Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro has opened up on the struggles he faced at the Bernabeu following the appointment of Zinedine Zidane as manager in January 2016.
After a successful loan spell with Los Blancos, the Brazilian completed a €6m move to the club at the beginning of the 2013/14 campaign. However, he found game-time hard to come by in his early seasons in Madrid, with the arrival of Zidane initially seeing no change in that regard, before a conversation with the Frenchman helped ease Casemiro’s concerns.
By the end of Zidane’s first month, the Copa America winner had made only a handful of appearances for the new coach, triggering a discussion between the pair about the latter’s situation.
In an interview with Jorge Valdano, Casemiro explained (as quoted by AS): “[I asked him], ‘What’s going on? We are in January and I want to have a role. I want to play, boss!’ [He replied], ‘Case, calm down, once you start to play you’ll never stop.'”
The 27-year-old also offered an insight into the mindset he takes into matches, stating: “It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s the 12th or the 90th minute. I’ll go for the ball the same way as I go for a plate of football. I go for the ball as if it’s the last.”
Casemiro has gained a reputation as a destructive force in the heart of Madrid’s midfield, with his defensive qualities and tactical awareness aiding the side in their pursuit of silverware.
Real collected three consecutive Champions League titles between 2016 and 2018, all of which were masterminded by Zidane, who used the South American to brilliant effect during that historic treble.
Of the 39 European matches they played across those seasons, Casemiro featured in 32, highlighting his impressive development since the World Cup champion took charge of the La Liga giants.
For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter!