Oscar – The secret of our samba success: When you’re a kid in Brazil you don’t worry about tactics and coaching… you just dribble the ball and score
- Chelsea star Oscar and author Tom Watt have produced a book that offers an insight into Brazil and the playmaker’s development
- Sales of the book will help a project in Sao Paulo helping homeless children
Oscar’s Brazil, by Chelsea’s young Brazilian star and author Tom Watt, will be published next month to celebrate Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup.
The book offers an insight into both the country and Oscar’s development from humble beginnings into one of Brazil’s shining lights as they try to win football’s greatest prize on home soil.
Sales of the book will help Casa de Zezino, a project in Sao Paulo helping homeless children and teenagers in the city’s favelas.
Proud: Chelsea’s Oscar celebrates Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup in a book published next month
I grew up in a suburb of Sao Paulo called Americana. Life was very different there compared to the centre of the city. There are drugs, crime and the threat of violence everywhere but Americana was a calmer, more relaxed place and the problems weren’t anything like the poorer neighbourhoods of Sao Paulo.
It was a good place to be a boy who liked football. Americana was safe enough to go off and play on my own in the park. I could be out there all day, every day. Perfect!
I learned how to play football as a kid through trial and error, playing every day in the street or in the park. When you start kicking a ball about in Brazil, there are no tactics. Whoever can dribble the ball and score just does it. And that’s what I learned to do.
I played futsal (small-sided indoor football) right up until I turned professional at 16. I think Brazilian football has reached the level it has because of futsal. The pitches are smaller. The goals are smaller. You have to be faster in everything you do; particularly, you have to make quick decisions.
Blue boy: Chelsea’s Oscar is looking forward to the prospect of playing in the World Cup in his home country
Samba success: Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Gilberto Silva celebrate lifting the 2002 World Cup after beating Germany
If you’re dribbling, you have to do it by controlling the ball in a much smaller area. If you’re shooting, you must be much more accurate because the goal – the target – is smaller.
A lot of Brazilian players are self-taught like me. My first coaching didn’t come from a club but a local escolinha, a soccer school run by the municipality so you didn’t have to pay. There was one near to where I lived next to a little local pitch.
By the time I joined my first club, Sao Paulo, I had already developed my style of play. Sao Paulo was an hour away from where I grew up. It is a fantastic city, with everything you could want; restaurants, shops, things to see and do. It’s a very busy city.
Everyone else in Brazil says people from Rio are just on the beach all day, every day. Paulistanos, they say, just work all the time; people from the south are bad-tempered. We all get stereotyped!
At Sao Paulo they said I was going to be like a new Kaka. I was supposed to do all the things Kaka had done with the club. I wanted to say: ‘No, I’m just me.’
When I joined Internacional in 2010, I moved to Porto Alegre. Because it’s down in the south, Porto Alegre has a very different culture. The people, the gauchos, have their own way of doing things, their own way of life. There’s a calmer attitude and I enjoyed that; it’s a more tranquil place than Sao Paulo.
Comparisons: At Sao Paolo, Oscar was expected to be the new Kaka when first coming through the ranks
They don’t even drink coffee like everywhere else in Brazil, but something called chimarrao, a tea made with the mate herb. They also take football very seriously down there, and maybe that’s why the city has produced so many coaches and managers, including Dunga (the 1994 World Cup-winning captain) and Felipe Scolari (the current Brazil manager who guided the country to their 2002 World Cup triumph).
I’ve been playing in London, with Chelsea, for two years now. For the many overseas Brazilian players like me, it will make a World Cup back home even more special.
I know what it feels like to play in front of a Brazilian crowd. It’s important to recognise our responsibilities and take them seriously as players – but not to let the pressure inhibit us.
Special way of life: The south of Brazil have produced coaches like Dunga (left) and Luiz Felipe Scolari (right)
When the whistle blows for kick-off, we have to make sure we let the joy in our football come through.
We have to be true to our ideals and not let the scale of the event stop us playing the way we all want. If we do that, we know we’ll have 200million Brazilians on our side, cheering us on.
It’s an incredible thing that Brazil have won World Cups everywhere but never at home because of the game they call Maracanazo, the 1950 defeat (in the final) against Uruguay. I understand the effect it had on the Brazilian people. It just makes this year that much more important.
My first strong memory of watching football was Brazil at the World Cup in 1998. I remember us getting to the final and losing to France. We were all watching together with family and friends, because I was young I was right at the front near the screen and burst into tears at the end. With lots of other people all over the country, I guess.
The most famous Brazil team were the 1970 side. It had great players – Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Tostao – but also a kind of togetherness. Look at the fourth goal in the final against Italy (regarded by many as the best goal ever scored). From one end of the field to the other; pass after pass after pass. And Carlos Alberto, the right-back, is the one who scores. That kind of goal is only possible where there’s a very special bond in the team.
Brazil legends: Jairzinho (left) was a member of Brazil’s iconic 1970 side with Pele
Icons: Carlos Alberto poses with England captain Bobby Moore prior to Brazil’s 1-0 group stage win in 1970
We realise that we’ll only be as good as past generations of Brazil teams if we are able to win as past generations did; from Pele to Ronaldinho and Ronaldo. Brazil is known for carnival. Anywhere you go during a World Cup, wherever there is a space and a big screen showing the game, people will flock together for it.
Everyone in Brazil has a mix of blood in their background. I’m mixed up all the way back through my family – I’m a mongrel! In that way, I’m just a typical ‘Brazilian’ and my family have been Brazilians as far back as we can go, back to the Indians, probably.
People have come from all over the world to live in Brazil and they have brought their own religions with them. Most people are Catholics or Evangelical but we also have African religions, Islam, Lutheranism, Hinduism, Jewish people, Italian Catholics – everybody has brought their own faith.
Together: Oscar is unsure whether the players or the supporters will be more excited hosting the World Cup
That diversity is important in Brazilian football, too. Look at the teams who have won the World Cup since 1958; there is the same mix of people from every ancestry as you see on the street. We’re proud that you can walk down the road and see people who are blond-haired, blue-eyed, olive-skinned, Indian or Japanese. Maybe it is why Brazilians have this reputation for being happy; everyone is welcome here.
We do have big divisions in Brazil but those are to do with social background. I understand those divisions because I come from a humble family although now I’m more comfortable. I’ve experienced it from both sides; our divisions are about rich and poor. There is no stigma attached to the colour of anyone’s skin in Brazil.
As you grow up as a young footballer, you dream about playing for a big club or maybe in Europe. But the first dream and the one that lasts is to play for Brazil. Our first game is against Croatia with the whole country looking on. I don’t know who is going to be the most excited: the players or the fans. Everyone will be together, feeling the same; big emotions, excitement, euphoria, pride and, we hope, joy.