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FIFA U-17 World Cup: This is why Brazil’s Paulinho idolises Cristiano Ronaldo

Brazil’s Paulinho idolises Cristiano Ronaldo as the Portuguese and Real Madrid star has the ambition to always want to be a better player. Brazil will take on Germany in the quarterfinal of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 21, 2017 19:01 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Cristiano Ronaldo
Paulinho idolises Cristiano Ronaldo and he will be the key in Brazil’s key quarter-final clash against Germany in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Like many teenagers, Paulinho wears braces on his teeth and loves video games. Unlike most of them though, he is also used to playing in front of 40,000 fans who don’t like his deep friendship with a football.

For Paulinho even that away game experience --- it happened at his club Vasco da Gama --- was something to learn from. “It was a good experience,” said the Brazil forward here on Saturday when asked if he has ever played before 60,000, which could be the turnout in Sunday’s quarter-final against Germany. Of course, Kolkata is unlikely to make him feel like he is at an away game.

For someone who is a generation or two younger than Oscar, Neymar and Gabriel Jesus, Paulinho has as idol a player who wasn’t made in Brazil. “My inspiration is Cristiano Ronaldo. He has the ambition to always want to be a better player. He is always looking to develop himself and for that he has to be very hard-working,” he said.

But when it came to answering whether, like CR7, he too would like to move abroad, Paulinho echoed Brazil goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao’s answer to the same question. “We are only thinking about this World Cup. Yes, this presents us with an opportunity but for now, we are only thinking about our role in this competition. The consequences of what we make as a group though could help us in future,” said Paulinho who has two goals and two assists in 318 minutes of football in four games of this World Cup. It took him eight games in the South American championship to achieve that.

‘Goal to be champs’

Asked whether messages from Brazil senior team players add to the pressure that comes with playing a World Cup, Paulinho said: “They have been at this competition before and now, it is our turn. That senior players actually have words of support makes us happy. It is motivating, not adding to the pressure.”

Those players haven’t won an under-17 World Cup but Paulinho said this squad can end the 14-year wait. “We are working to be champions, have been together for two years (in which Brazil have played five tournaments including winning the South American championships this year) to try and achieve that, we have prepared for moments like these. And tomorrow (Sunday), we will be playing in the stadium that will host the final. But each match is difficult and we are not going to get ahead of ourselves. We can’t think of the final before a quarter-final. But the goal is to be champions,” he said.

First Published: Oct 21, 2017 18:59 IST