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Restaurant recollections with Vinicius and Lucas – the extended extracts

Tue 17 November 2020, 17:46|Tottenham Hotspur

Carlos Vinicius recently linked up with fellow countryman Lucas Moura for a trip to a Brazilian restaurant in London to reflect on the striker’s journey to Spurs.

Signed on loan from Portuguese side Benfica last month, Carlos recalled his difficult early years in youth football back home in Brazil, discussing how he was on the brink of giving the game up before getting his big break with Real Sport Clube in Portugal.

Spells at Napoli, Rio Ave and Monaco followed for the man from Bom Jesus das Selvas in the north-east Brazilian state of Maranhão before he lit up Portugal’s Primeira Liga last season with Benfica, emerging as the division’s joint-top scorer prior to making the switch here to north London.

Our Spurs TV cameras were on hand to capture an at-times emotional conversation as Carlos reflected on the challenges he’s faced, including a lack of game time in Brazil, changing positions on the field and the passing of his mother, all of which led him to question his future.

But with a young family in tow, he made it through and is now delighted to be part of our squad in the Premier League.

Here are some of the unseen exchanges between Carlos and Lucas as they chatted over lunch at one of Lucas’ favourite eateries...

Arriving for dinner

Lucas: “The idea is for the fans to get to know you a little more… you have to talk about yourself a bit and so on. You have to talk about the youth academy in Brazil, about when you were a centre-back…”
Carlos: “Okay!”
Lucas: “So, kind of… when I got here I started researching Brazilian restaurants and found this one. They had good ratings and all, I saw their menu and thought ‘let’s give it a go’. Man, we got here and you know, right away… They have some manioc and shrimp dishes that are just… what a shame you can’t have a little bit of shrimp!”
Carlos: “They also have pastel…”
Lucas: “They’ve got pastel, they’ve got picanha too. There’s fried chicken, chicken nuggets… wow, too good!”
Carlos: “They’ve got feijoada!”
Lucas: “They’ve got feijoada, there’s those rissoles… breaded, you know, as a starter. Good old Brazilian food, right? Can’t go without it. All the time when we have visits at home, friends, family, we come over here.”

Spurs TV special – getting to know Carlos Vinicius

Far from home in Palmeiras

Carlos: “As a young player, I got a message from the management at Santos saying I didn’t match what they were looking for and after that the opportunity came up for me to go to Palmeiras.”
Lucas: “So you were living there, too?”
Carlos: “Yes, I was living there, in Barra Funda.”
Lucas: “Near the stadium? I see. Yeah, I lived close by there… in Perdizes.”
Carlos: “Near Bourbon and West Plaza, the other shopping mall there. I was in Palmeiras for a year-and-a-half, almost two years.”
Lucas: “And with this you… for instance, when you were living in Santos, in Palmeiras, would you get a chance to go home when you wanted? Or was it harder to get the chance to go to Maranhão?”
Carlos: “No, just once a year. Once a year… and even that wasn’t for sure.”
Lucas: “Wow. And your family wouldn’t be able to go and see you?”
Carlos: “Not much. And also after my son was born it got harder to visit Maranhão, because in financial terms, it wasn’t just me travelling, I had to take my son and wife.”
Lucas: “Right, and even more so at that time, in the youth academy… it would be quite an expense, travelling. You’d need a plane for three people from São Paulo to Maranhão.”
Carlos: “Crazy, too expensive. It was for three people, you see, because I didn’t want to go by myself. I had to go via São Luís, Imperatriz…”
Lucas: “But then once you got into the city, from Imperatriz to your town… another two hours, right? Then would someone go and get you or did you have to get a taxi or something?”
Carlos: “No, someone from the family would come and get me. I also have family in Imperatriz, which is the closest airport. They’d come and get me. But yeah, it’s practically a whole day travelling. It’s a long way.”

A move to Portugal, but still a long way from home

Carlos: “So I got to Caldense, I also spent a year, year-and-a-half with them, but had no opportunities. And after that I went to Grêmio Anápolis, but also, in terms of official games, I played only one official game there. But since that’s a club that sends many players to Europe, their scouts go there and watch both training sessions and games, a scout saw me during training and the director of Real Sport Clube in Portugal made me an invitation to go there.”
Lucas: “How old were you then – 20? Did you come with your family or by yourself?”
Carlos: “I was 22. First I came by myself, spent some time to see how things were and all, then I came with everyone.”
Lucas: “Wow. And then… man, it’s always hard to get back home, right?”
Carlos: “It’s tough, it’s tough. Like once a year. Even when there are breaks here in Europe, like Christmas, in the case of Real, it’s impossible to go back… it’s just four or five days. I mean, to São Paulo, it’s still possible…”
Lucas: “One day to get to São Paulo.”
Carlos: “Well, in this case it’s two days, one to go there and one to go back.”
Lucas: “Yeah, you get to the city, say hello and go back.”

