What do you like about this song?
I like to listen to it before games. It puts me in the right frame of mind.
What is Pepe like away from the pitch? What are you like when you are with your friends, family or even in the team dressing room before a game? And why is it that you always seem to have a smile on your face. Doesn't Pepe ever have a bad day?
I'm very privileged to be where I am. I consider myself a happy person and I have to thank the Lord for all his help. I love to spend time with my family and friends. I believe that family and friends are the most important people in your life. I always try to treat those near me as best as I can, as they give me strength and inspiration to continue on my path.
The first team you played for in Portugal was Maritimo, but if I'm not mistaken, you signed for them with a broken foot...
I had signed for Maritimo a couple of months before I broke my ankle. My last game in Brazil was on Sunday, and I remember I was going to fly out to Portugal on Tuesday. With almost the last kick of the game (it must have been around the 88th minute), I was on the end of a strong challenge. It caught me slightly off balance and I ended up breaking my ankle. Straight after it happened I was rushed to the hospital. They wanted to operate, but my mom wasn't having any of it. She said that she was not going to give them permission to operate on a seventeen year old. She added that they should put it in plaster, and that I would recover without the need of surgery. I was a healthy young man.
How long were you side-lined for?
Six months. Well it was actually five months. It took six months before I started playing again. When I arrived at Maritimo I spent most of the time with the physios. The team doctor said that I should’ve had surgery but as the injury took place some time ago now, there was need for an operation. They just had to wait for the bone to heal. I had signed to play for the youth team, but after just two or three games, I was promoted to the reserves. After 11 or so games with the reserves, the first team boss called me up to the first team along with another centre back from the reserve team. There were still four league games left to go, but with one defender out injured and another suspended we got our chance to make an impression. We were told we had from Monday to Thursday to convince the manager, while training, which of the two of us should start. I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity and gave it 100%. I was disciplined and stayed behind after training to work on my mistakes. On Wednesday, the boss said that I deserved the chance. The other defender returned to his previous team. I ended up playing the final four games. It was an amazing experience.
Would you say you were at your lowest during the months you were out injured having just signed for Maritimo? You were also alone, having left your family behind in Brazil…
Two periods stand out. The first was when I arrived at Maritimo and didn't know anyone. I had left behind a very humble life in Brazil to move to a completely new culture. There was no language barrier but everything was very different. And the second time was when I suffered that knee injury playing for Real Madrid. Those two setbacks have made me stronger.
What exactly did you learn from those two setbacks?
You learn to value life more. You have a greater appreciation for the people around you and you learn not to worry too much about criticism that may come your way, or what people who may not like you have to say. It's impossible to be friends with everyone. There will always be people looking to put you down. But now I don't let what they think bother me. My approach to football has changed and I'm more relaxed and calm about everything.
You held down a place in the first team at Maritimo and you were soon starting for the team. The FC Porto came for you. What an opportunity…
I had played four times for Maritimo the previous season. Sporting Lisbon were looking for a centre back. That's when I first met Cristiano, but I didn't end up staying at Sporting. I then received a call from the FC Porto President who said I needn't worry. They would sign me if I stayed in top form during the season. I was overjoyed. FC Porto had just won the UEFA Cup. I wanted to play for them because I knew I would win titles with them. They were the most successful team in Portugal and their players were then sold to bigger teams in Europe. I worked hard and the game against FC Porto eventually arrived. I had a bit of a run-in with Deco, but the President afterwards said he liked my style and that I should be playing for FC Porto. Several other European teams also wanted me, but I knew that I wanted to sign for FC Porto.
You continued playing in Portugal and soon there were a lot more teams looking to sign you. Despite all interest, Pepe decided to join Real Madrid. What does it mean to you to play for Real Madrid?
It means a lot to me. I used to watch Real Madrid play in Brazil. I used to swap things with my friends and one day I managed to get hold of a McManaman Real Madrid shirt. I had always wanted a Real Madrid shirt.
What did you have to trade?
I don't remember, but quite a lot. But it was definitely worth it, by far one of my best swaps. I used to watch Real Madrid play from a very young age.
Your performances earned you the respect and love of fans, team-mates and the entire club. You were also rewarded for your efforts with a contract extension. How much does this new deal mean to you?
