Former Mumbai City and Pune City player Diego Carlos spoke about his experience in Indian football, shared his thoughts about local culture and remembered times when he played in Russia club Ufa.
"The owner invited players to participate in TV series"
- After Russia you played in India. How did you decide to move to this championship?
- To tell you the truth, it was not my choice. My agent suggested this option, since there were no other clubs that were interested in me. I wanted to play in other countries. It was a shock for me! I didn't think I would ever play in the Indian championship! Not that I am complaining, I was well received. But it's hard to live there. This is especially true when we speak about food: no meat, no beans, everything is eaten with salt and pepper, even fruits. Moreover, it is a very densely populated country. It was hard to adapt because of the heat and polluted air.
- You represented two clubs - Pune City and Mumbai City. Which one did you like more?
- I felt good in both teams. But I liked it more in Mumbai City, as there I had more playing time and freedom under the coach Jorge Costa.
- Famous Indian actor Ranbir Kapoor owns Mumbai City. Has he talked to football players at least once?
- Yes, once he came to the locker room, wished good luck. But that was once, I personally did not communicate with him.
- And the players of the club did not participate in the filming of TV series or films?
- Some were actually invited! But only Indian players, foreigners were not invited.
- Did you manage to travel the country?
- Not really, I was either in a hotel or in a restaurant and rarely went outside just for a walk. People there immediately notice that you are a foreigner, they begin to pester you, ask for money. It's a little dangerous to just walk the streets, plus there are a lot of different infections and viruses.
"William will be a great head coach"
- Diego, what you are doing now? Still playing?
- I have not retired yet, but I haven’t played anywhere for over a year. I hope that some team will appear, as I continue to train, I am in a good shape.
- Your phrase in Russian "this is the Premier League, brother" was very popular a few years ago. Do you remember when you said it?
- Yes, I said that when we almost secured a promotion to the Premier League. I could not speak Russian well, but I often repeated the word "brother", and as a joke I told one journalist this very phrase about the Premier League. Then I told it to all my friends.
- Do you know that William is now one of Zenit's coaches? What do you remember about him?
- Sure! I follow everything that happens on his instagram. I am very happy for William, I hope he will achieve a lot at Zenit. I think this is his calling; he has always been very hardworking and dedicated. William will become an excellent head coach, he definitely has potential, and after all, I played with him for four years.
- Didn't you think of becoming a coach too?
- I would like to play, I do not have any serious injuries, so I would prefer not to end my career right now. I'm ready to play for another two or three years. Coach? Not yet. I don't think this is the right choice now.
"Frimpong joked about being looked at too much on the streets"
- You played with Emmanuel Frimpong at Ufa. He is a very unusual footballer. Do you have any story about him?
- By the way, we did not communicate so closely with him. But I remember that the guy was very funny, he helped us, shared his experience. He even tried to learn Russian, knew some phrases. He always said that he was looked at too much on the streets, because he was black. He joked that people in Russia had never seen such guys before.
- Another former teammate Zinchenko called you fat Neymar. How did this nickname appear?
- I once came to the pre season training with excess weight. Zinchenko then asked Marcinho what he could call me in Portuguese, and this is how the nickname fat Neymar appeared.
- What do you remember about the general director of Ufa Shamil Gazizov?
- He helped me a lot. He does everything to make Ufa flourish. I follow the Russian championship, I know that Gazizov worked for Spartak, and now he has returned to the club again. He is an excellent leader and quite strict, he always demanded full commitment from us, and was upset if we did not win. By the way, I would be glad to play for Ufa again.
- Did Gazizov personally help you somehow?
- Yes, he is very responsible. For example, he offered to help with obtaining a Russian passport. It is a pity that it did not work out then, the process was not started, since I left Russia.
- You left Ufa because the club could not pay a high salary?
- No, I didn’t have much playing time in last year of my contract. And the coach did not count on me for the new season.
“I went on tests to Rubin, and there were rumors about Spartak’s interest”
- Considering how well Ufa sells its players to top clubs, I can't help but ask – were any Russian or foreign teams interested in you?
- There were rumors that Spartak was interested. But there were no official offers. And when I played for Nizhny Novgorod, I went to tests to Rubin.
- Which Ufa coach has contributed more to your progress?
- It's simple: I played a lot and performed at a good level when Kolyvanov headed the team. He gave me the opportunity to show everything that I am capable of. I had a great season scoring goals. Then, with Goncharenko, I lost my place in the squad. He trusted other footballers.
- What did you like the most in Russia?
- I love Russian food. There is nothing to complain about, you have it all: there is a lot of meat; you can buy anything in supermarkets. Most of all I liked pancakes with condensed milk!
- The best place in Russia?
- I often traveled to cities on vacation. And most of all I liked walking around St. Petersburg. Moscow is also a good city, but there are such traffic jams that you can't see it all in a couple of days.
- Did you think about looking for a club in Russia, since you liked everything?
- Why not? I would be glad to return, I was happy at Ufa, I got used to life in the country. If there is an offer, I will definitely come. For now I just expect that there will be a team that will invite me.