Far away from his home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian winger Marcelinho making Delhi Dynamos roar in ISL 2016
Heroes (male of females) are born in the most unlikely of circumstances and scenarios. On a cold evening in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, where a blanket of smog covered the entire arena, Marcelo Leite Pereira, a Brazilian football player, far away from his home, breathed a fresh lease of air into the city’s footballing life when he put the Delhi Dynamos 2-0 ahead in a crucial Indian Super League (ISL) encounter against Kerala Blasters.
Delhi Dynamos, pretty much like its following in the national capital, is yet to be counted among the competition’s elite, unlike a Chennayin and Atletico de Kolkata. In the past two seasons, they might have blown hot and cold but the 2016 campaign looks different and Marcelino, in all likelihood, could be the difference. The winger-forward from Rio de Janeiro has been a dynamite in attack for a Delhi Dynamos side that, on a lot of occasions, has looked bereft of ideas in the final third.
Marcelinho, as he is popularly known, is currently the joint-leading goalscorer in the Hero ISL with 5 strikes to his name from eight matches. What makes his achievment even more staggering is the fact that he has scored almost 42% percent of his team’s total goal tally. His contribution can be symbolised by the fact that Delhi Dynamos’ goal difference (+5) is the number of goals Marcelino has netted during ISL 2016.
While he might be lighting up proceedings in India, it has not been all rosy over the years for Marcelino, who has played for youth teams in Brazil and Spain along with senior sides in Greece, Italy and UAE. Growing up in Brazil, millions of youngsters dream of becoming a Pele, Garrincha, Socrates, Zico, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho or Kaka. However, it does not always pan out that way as the abovementioned lot belongs to the creme de la creme of world football.
Speaking to Sportskeeda, Marcelinho revealed how he trained alongside the likes of Sergio Aguero and Fernando Torres at Atletico Madrid B but found it tough to adjust due to loneliness. “I did not play in Brazil for a really long time as a young players. When I was around 10 or so, I went to train and make my career in Spain and played for Atletico Madrid B and Getafe B. The time in Madrid was both good and not good.
It was good because I was playing in one of the biggest clubs in the world but it was bad because for the first time, I was away from my family and adjustment became a big issue. I did not have my parents there and also, I think things could have been better if I would have received a three-four year contract. Unfortunately, it was only one-year contract and I had to return to Brazil,” he said.
His real break came when a scout from Greece came to find a winger and spotted young Marcelinho, who is really thankful to Greek football for what it has done for him. “I really enjoyed my team in Greece, especially at Skoda Xanthi. Greece is a lot like home for me,” he says. He heard about the ISL from fellow Brazilian Zico and a conversation between Delhi Dynamos President Prashant Agarwal and Marcelinho’s manager ended up being the latter’s ticket to India.
Soft-spoken off the pitch, Marcelinho is a dynamite on it and has been the key assassin for Gianluca Zambrotta's men in ISL 2016. Marcelinho, on his part, believes that having Zambrotta as his manager is nothing but great for the club. “He is an Italian coach with Italian mentality. He understands the human side of players as well along with tactics, which is obviously a great thing for everyone. Also, he makes it easy for everyone to come together. I think we will do good things this season,” he says.
Results of Delhi Dynamos’ next two matches, against Chennayin and Atletico de Kolkata at home, could end up defining their season and title credentials. Marcelinho is going to be crucial to Zambrotta’s cause in those two matches as scoring against Chennayin and Atletico de Kolkata could be a big challenge. Delhi Dynamos got their first home win of the season against Kerala Blasters but they would need to play out of their skins to get another two and Marcelinho will have a big role to play in the same.