Parreira: Brazil’s talent factory isn’t slowing
Posted by Dean Holden at June 25th, 2013
by Henry Winter, 27 November 2007
Master of his craft: the Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira (R)
At a time when English football is searching for its credibility and soul, let alone a new manager, it made sense to draw on the wisdom of a legendary Brazilian coach, a skilled organiser of footballing talent who knows what it takes to guide a team to World Cup glory. Even a short period in Carlos Alberto Parreira’s eloquent company here proved an age of enlightenment.
The current South Africa coach who previously guided Brazil to the 1994 World Cup and was involved in their campaigns of 1970 and 2006, as well as steering Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia into past tournaments, Parreira insists that a team are nothing without “belief”. Brazil have a “tradition” of a conviction that they will shine at the greatest stages. England do not.
Starting at the beginning, in the cradle where Brazilian fathers often place a ball next to their new-born, Parreira first argued that England must develop more players, emulating the “factory” in Rio and Sao Paulo. Then get the players to follow in the fast-moving footsteps of Ronaldinho (Gremio to Paris St-Germain and then Barcelona) and Kaka (Sao Paulo to AC Milan).
For all the beach football image of the Brazilian game, the youth structure in Brazil is sophisticated. The boy from Ipanema is recruited by a club like Vasco da Gama, who school him, accentuating the flair and broadening his awareness. Edu, Arsenal’s former midfielder, was enrolled with Corinthians at five.
“We have a mass production of players,” Parreira said. “I call it the factory. When a player is nine, he is already being evolved by a club. At 19, he has already had 10 years’ organised football. That’s why Brazil have so many good players, playing in the first division of Brazil aged 19.”
The favelas are a natural breeding ground for youngsters burning with hunger, yet Parreira stressed football’s appeal to all walks of life, smart boulevard as well as pot-holed alley. “Everybody wants to be a footballer, not only poor people, but kids from rich families want to be a Kaka or Ronaldinho as well,” Parreira added. Kaka himself hails from a wealthy background (his father is an engineer).
“There are no street players in Brazil any more. Players are built in clubs. This is the strength of Brazilian football. It is not about Pele, Kaka, Ronaldinho – it is about the system that produces them. This year we will transfer 1,300 players abroad. Ronaldinho at Barcelona and Kaka at Milan are role models for young Brazilian players to follow.”
When they move on, others move in. Talent is given a chance. In Brazil, a prospect like Theo Walcott would not be sitting on the bench; he would be starting regularly, accelerating the learning process.
Parreira, 62, is so confident about Brazil’s conveyor belt that he does not mind when some of his compatriots opt to represent other countries. “Players like Arsenal’s Eduardo becoming Croatian does not affect Brazil,” Parreira said. “They would not have possibility to play for Brazil.”
One big fish did slip through the net, causing a slight sigh from Parreira. “Deco left Brazil unknown, moved to small club in Portugal [Alverca and then Salgueiros], and then went to Porto,” Parreira said. “Deco was good enough but when we realised that, he was already Portuguese.”
Parreira’s frustration was only momentary. He knows Brazil have enough stars to remain the greatest draw on Planet Football. Even their rehearsals are mobbed. “At the World Cup in Germany last year, we had 50,000 people turn up for one training session,” he recalled.
“There were tents outside the training ground with people selling beer and bratwurst. Everyone wants to come and see Kaka and Ronaldinho. In our last qualifying game, in the north of Brazil, we were in a stadium that holds 70,000 people. The day before the game there were 70,000 in the stadium and 30,000 outside trying to get in – and that was for training.”
Home and away, Brazil pull in the crowds. “When we played in Hungary in 2004 and won 4-0, on the day we trained, the 30,000 stadium was full. It’s unbelievable how Brazil attract people. But you cannot train properly with 30,000 people shouting ‘Kaka’. Of course, the players appreciate it because their egos are so big. They love it. Football players are like artists. They need this acclaim.”
Disappointing at the 2006 World Cup, Brazil can still handle the weight of expectation on them. Parreira claimed there is an indomitability in the psyche of the Brazilian player, that they have a deep faith in the superiority of their technique and that their nation’s destiny is irrevocably tied up with the World Cup.
“However Brazil do in qualifying, you can bet we are liable to win the World Cup,” Parreira added. “The pressure is always big but we have this World Cup tradition, the players feel comfortable with the pressure.”
In such areas of mental strength, first touch and the nurturing of youngsters, particularly playmakers like Kaka, England could learn so much from Parreira’s nation.