Alisson: I’m very happy at Roma, Taffarel and Buffon are my idols

Roma’s backup goalkeeper Alisson has spoken to Roma TV about his first season in Italy and how he has settled into life in Italy, following his transfer from Internacional last summer. The full interview follows below.

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An image of Alisson in front of the Temple of Hadrian

I’ve been there before, it’s a really nice place. Every so often I go into the centre with my family to fare una passeggiata [go for a walk], as you say around here.

How are you finding Rome?

I’m really enjoying it, it’s a unique experience in a historic city and at a team like Roma, culturally it’s very similar to Brazil, so me and my family all like it a lot. I like it not just for the football but also for the culture, you can learn a lot from this city, so it’s been a positive experience.

It’s your first experience abroad: how have you adapted?

It was difficult at the start because of the language, until I learned it. Everyone speaks Italian and a little bit of English here, and I knew more English than Italian. But after a few months I got the basics of Italian and I started to communicate better with my team-mates. It’s different on the pitch, it’s more natural, I began to understand European and Italian football in the first week. Adapting on the pitch always happens more quickly than adapting off it, because you have to learn the language, the culture, the way things work. There are a lot of foreigners here, the majority of people are from other countries, and they all have their own cultural influences.

An image of Alisson in front of the Pantheon

It’s a beautiful building, I know it well.

Are you able to walk through the streets of Rome without much trouble?

Rome is a tourist city and when I go into the city centre, I see people from all across the world, so it’s fine – you’re just one of many people, so you can walk around without a problem.

Playing in goal, don’t you feel the weight of responsibility? If you lose then the fans often blame the keeper…

It’s natural in football to blame the goalkeeper when you concede, people are always trying to find someone to blame, but we train hard every day and usually we’re the first ones out onto the pitch and the last ones to leave it. We work hard, because when you play the slightest mistake could be fatal. The main thing on the pitch is to be aware where you’re positioned. I wanted to play in goal ever since I was a child, but I have also played as a defensive midfielder because my brother Muriel is also a goalkeeper and, for those who don’t know, he plays for Internacional in Porto Alegre. One day he told me to play in midfield because playing in goal is tough. I was terrified after just one training session, I was so confused. There were players on all sides, everyone was running after the ball and I didn’t like it. I like being by myself. I missed playing in goal after just one day, so I spoke to the coach and he put me back in goal. That choice has paid off for me.

You’ve become a star…

I wasn’t being cocky when I made that choice, but I do always want to win – and with God’s help, I will.

Who is your football idol?

There are 2 goalkeepers who have always inspired me. The first is Taffarel, one of my generation’s idols. Today I’m lucky enough to be able to work with him, he’s become a friend, and he’s enormously kind. He was an exemplary professional, a great goalkeeper and now he’s an excellent coach for the Seleçao. The other is Buffon, who is a rival now but he has always inspired me, I admire him. I’ve always been struck by how hard he works to be able to do what he does on the pitch. Unfortunately I didn’t play against Juventus, but I’ve been able to watch him from up close and that was special for me, a dream come true.

Are you brave?

Yes.

Are you nostalgic?

Of course, I miss my friends, my family. Rome is culturally very similar to Brazil, the food is completely different though – that’s what the girl who works for me says. She has also helped me feel more at home, I miss my country less, because there are some things that I only do when I’m in Brazil. I miss barbecuing churrasco with my friends. Every so often I find it in the butchers, but it’s not the same as we have in Brazil.

How are you finding Italy?

Good, I’m very happy. I also believe that football unites people, there are no differences between us, neither black nor white. Sometimes football has even stopped wars. We are happy to be footballers and we hope to make a difference off the pitch as well.

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