Ricardo, thank you so much for joining us on the ‘Real…’ series. You must be delighted with your current form and the way Real Madrid are playing at the moment.
Yes, I’m very happy for this. I’m back in shape so I can play better than I did before. I’m also happy for Real Madrid because we won three games after two bad matches against Racing and Levante. I think the team has a new face.
This is your third season now on the team, but it’s the first time you were able to put in a full preseason with Real Madrid. How has that helped you progress this campaign?
I think the preseason is so important… The last preseason I had, I believe, was in 2007. It’s very important because the season is so long and you have to be in shape to play on Sunday, Wednesday and Sunday again, so having a preseason with the team this year was fantastic for me and very important.
You began your career when you were eight years old at Sao Paulo. You were there for more than ten years. What did you learn there and how did it shape you as a footballer?
I’m so grateful to Sao Paulo because that’s where the groundwork was laid for me to become a football player. I started there when I was eight years old and stayed until I was 21, when I left to play for Milan. Everything I learned as a kid I learned at Sao Paulo. I am very grateful because I learned a lot of things… A lot of things… We learn every day, but I learned many things at Sao Paulo.
We gave the fans an opportunity to ask you a question today and we’ve had e-mails in from all over the world. We picked one of those out and they asked which football player inspired you as a child?
Thank you to everybody who sent messages. My favourite player was Rai. He played for Sao Paulo when they won the first Club World Cup in Japan against Barcelona. Rai was the most important player on that team. Rai was my idol and a great example of a football player for me to follow. He returned to Brazil after he played for Paris Saint-Germain. He’s now got several charities in Brazil… He’s a very nice guy. Rai is my greatest inspiration.
We’ve heard you say in the past (maybe when you were a little bit older) that Ronaldo was a player you really liked to watch. Then you went on to win the World Cup with him, with Brazil. How was that?
That World Cup was amazing because when I went to the World Cup I was 20 years old. Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Cafu were all there when I got there. It was amazing for me, being 20 years old, to play, train and spend the day with these players. It was a great experience. Especially being with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo because we more or less played in the same position. I watched them play for so long… Ronaldo is the best footballer I’ve ever played with.
Of course Ronaldo was here under Florentino Perez, who signed you for Real Madrid. He’s always supported you. How does it feel to have the support of the Real Madrid President?
It’s great. Florentino has always said good words to, and about, me. He said I would stay and see my dream of playing with Real Madrid come through. I want to thank Florentino, the club, my teammates and the supporters because the things I went through were not easy, but I managed to pull through thanks to their support.
Yes, it’s not been easy for you. In your first two seasons here at Real Madrid things were a little difficult due to injury. What was that like?
It was very difficult because I first had problems in my groin area and later on my knee. There was a lot of doubt, with people asking themselves if I’d ever be back or not: “Will Kaka play well again? Or not?” So it’s not easy, but I think things are going well now and I can show more of what I can do for Real Madrid.
Also, another person who’s always been a big supporter of yours is Jose Mourinho, and he said on your return from injury that you’d make the difference for this team. What’s it like to have the backing of the best coach in the world.
It’s great to have it because Mourinho always stayed behind me. His staff and everybody who works with him have always been there. It’s not easy. You train every day, but some days things don’t go well, so every time someone would come over and say something positive. The moment I didn’t believe any more Mourinho stood by me and said encouraging things so that I would continue to believe that things would be good for me at Real Madrid.
Well, you are back and it’s been great for us all to see. How is your confidence at the moment and how does it feel to be back to your best?
My confidence is better now. It’s increased, but I know that I haven’t done anything yet, so I have to do a lot of work. We’ll see what the balance is at the end of the season. I feel I have the chance to make a difference this season.
This season we’ve seen some fantastic attacking football already from Real Madrid, and you’ve played a key role in that. What’s it like to be part of the team at the moment and what’s the mood like in the dressing room?
It’s very good. The dressing room at Real Madrid is very good. I think the mood is amazing. A lot of people say that it’s not good, that the Portuguese form a group, that the Spaniards form another… That’s not true. Everybody respects everybody. We have a great relationship between us. I think this year can be a good year for Real Madrid.
What’s the chemistry like on the pitch between you players up front: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, yourself, Higuain…?
It’s easy to play with them. They are very intelligent, and once we know the dynamic we must have, how we must play, it’s easier. I can play with Ozil and Cristiano; or with Ozil, Di Maria and Higuain… I think everybody can play with everybody. I think that’s the best thing the manager can do with this team.
Long season ahead; three competitions. What are your hopes personally, and then with the team as well?
I think Real Madrid always think about winning, so we need to win something. It’s our responsibility. The footballers who play for Real Madrid think like that because I think we are all winners. So we need to think about winning. I hope at the end of the season we can celebrate good championships.
We all do. Thank you very much for your time Ricardo.