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Name Paulinho
Gender Male
Ethnic Brazilian
Job Brazilian Footballer

Affiliation

Org Brazil National Team
Club as Player Barcelona
  Guangzhou Evergrande
  Tottenham Hotspur
Club as Coach Sporting Kansas City

2017 03 25 Retrieve

[Paulinho speaks after his memorable World Cup qualifying performance] Everybody said that would end any hope of returning, but I’d stopped even dreaming about the Seleção. My last six months at Tottenham was lost time, and I was just happy to have the opportunity to play football again

2017 08 19 Retrieve

[Paulinho speaks at his official presentation at the Camp Nou upon joining Barcelona from Guangzhou Evergrande] I’m certain I can fit in at Barça and prove that all the effort they made to get me here was worth it. I know Barça have their own style and DNA but I think I can play here. I will play where I need to and see what opportunities I have. My intention is to help the team to win trophies. Barça are Barça and I don’t think you can say no to them. To play here is to realise a dream

2017 12 23 Retrieve

[Paulinho talks about silencing any of his critics] I’ve heard it said that I’m silencing the critics so many times but it’s not that: I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. I don’t play for the critics, I play for my team-mates. For three, four years I haven’t listened to anything. People always talk and always will. ‘He’s good now because he’s at Barça’, ‘He was only good then because he was in China’, blah, blah, blah. When I was at Bragantino and I went to Corinthians it was the same; it was the same at Tottenham and in China. I’ve had that since the beginning

2019 11 15 Retrieve

[The story of Paulinho, Arsenal’s mystery Brazilian] I was always known by my nickname ‘Paulinho’ in my Arsenal days. After I left, my agent thought that it was too diminutive and wanted to change it. Nagamura is my last name, so I stuck with it. So, not many people recognise me as the Paulinho from Arsenal; you have to dig deep to find who that guy was

Those were three very important years of my career. Even though I didn’t get many opportunities to play with the first team at Arsenal, that time prepared me for the career I had ahead

[He, along with his team-mate Juan, were signed in a double deal and moved to England in the summer of 2001 to join up with Arsenal’s Under-19s] It was just a dream come true for us. It was a big change in culture for us, so I was glad Juan was there and we had each other. Edu was also there at the time and we were always with him whenever he was free. He would take us to his home and have his wife make lunch and dinner for us because he knew what type of life we had. It’s tough for young South Americans living in a different country and not having their parents or family with them. He did a great job of really looking after us in London and we really appreciated that because he made our lives much better. I’m very happy to see him [Edu] back at Arsenal now. I’ve always followed his career. I’ve lost contact with him a little bit, but I’m always cheering for him to have a successful time wherever he goes.

[Nagamura played no part in either success, but the experience of working so closely with the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires during that period still lives long in his memory] I still can’t describe what it was like. I had been watching players like Henry, Bergkamp and Pires on TV back in Brazil saying ‘Oh my God, look at those players’ and then in a matter of months, I was right there training with them, competing with them and learning from them as well.

I’m just so fortunate to have had that experience because that group was unbelievable. I spent most of my time with the Under-19s and the reserves, but the times that I trained with the first-team it was like ‘What the heck – look at those guys!’. Just watching Bergkamp control the ball, his unbelievable technique… The explosion of Henry, the intelligence of Pires and the leadership from Vieira, Seaman, Adams…. Those are just things you can’t forget!

Bergkamp was by far the best. He was a genius. It’s one thing when you watch a guy on the TV, but it’s another thing when you watch him on a daily basis and see him do things that just take your breath away.

The things he used to do were so complicated for every other player, but for him it was all so simple. The technique, the control, the intelligence, the vision, the awareness of where he was on the field. He was the complete package that nowadays is so hard to find

That group was so special,” he points out. “It was just so hard to break though. There were so many talented players in the youth system at the time who never made it. We all had to go somewhere else because the standard was so high. We had Steven Sidwell, David Bentley, Graham Barrett, Juan, Jermaine Pennant. There was a lot of good young players there, but you had to be really, really special to make it to that team

[An opportunity then arose with LA Galaxy in MLS. He made the move in March 2005 and other than a brief stint with Tigres in Mexico in 2010, he has remained in America ever since] I knew that my time at Arsenal was done,” he confesses. “Those three years were amazing. I have nothing negative to say about that club. They were so good with me, but I just decided to try a different route. I had different offers when I left, but the one in the States in MLS was different. I’m the type of guy that likes a challenge and I’m really glad I took that challenge. It worked out well for me.

[He would go on to add another MLS Cup success to his collection a year later as well as two more Lamar Hunt US Open Cups] At Sporting, I found a home. The club is a very good club, well structured. It has a great stadium and a great fanbase. I found myself here. It was a win-win for both myself and the club and we were able to have a very good team and won three championships in five years. In all, I played 12 years here in MLS. I won five championships with two different clubs, so I believe it was a successful career and I go back to what I said earlier, it was mainly because of those three years in Arsenal. I had so many adversities to overcome in London that definitely made me a better person and a better player

2019 12 12 Retrieve

[Incidentally, his unwavering form has its roots in some sage advice he received from fellow Brazilian Dani Alves] I live by something that Dani Alves once told me, when I was going through a difficult time in my life. He said, ‘We are just kids playing in the rain, man. If it goes wrong, so what? Is it the end of the world? No, man. We’ll just go find somewhere else to play.

I’ve played football my entire life, all over the world, and the one thing I’ve learned is that the important thing is to enjoy your work. You have to go to sleep at night staring at the wall, thinking, ‘Damn, I can’t wait for it to be morning so I can have the ball at my feet again!’. You can only play your best football in these conditions

[While form and fortune have played their part in the Brazlian’s goalscoring exploits, the man himself stressed his side’s tactics have been key] Actually, I think it’s mainly due to the difference in the formation of our selection this season. In past seasons, we may have played more defenders, but no matter what combination we used this season, we had three midfielders in most games, so in this system I can have more degrees of freedom to go forward. I think this year’s tactics have helped me to score more goals

[Confidence has also inevitably played its part with Paulinho even adopting the catch cry of a previous Guangzhou captain] The phrase ‘have confidence’ is a mantra of the club leader in the past. Before most matches, he would come to our dressing room to cheer. The town arm also shouted the words ‘have confidence’ so this is where it came from. After winning the first championship in the Chinese League in 15 years, I had a celebration party in Beijing at that time. I was very excited and shouted this sentence to everyone. Slowly, this sentence became well known by many fans and friends, and it has become a very iconic personal mantra

[But by 2018 Paulinho signed by Barcelona after being approached by Lionel Messi himself and he also secured his spot at the 2018 World Cup] People said that my career was over when I went to Guangzhou Evergrande. I was not dreaming about playing in another World Cup. I definitely was not dreaming of playing for Barcelona. My goal was simply to play good football, every day. But seriously, if you think my transfer from Guangzhou to Barcelona is crazy, then you don’t know my whole story. That was just Chapter 10. My whole story is way more unreal