The adjective ‘paradoxical’, one has to believe, was created for Casemiro, for there has never quite been such a player capable of being described in so many different ways. Humble yet outrageously arrogant, sweetly naïve yet frighteningly calculative – even Casemiro’s football combines contrasting qualities – physical strength with elegant touches.
“Watching him in Sao Paulo’s youth team, I can honestly say was like watching an adult playing amongst children,” explained Inter chief scout Pierluigi Casiraghi who had been tracking the Brazilian for many years. “He was impressive physically yet still possessed that Brazilian flair.”
Football was very much the reason for Casemiro’s existence. Having grown up in one of the poorest areas in Brazil, his father abandoned the family when the player was only three, leaving his mother in an impossible situation. There were days when the family didn’t even know where they were going to stay the night. Yet Casemiro never wanted to miss training and ensured he managed his sporting ambition in the best possible way whilst still attending to his familiar duties that included caring for his siblings.
Impressing in the 2011 South American Championship, Casemiro was hailed as the future of Brazil. Considered a real presence in midfield, the player excited onlookers with his contrasting features and versatility. However, his moment in the sun was short lived.
Robbed of his childhood, the Brazilian developed into a temperamental diva. His former Coaches, such as Emerson Leão, grew tired of managing the midfielder’s behavioural issues. A yellow card often forced Leão into substituting the player, aware that the midfielder would inevitably receive another and be sent off.
Previous admirers grew disillusioned. The talent was there but the performances were not convincing. Fans accused Casemiro of being just about the money whilst the player took to complaining to the Press, voicing his displeasure at the lack of playing time and the apparent favouritism towards Lucas Moura, his teammate. “They all praise me, they say I’m a great player, yet I never play,” he vented. “Juvenal Juvêncio (Sao Paulo President) is like a father to me, but there are a lot of people [in the club] who do not support me.”
Ney Franco, his Coach who often praised the player’s ability and performances in certain matches swiftly warned that players should earn their place on the pitch by performing and not by complaining to the press.
A change of scenery was the ideal solution and Real Madrid’s Head of Youth, Ramón Martínez, gambled on the youngster and brought him to the Spanish capital. Solid performances resulted in his stay and the player has since taken advantage of various absences in midfield to exhibit his talent during preseason.
Mesmeric performances have seen the midfielder combine incisive passing with tough tackling ability whilst the player’s desire to progress and genuine modesty has impressed management.
Confident, capable and complete, the team that gambled on Casemiro have earned the right to enjoy the paradoxical qualities of their future star.