on my work. After another story.

At the World Championship [just before the 2018 tournament]They [Madrid] they said they wanted to talk, and I said no, I won’t talk, don’t come close. I want to be at peace with myself and my work. I am doing everything possible. When you do something in parallel, you are not doing it to its fullest. I can not do it. I received offers from Real Madrid, PSG and Sporting. But I didn’t want that. I want to win the world championship. After the World Cup, I will decide my future.

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