Stability in Europe

Lucas: “When you did well with Real, when you signed your contract with Napoli and all… then you told yourself: 'Well, now I’m a professional, stable player’, because before you were just drifting, right?”
Carlos: “Right, because a five-year contract with Napoli, that’s crazy. It’s great, man. I did the pre-season, which was normal, given my club moved down in the league. It was a second division Portuguese club, so you’re not going to make it to Napoli and already start playing. So I did the pre-season and after that they loaned me to Rio Ave. That was… 2019. Last year.”
Lucas: “Were there any Brazilians in Napoli?”
Carlos: “There was Allan, who is now at Everton of course. So I got there, was loaned to Rio Ave… first game, goal. I was there for six months, half a season, scored 14 goals, then went to Monaco.”
Lucas: “So you went to Monaco, six months there, then Benfica acquired you.”
Carlos: “Yes, Benfica acquired me. I didn’t even go back to Napoli.”
Lucas: “After the contract with Napoli and especially Benfica, you could also go and see your family in Maranhão? Everything was more stable?”
Carlos: “Yeah, it was a lot more stable because when I was in that situation in Brazil, I was always working under pressure. You know how it is in Brazil, you start to play, then you’re unemployed.”
Lucas: “Right, you don’t have all that stability because, Caldense, Grêmio Anápolis, they couldn’t do a five-year contract that gives you some stability.”
Carlos: “I spent a year with Caldense, a year or so, and played only one game. It’s even funny – the trainer would tell me that I was a player who’d be successful in Europe.”
Lucas: “And you’d be like: ‘But I’m not even playing here!’”
Carlos: “But then you start understanding that everything has a purpose, it’s God’s work. I thank him that I went through that with Caldense because it’s what taught me, gave me roots, you see… to play today. When you have your wife and your son, then you think 'wait, now there are people who depend on me’. And at that time I hadn’t even got money to buy diapers for my son. It was my father-in-law who supported us. Once we had a break, at Caldense, for the weekend, and during that we could go back (home). It was a three or four-day break but for going back I didn’t even have the money, I had to ask my father-in-law. I asked him to give me 240 Brazilian real (currency). I remember it to this day. He gave me it so I could pay for the ticket. So he supported us, and me too. I stayed at his place. Even up to nowadays he considers me as a son.”
Lucas: “What I always say is that a victory without sweat is a victory without glory, right? All the grind you went through and then look where you are now. You value much more nowadays, after all this that you experienced. Beccause you know the other side, you’ve been through the grind.”
Carlos: “All that I went through, I never swore at a trainer, never complained why I wouldn’t be able to play. They would say: ‘This guy is too nice, that’s why you don’t play. You have to go at them’ and so on, but no…”

Pride and hope for a small Brazilian town

Carlos: “Imagine, you leave that little town, where nobody even dreams. There are no dreams… it’s a little town. So, if you look at me, that God gave me this, it can make people start dreaming again, you know.”
Lucas: “Exactly, you’re a great example. Your town, it has 30,000 inhabitants, right? So, you left it to chase your dreams and look where you are now. And you think, how many people are there now? Now they can look at you and say: ‘It’s not impossible’. So you can tell yourself: ‘I’m an example’. Imagine what a celebration it must be when you get there! Because you gave them what they needed the most -- hope. Before you, they’d say: 'Man, who ever left this place?’ And now there’s hope.”
Carlos: “It’s really incredible. It’s too far from things, the town. It’s too far. But it’s my little place for peace and quiet.”

Hardships for all... and a compassionate Jose

Lucas: “When you talk about the spiritual side... it doesn’t even compare to the glory that will be revealed, right? Because you think you’re on the worst of it, but when the victory comes… it’s crazy. It’s a thousand times better. The last six months I spent at PSG, I attended training but wasn’t even sent to the field. I went back home, everyone was going to the bus, getting ready… and I was going back home. In the end I wasn’t even wearing my playing uniform anymore, as I knew I wouldn’t be called. So then I’m with Tottenham and one game, that game with Ajax, that one already made up for those six months I spent there. And everything I’ve been experiencing here these two years, it’s going to be three years soon already…. What I have been through here, so many games, so many emotions. It’s crazy! When you learned about Tottenham’s interest in you, and you saw that there’s Mourinho, too, who speaks Portuguese – that really helps, doesn’t it? When you talk to the trainer and you can understand him…”
Carlos: “I remember he called me and said: ‘So, are you ready?’”
Lucas: “Crazy! Imagine, you’re just answering like ‘hello’ and he’s like ‘this is Mourinho’. Wow!”
Carlos: “He’s not just anybody. Imagine that, the best trainer in the world calling you, showing concern about you… This puts you at ease, you see. And he knows that this is very important to a player. It’s completely different. Even while being at the top, he knows, as a person…”
Lucas: “So here you’ve got everything already – a top-notch club, Premier League, plus a coaching team that speaks Portuguese. It’s a no brainer!”
Carlos: “It makes things much easier, yes.”

A goal celebration with unusual origins

Lucas: “Your goal celebration… it started at Monaco?”
Carlos: “Yeah, it started with Monaco. It’s a Brazilian YouTube channel, Bit Fut, which plays FIFA and all that. So my character does this pose… and I was like ‘okay, it did the pose’. Then when I checked my team’s account on Instagram, it was full of comments saying ‘do the pose, you have to do the pose’. And I’m like: ‘Do the pose? What’s this thing with the pose?’ Then they sent me a message on Instagram explaining, so I said ‘okay’. I scored for Monaco and did the pose…”
Lucas: “That’s when it blew up…”
Carlos: “So then Monaco also got in on the joke, sent my shirt to Bit Fut, then I did a video for them and all. So it was all about the pose, the pose, the pose. Then I moved to Benfica and I said, ‘okay, time to leave the pose aside’. Then I came to Benfica to do the presentation video when I signed…”
Lucas: “And you have to do the pose!”
Carlos: “So they told me, like, ‘sit there on the chair, turn around and do the pose’. And I was like: ‘Oh, this caught on. Even here I’ll have to do that thing!’ So I said: ‘since we’re here, let’s go with this.’”
Lucas: “Now you have to do it here, everybody’s looking forward to that!”