Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 7 August 2020

Rodrygo on being called up for Brazil and why he doesn't want to be compared to Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid forward, 18, has been training alongside likes of Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus in Abu Dhabi ahead of Middle East double-header

Brazilian wonderkid Rodrygo says he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as he stands on the cusp of winning his first cap.

The Real Madrid forward received his first call-up for the five-time World Cup winners for their upcoming double-header against Argentina, to be played in Saudi Arabia on November 15, and South Korea four days later in Abu Dhabi.

It has been something of a meteoric rise for the teenager over the past few weeks. After being named in Tite's squad on October 27, the 18-year-old became the second youngest player to score a Champions League treble with a "perfect hat-trick" – left foot, right foot, header – in Real Madrid's 6-0 rout of Galatasaray last Wednesday.

His club manager, Zinedine Zidane, was full of praise following that impressive performance at the Bernabeu, describing Rodrygo as an "intelligent" player "with a bit of everything".

While most 18-year-old's would get carried away with such lofty praise, Rodrygo said that he remains grounded and focussed on the job ahead.

“I have prepared myself on the pitch by practicing every day, which I am sure every other player has done as well but I’ve also prepared myself off the pitch," said Rodrygo, who took part in training with the rest of the Brazil squad at Al Wahda's Al Nahyan Stadium Stadium.

"I don’t let things go to my head or let my mind be run by my emotions – my father helped me a lot with this. He was a player and I could see what happened to his career, so it helped me to use his experience to use in my career.”

Inevitable comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid's record goalscorer who left the club after nine trophy-laden years in 2018 to join Juventus, have followed Rodrygo after his Champions League heroics.

The former Santos player said he had no desire to be compared with the Portuguese great, saying he only wants to focus on being the best player he can be.

“It’s really hard to be Cristiano Ronaldo. I would have loved to have played with him, but I do not want to carry this pressure with me," he said.

"I want to be a great player for Real Madrid and Brazil one day, but I am still developing, and I know I need to improve and grow in my career.

“I’m feeling really happy with life at the moment. It’s every Brazilian’s dream to wear this shirt and now I am here with these players that I have watched since I was a child. I’m really happy.”

Tickets for the match against South Korea at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium on November 19 are available on www.ticketmaster.ae starting from Dh150.

Updated: November 13, 2019 03:14 PM

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