Vincente Del Bosque was in awe of Roberto Carlos during his tenure in charge of Real Madrid from 1999-2003. The coach admitted as much in a new lengthy interview with The Athletic as part of the media outlet’s growing coverage of Real Madrid and Barcelona. In an anecdote recounting the structure and requirements of the team, Del Bosque provided an example of Roberto Carlos’ incredible physical abilities:
“We had a bit of a problem because we had two similar midfielders, who were Zizou and Raul,” Del Bosque recounted. “We always played with one striker in front of them, either Morientes or Ronaldo. We had to play with Raul and Zidane, so the organization of the game was covered by Roberto Carlos, who played as if he was two players.”
The coach went on to explain how Roberto Carlos played an incredible game even after traveling from South America with no sleep: “One time, Roberto Carlos had just come from a national team match with Brazil in… I don’t know where. He had taken the plane, he hadn’t slept at all, and he arrived in the morning. In the afternoon, he played. He was in incredible physical condition.”
Much was made of Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to play Vinicius Junior against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey last season. Vinicius played after less than 24 hours rest from a trip to South America. It seems this was not the first time an elite athlete from Brazil has been asked to play for Madrid despite the toll of travel and lack of sleep.