Pepe, a defender from Brazil serving the other Seleçao

A very great coach, Portuguese, said this of Pepe: “The fact that he’s not even Portuguese, I think that should put more pressure on him to behave in a certain way, which he didn’t.”, attacks José Mourinho, in 2014, in a column for Yahoo, the day after a rout of his country against Germany (4-0). In Salvador, Portugal sank for its entry into the Brazilian World Cup. For the “Special One”, Pepe is the obvious culprit, unable to control his emotions, he, this Brazilian by birth, expelled for a gesture of humor in the first half.

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Eight years later, José Mourinho refrains from criticizing his former protege at Real Madrid, to whom, in the end, he had never forgiven his support for the slingers to bring about his downfall, in May 2013. Before the quarter-final against Morocco, Saturday, December 10, at the Al-Thumama stadium in Doha, no one sees Pepe as a paper Portuguese. At almost 40 years old, Kepler Laveran Lima Ferreira has even become the soul of the other Seleçao. Against Switzerland in the previous round, he again set an example with this furious whim to score the second goal (6-1), making him the oldest scorer in a World Cup knockout match.

In Qatar, Pepe is a man and a player on a mission. And it has been going on since his first selection, on November 21, 2007 against Finland, in Porto, his adopted city. When this hypersensitive sings at the top of his lungs To Portuguese, his face expresses his sole purpose: to make his country of hearts shine, which – he repeats it constantly – has given him everything.

Founding story

Considered one of the best defenders of his generation, Pepe has long had a – justified – reputation as a violent player, capable, in 2017, of confusing the ball with a Getafe striker. Even as he approaches his forties, he still happens to trigger a general fight, especially when his FC Porto faces the Lisbon rival of Sporting. The child of Maceio (northeast of Brazil) has become a Portuguese like the others, for whom the rivalry between the three big clubs of the country (Porto, Sporting, Benfica) often turns unreasonable.

Off the field, however, the man proves to be of a rare kindness. Affable, he never hesitates to tell his story, that of an 18-year-old boy who landed with the equivalent of five euros in his pocket at Lisbon airport and the promise of a trial at the Maritimo Funchal club, on Madeira Island. In 2021, he tells a founding anecdote in an interview with the weekly Express.

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