In an exclusive interview, former Benfica player Isaias spoke about what it would take for someone to follow in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s footsteps.
Isaias Marques Soares left his name in the history of football as he became the first Brazilian to play in the Premiership. In 1995, Coventry City snatched up Isaias from Benfica to prevent the team from being relegated.
However, English football in the ’90s was quite different from what it is today. The creative midfielder struggled to fit in a team that played a very direct and strict style of football. In fact, Isaias described the Premiership’s football as ‘table tennis’, since the ball went back and forth from the goalkeepers.
Despite his clear talent, Isaias left the English top-flight after an altercation with manager Gordon Strachan, but not before completing 12 appearances and two goals for Coventry.
Nevertheless, it was at Benfica that Isaias displayed his true class. With 71 goals in 178 appearances, the Brazilian earned the nickname of ‘The Wild Prophet’ in Portugal. Known for his terrific right-foot and impressive physique, Isaias has always been a hard-worker. Despite his tremendous success, the former player remains humble and knows his achievements came from the hours he spent working on and off the pitch.
In fact, the Brazilian midfielder reminded us of Cristiano Ronaldo when he told us he only lived for football. Isaias disclosed that in his footballing days, he would secretly practice away from the club’s facilities throughout the night. Since Cristiano was a teenager when Isaias played in Portugal, perhaps he drew some inspiration from Benfica’s ‘Prophet’.
“I worked at the club and outside of it as well. I couldn’t expose myself just anywhere because I represented Benfica, but I was aware that I needed my physical abilities to succeed. So I participated in a lot of underground races to get on the pitch and build my history.”
Isaias on players who make a difference
The former Brazilian midfielder spoke about how important some players were for their clubs. Therefore, he naturally ended up mentioning two of the best possible examples.
“There are players all around, but not a lot of them make a difference. There’s Cristiano, who has done a lot for Portuguese football, a lot for World football. A brilliant player, but he’s entering the stage of decay. There’s also Messi, Barcelona needs him right now but he’s also failing to solve their problems.”
Nevertheless, Isaias believes that players like Ronaldo and Messi are hard to come by. In fact, the Brazilian said that although good players will always be there, it’ll be hard for anyone to match their greatness.
“I’m sure others will be born. Sometimes football is so contagious that the baby is in the mother’s uterus and he’s already kicking. We have a few talented players here in Brazil but for anyone to reach that level, I think it’ll be very hard.
“If today’s football was like in Pele and Zico’s time I would give an opinion [on which player could be the next Ronaldo or Messi]. Nowadays football is very physical, very demanding. The amount of pressure and expectations on one single footballer is very big. It’s hard to think of anyone that could succeed as much as they have.”