clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Marcelo: The Boy From Botafogo

From humble beginnings, the Brazilian has risen to be one of the best left-backs in the sport

Gremio v Real Madrid: Final - FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

I’ve written a few words here and there about Marcelo. When I started watching Real Madrid he would drive me insane, always pushing up way too far and at times getting roasted trying to get back to his defensive duties. Sometimes it just seemed like he got lost in his quest for the ball and forgot that he needed to defend.

For the longest time, he was not on the list of my favorite Real Madrid players. I was missing the guy he replaced – the irreplaceable Roberto Carlos. When Marcelo signed with the club, he was signed to be Roberto’s understudy.

This is what President Ramón Calderón said upon Marcelo’s arrival at Real Madrid: "He is an important signing for us. He is a young player who will inject some freshness into the side and is part of our plan to bring younger players into the squad. We're very happy because he's a pearl that half of Europe wanted."

Originally, he was to be sent to Castilla to get him integrated into the club – but coach Fabio Capello had a different plan. Marcelo would stay with Real Madrid’s first team. He didn’t play a lot, and was sometimes left off the squad list. Though he learned a lot in the first season, even if he wasn’t always getting playing time.

If it wasn’t for Marcelo’s grandfather, we would not be witnessing his greatness today. I don’t throw around the words ‘World Class’ very often, because a lot of the time, it’s used in excess, and it dilutes the meaning. But, you can say without a doubt that he is absolute World Class.

When I came to start supporting Real Madrid, it happened to be Marcelo’s 2010-2011 breakout season. It would be under the watchful eye of Jose Mourinho who would put him back in his natural left-back position. He was doing so well that in November he would be named to the 55-player shortlist for the FIFA World XI. This would also be the season where I’d pull out my hair every now and then, watching Marcelo bust his ass up the wing.

The 2010/2011 season would see Marcelo net his first ever Champions League goal, which he bagged against Olympic Lyonnais. He would also assist a goal by Karim Benzema and would go on to be named the man of the match. In the end, he would score five goals and pick up ten assists in over 4,000 minutes. Not only would he get time at left-back put he would get a cup of coffee as a center-mid and left-mid. Even now he’s played left-wing at times, when Zidane is trying one of his more experimental lineups.

This is a guy that as a kid was playing pick-up football, or even futsal, and would always want to be like Roberto Carlos. Who knew that that kid from Botafogo would one day replace his mentor and idol at Real Madrid.

What attracted me to Marcelo’s playing style was his full-bore-go from the first whistle to the last. Since that 2010/2011 breakout season he’s done nothing other than solidify his place as a legend of the Royal Whites. While he isn’t finished playing, and the ‘legend’ label should be extended to those who have played their last matches, it’s no doubt that he’s a shoe-in.

He is on his way to becoming a Real Madrid legend. Look no further than La Decima. He did something even Roberto Carlos hasn’t done — score a goal in a European final. While his 16 Champions League goals won’t write him down in history, for a left-back, that’s a pretty nice tally. If you look at his career totals, that’s 32 goals and 79 assists which is nothing to shake a stick at.

For me, it’s hard to imagine that Marcelo is on the verge of 30 and has yet shown signs of slowing down. This season he already has collected a goal and three assists across all competitions. I really can’t imagine Marcelo not starting on the left of the back line — seriously, I cannot think of another person I’d put in that slot.

In short, I do believe Marcelo is one of those once-in-a-generation type players. His gift for both the offensive side of the ball, and, of course, his defensive skills is unique. He may have his ups-and-downs, but he’ll go down as a Real Madrid legend a lot like his idol Roberto Carlos. And over the years he’s won his way into being one of my favourite players, because he has become very fun to watch.

With him on the ball, anything can happen.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Managing Madrid Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Real Madrid news from Managing Madrid