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Danilo: “It’s the moment”

Interview

March 27, 2019

Danilo: “It’s the moment”

Since he arrived in Nice in the summer of 2018, he has rarely spoken in public. So often held back by physical issues at the start of the season, Danilo Barbosa (23 years old) preferred to get back to fitness before speaking. The midfielder who started his career at Vasco de Gama, before playing for Braga, Valencia, Benfica and Standard, has showed real potential at every opportunity. Before the final sprint of the season, the captain of the Brazilian Olympic team accepted to speak about his first season with Les Aiglons. He could have done without a translator in order to understand the questions, but for his answers, he needed some support in order to find the right words. He was therefore accompanied by Alexandre Gameiro, a young Portuguese speaking forward from the academy, as he calmly took a seat in Le Gym’s club house. At home.

Danilo, it’s been 10 months since you arrived, how do you feel? 

Very good. On a sporting level, I have had some difficult times, but the environment has always made me feel good. My teammates, the people at the club, the supporters, the people of the city: everyone has made me feel at home straight away. Now that things are better, my form is getting better physically, technically and tactically. I am now reaching my level. There are nine matches to go, it’s the moment to bring something to the team. I am working and I feel good. 

“The difficult times” that you mentioned were due to injuries... 

At the start, I couldn’t be “normal” because of my injury. After two matches, it happened and I had a lot of time without playing. So I had to re-find that rhythm and it took me some time to get there. When I started to feel better, I got injured again... Everything was back to the beginning again. Honestly, when that happens, it’s tough. You stay at home, you are thinking, you come back, you see that there is a beautiful stadium, a great crowd, and you can go there, you can’t help the team. It’s part of the life of a player, but it’s not pleasant. Now, I feel better, ready to play. I hope that all of that will remain behind me. 

How would you analyse the team’s current situation?

There are more positives than negatives. The squad is young. We struggled at the start, we turned that around: we needed time to learn to get to know each other and to understand what the coach wanted to put in place. By following his advice, we have all progressed. 

"We can all do better”

Was there any worrying at the beginning?

No. It’s normal to go through periods like that in team sports. It was always sure that it was going to improve, we just needed to learn to play for one and other. We can all do better, but we have seen that with time, we are on the right track. 

Where can that track lead?

You mustn’t think about that. We just need to focus on winning matches. Every match. Then we can see what happens. 

Le Gym were capable of beating Lyon and losing to Angers in just one week, is that representative of the first two thirds of the season?

That’s just football. You can’t necessarily explain what makes the difference, you can only work hard to give yourself every chance of doing so.

“I feel a bit like one of the older ones”

Is French football different from the other countries that you have experienced in your career?

Here, football is more intense, more physical. There is a lot of contact, intensity, agression in the good sense of the word. In the other leagues I have played in, the games were more focussed on possession. Here, it’s a mix of agression and keeping the ball.

This “agression” has allowed several Brazilians to make their mark in France...

I know that because I have always followed the French league, especially when Juninho, Fred, etc. were here. There was a lot of talent. I am Brazilian, I grew up with this kind of image. 

You started very young as a pro. Do you ever feel like one of the older ones in the group?

(Laughs) I get that feeling at times. I have been a pro for a couple of seasons, I have played in the Champions League, I have played in numerous grounds, the Camp Nou, several countries... Of course, there are others who have done a lot more, but I admit that in this squad, I feel a bit like one of the older ones. 

Danilo’s quick fire questions 

An ambition? 

The first is to go and beat Dijon. Especially when you think back to our first game against them (0-4). Then, I want to help to club to get results and achieve its objectives.  

A match? 

Nîmes at home, when we won 2-0. That was the moment when I began to feel good. But I can do better. 

A place in Nice? 

The Promenade des Anglais! I often walk there with my wife and my son. In general, I am in Nice a lot, it’s a city that moves, a lively city. In my region back in Brazil, it is really very hot, it’s difficult to play. Here, it’s different and it’s perfect.  

A position? 

I like to play at number 6. At the moment, I  am often playing a bit higher up the pitch, the coach asks me to push forward and to break the lines. It requires more work but I am here for the team.

A dream?

La Selecao. I have played at every youth level internationally, I just need to break into the senior squad. 

A message to be shared?

I want to thank everyone, the club, the staff and the fans. I feel good here, and that’s thanks to them. Even in the difficult times, they never gave up.