Cassio: ‘I’m really enjoying my life after football’
After playing with one of Brazil’s most famous clubs, Cassio made the move to Adelaide United in the A-League. He ended his career as a two-time Club Champion and remains forever a Reds favourite. The surging left back went One on One with Jack Hudson to talk about football and life since leaving the game.
JH: What was your life like growing up in Brazil?
C: That was probably my best times in football to be honest – when you’re a kid and you just play for fun, you’re not expecting anything to happen.
I was pretty lucky to play with friends, we played street football, bare foot, this sort of stuff, beach football – we all loved it back home.
JH: You don’t see too much of that in Australia, so when you came across how different did you find the culture with football?
C: It was a bit of a shock at the beginning, especially with the grassroots and the younger kids.
You don’t see anyone play outside, you rarely see it.
They usually play just in club situations, you have to pay to play.
For me, that was very strange to be honest when you have to pay to play, when you have a lot of parks around Australia, not just Adelaide, but all over the country.
Why don’t you get a few friends and go and kick around, that’s how you learn the most when you’re a kid.
When you get older, of course you have to go into some structure and coaching, but when you’re very little, you need to do that.
I found it really strange when I came, but now I’ve been here for 12 years, so you get involved and you start to understand a bit more about the culture.
JH: What was playing club football in Brazil like, and your eventual move to Major League Soccer in America?
C: I would say it was different between Brazilian football and American football, I would put America and Australia at a very similar league level.
The MLS and A-League are very similar, but I’d have the MLS just above just because they have a lot more foreigners, which can help the competition a lot more.
They can sign whoever they want, they can sign big players from Argentina, Brazil, everywhere around the world.
That was a big difference between those two.
But, I personally liked the MLS even though I only stayed for six months.
JH: You then moved across to Adelaide United. What did you know about Australia before you came across, and what drew you to the Reds?
C: I knew nothing, the only thing I knew was Romario, and Romario was playing here.
That was exactly the time they contacted me.
I had another offer to go to Europe at the time, but it wasn’t the greatest, but then I thought about the experience to come over to Australia…I always heard it was a great country.
They started to ask questions to Romario and one of his best mates, they said all great things about Adelaide, the country, the lifestyle.
In terms of the club, I had some good feedback as well, and that’s how I decided to take a risk and I don’t regret it one bit.
JH: How many sacrifices do you have to make moving from country to country?
C: My first move I was 21, and then I moved interstate which was a big move for me, because I was 21 and then you’re suddenly playing for the biggest club in Brazil (Flamengo).
When I first moved to Mexico, that’s when I first thought, yep, this is serious.
If you want to move forward in football, it’s very serious.
You enjoy what you do, and suddenly when those things happen you start taking it seriously.
I thought that’s what I want in my life.
I moved to a lot of countries to play, people a lot of a big deal out of it, but they don’t understand how good it is for your life afterwards.
For example now, I’m four years retired, and all those experiences, I don’t regret going to any country I moved to.
All the experiences I gave to my family, my kids and my wife and the people that came to visit.
A lot of people just complain for nothing, the more chances you have, you have to take it the best way you can.