Story By: Juan Mayes, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
Former Juventus midfielder Felipe Melo has revealed the Brazil squad “would take turns” kicking Lionel Messi during matches between the arch-rivals.
Former Brazil midfielder Melo, 36, made the comments in an interview with Argentine newspaper ‘Clarin’ where he hailed Messi, 32, as “the best in history”, compared European leagues and spoke about his difficult childhood after growing up in one of Brazil’s poorest slums.
When speaking about Messi, Melo hailed him as “the best in history” adding “I cannot say anything about Pele because I did not watch him play.
“And Maradona, I only have the memory of the 1990 World Cup when they (Argentina) beat Brazil with Caniggia’s goal.
“I saw Messi play and he is incredible. More than Cristiano Ronaldo because Cristiano can score five goals but Messi can score the same five goals and help his teammates score goals so he is more complete. Messi is a unique player.”
He went on to reveal “When we played against him in the Brazil team we’d say ‘we each have to kick him at least once, we have to take turns’.
“If not it is difficult, there is no defending a player like that. I am not saying kick him to injure him but a tactical foul, to cut his rhythm and bother him.”
The midfielder, who has played for clubs such as Inter Milan, Galatasaray and Mallorca, compared European leagues saying: “Referees bust your balls everywhere, here (Brazil) or in Europe but they are different.
“In England, players kick you, the fans yell “Oooooh” and the referee does not blow for anything. If you do that same kick in Spain you get a direct red card. There are refs that let you continue the play and others who send you off.
“That is why I love the Libertadores (Cup). There are times that if you get a Brazilian referee, you may get a red card, where an Argentine referee does not even call a foul.”
Melo also spoke about growing up in one of the poorest slums, or favelas, in Brazil saying: “I dreamed of playing football since I was young and if I hadn’t made it, I don’t know what would have happened to me. It was football or football.
“Sometimes I would go train and when I returned I would find one of my friends had been shot. Ninety-five percent of the friends from the favela don’t exist anymore, they are dead.
“I remember the drug bosses in the favela would tell me ‘you have a future, I don’t want to see you around here anymore or I will shoot you in the head’. I preferred to work instead of making easy money.”
Melo signed for Palmeiras in a free transfer deal with Inter Milan in 2017 after playing in some of the world’s biggest leagues such as La Liga and Serie A.
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