Our Brazilian defender is getting to know our country and his new club.
He has already travelled from Rio to Moscow and visited Otkritie Arena.
Ayrton was in for a packed schedule during his stadium visit.
He was handed the number 6 shirt by Sergei Rodionov and Oleg Kononov, been to the home side’s dressing room, took to the pitch and even saw snow up close for the time in his life!
Naturally, he also found out a lot about Spartak’s history during his guided tour around Hall of Fame.
And then he answered our press office’s questions.
— I’m impressed, — said Ayrton — I haven’t expected such a warm welcome. It’s a very emotional moment.
— What did you like best at the stadium?
— Well, pretty much everything! The museum is a fascinating place. I’ve discovered a lot of Brazilian players featured for Spartak, and they were popular with the supporters. I’d be happy to leave my own mark here. One of the exhibits that stuck in memory is a shirt a Spartak player wore during Garrincha’s final game (the shirt belonged to Evgeniy Lovchev, while the game itself took place on December 18, 1973 - footnote)
— That game took place at the legendary Maracana stadium — Fluminense’s home ground. Any parallels we can draw here?
— I understand Spartak’s stadium is a new one, but it’s still marvellous. It hosted World Cup games too, I’m aware of that. The pitch is covered for the winter break right now, but the stadium still looks beautiful and gigantic.
— How much did you know about the Club before visiting the museum?
— I knew it’s the biggest club in Russia, the most popular and with the most honours. Now I had the chance to see it with my own eyes. I’ve re-watched the video where there’s a pitch invasion after the title was sealed. It was certainly memorable! By the way, I accepted the offer to join Spartak right away, without giving it a second thought.
— Precisely because it’s a great Russian club; and it’s a well-known fact in Brazil. I’m hoping to make an impact as soon as possible, to showcase my qualities.
— Not afraid of the cold weather too?
— It’s something I’ll need to get used to, understandably so. It’s the first time I’ve touched snow in my life today! But I don’t think cold weather will be much of a problem. The summers here can be hot too, so it evens out.
—You are just 21 years of age, you have only one full season for Fluminense under your belt. Did people try to talk you out of a move away? Perhaps saying it’s not the time to leave for a place so far away from home?
— I’m not the first one to leave Brazil for Europe at a young age and I won’t be the last. And even though I’m not vastly experienced, I still have something to build on. I have made large strides last season, I know that. And before this season I went on loan a couple of times: this includes a spell at Londrina, where I played with Celsinho. He represented Lokomotiv for a while and have told me a lot about Russia. Our wives are good friends, they too have talked a lot about moving. Other players who left for Europe also shared their thoughts with me.
— Your family backed your choice?
— Of course! I come from a Brazilian favela, from Rio Grande Do Norte. Not everyone there gets a chance to make something of his life. So my relatives didn’t even believe at first this was really happening for me! That I’m being invited to the biggest Russian club. Everyone here is very happy for me.
— Will your wife move to Moscow with you?
— We are expecting a baby. But she’ll move to Moscow soon enough. I’ll also invite my parents, sisters. I have a big family!
— Did you have a chance to talk to any Spartak players yet?
— Pedro Rocha texted me a couple of days ago. Wished me luck. It’s great there are Brazilian players in the team, they’ll help me settle in quicker.
— How do you like to spend your free time? Do you know already what you want to see in Moscow?
— I’m something of a couch potato. And this is probably not a good time to be thinking about leisure spots. I need to settle in quickly and help Spartak win trophies this season already.
— You have colourful tattoos on your neck: a kiss on one side and a lightning on the other. What do they stand for?
— The kiss is devoted to my mom. Moms do like to kiss their sons after all!
— And the lightning symbolises your top speed on the pitch?
— That’s a superhero mark: Flash! I’ve liked him since my early days. But I’m not that quick of course!
— A lot of people name speed as your main competitive edge though.
— I’m a good sprinter, it’s true. I’m a fullback, but I do like to get forward. I feel I still have something to learn defensively-wise, because the modern game requires balance, the ability to defend and attack well in equal measures. I want to be as effective as possible.
— Did you discuss your role on the pitch with the head coach?
— We did, but in broad strokes only. I understand fine well that sticking to the coach’s instructions is very important. Otherwise I don’t have a future in the team and I won’t develop as a player.
— You come from Fluminense’s academy — like Marcelo did and he is one of the best left-backs in the world. Would you say he is a role model for you?
— Marcelo is not only Fluminense’s icon, he is an icon for the entire country. Everyone dreams of having the career he’s had. I hope my move to Spartak will be a a big step forward.
— You are often being compared to Pepe. But not as a player, more because you look like him.
— Russian supporters aren’t the first ones to notice that. I’ve received a lot of funny pictures down the years, where I’m portrayed as his son, or a younger brother. Well, what can I say… Pepe is a good defender, but I need to concentrate on myself, my own career. That’s why I joined Spartak!