A lot! I've always given my all here and played with plenty of heart to try to help Real Madrid achieve their goals. The day I signed my contract extension was very special to me. I was delighted to get the chance to stay at the club longer. I love everyone who works for the club, my team-mates and the people at the stadium. I am playing for the best club. As an institution this is the best there is, just as the people who work here.
You are very at home in Madrid. You have bought a home and you have a partner called Sofia. Your brother-in-law Jorge is also a great person, and it's true that he has helped you to be happy.
He normally attends the team's training sessions. Now they’re not normally open to the public, but he’s always there. Sometimes I ask him to stay at home as no-one else will be there. He still comes, though, and ends up spending time with some of the people who work for the club.
You have a private collection at home that you like to show to friends and family. One of your most prized treasures is a Fernando Hierro shirt.
Soon after I joined the club I had lunch with Hierro at the Football Federation's headquarters in Las Rozas. He presented me with a shirt. That top and a pair gloves Iker Casillas gave me during my first season, when we won the league title, preside over my collection. They are very dear to me.
What does Pepe like to get up to after training, at lunch or during the afternoon? I've been told that you like shopping. You enjoy pushing the trolley down the aisles...shopping at Makr... You also like going to the cinema and chilling out in street terraces.
There's a lot that I love about Madrid. When I'm feeling tired I just stay home. Other days I like to go out with Sofia. I enjoy being out and about and mixing with people. In Brazil it's very common to spend time outdoors meeting people, and just trying to enjoy life to the fullest. But yes, I enjoy shopping, even when it’s choosing cleaning products.
Is it true that you want to travel around the world with Marcelo in a caravan?
Yes. It's true. How did you find out?!
I'm trying to imagine Pepe and Marcelo in a caravan in somewhere like Thailand.
I've always loved road trips. My dad drives for a living and I've always told Sofia that one day, when we have children, I would like travel in a caravan around Europe and visit other places. I want to discover lots of new places. It's one of my dreams, and hopefully one day I can make it come true.
But what does it mean? I've also heard Casillas mentioning it before.
Yes, Casillas also knows what it means. He was on holiday with his girlfriend in Brazil, actually not too far from where I used to live. Well, when I was back there, I spoke a lot of Portuguese, and when I got back my Spanish was a bit rusty. Well, I tried to explain to Iker that when I was there it was quite damp, but instead of saying it in Spanish, it came out in Portuguese. I said
There's a great vibe in the dressing room.
Yes, there's a great atmosphere in the dressing room. We have a very good squad and Real Madrid is the best club around. We have the best players and I believe that we are a very strong team. We will be challengers for all of the titles.
Casillas described the dressing room as a family and that the manager has played a very important part making sure there's a positive vibe. And what about all this paper talk about a possible fall out between Pepe and Carvalho? There are a lot of people who are trying to…
There are a lot of people out there envious of Real Madrid and they often try to create something out of nothing. I don't have a problem with Carvalho, it's something that happened with him while he was on international duty. He's still my teammate and a friend and I respect him for his achievements in football. He’s still making an impression here at Real Madrid and he is a true professional.
It goes without saying that Pepe is always there for his teammates, regardless of tenure. For example, you are supportive of youth team players. You always find time to help them out.
That's how I've always been treated, and I like to try to act the same way. When I was down, heavyweights on the squad used to take time out to chat with me, to see what could be wrong or what was bothering me. I just try to do the same with the younger players. I've been at the club longer and, if manage to help to them, they will no doubt help the club win titles.
There will be a lot of people from around the world tuning in to watch this interview, to follow your progress. They will also be excited with the current group of players and also about Real Madrid's prospects this season. Many fans agree the team can do something very special this season.
I have very fond memories of the Copa del Rey win against Barcelona. That day I really understood what 'Madridismo' and being a Real Madrid fan is all about. It was great to see the fans celebrating with us. Many people are envious of Real Madrid and of Madridismo. The footballers and club executives are united and we will be a force to be reckoned with. We are moving in the right direction and, if we can keep progressing, we will have reasons to celebrate.
Well, time has really flown by. I know that we are not normally this formal, but it has been an enjoyable interview. Many people regard you as a classy central defender, the number one, and hopefully now, after this interview, people will not only see you as the number one when it comes to defending, but they will also give you top marks as a person. The interview wasn't that bad now was it?
No, it was quite good. Thank you.