Edinson Cavani: “Maybe I don’t quite fit into modern football in terms of attitudes” | Uruguay

eDenson Cavani is miles away. He played in five countries, at some of the biggest clubs in the major leagues, alongside the biggest stars; He is about to act Uruguay in his tenth international tournament; He’s made 785 appearances, scored 434 goals and won 26 trophies, but he can’t help but be drawn elsewhere entirely. Back where I started, far from the training center where he now sits, a necessary escape. “Name all those places,” he says, “and I said, ‘No, leave me in Salto.’” “Under the tree, in the shade, where the breeze blows, without the sounds of cars.”

Cavani speaks of the game as a “passion” he inherited from his father, the striker who played against Luis Suarez’s father in Salto where the two Uruguayan strikers were born three weeks apart. It discusses dedication, the competitiveness that runs through it, and the art of a striker, broken down in detail and summed up in the line: “Football is time and space”. There is wonder at some of the things he did but he still can’t explain it and describes a month in world Cup Delight’ where you feel completely Football related, where you are He lives every second “.

However, there is something unusual about it. Something, it soon becomes clear he speaks in a gentle, pensive voice, doesn’t exactly fit football – not the way he thinks the game has become. At times, there is something almost philosophical, mystical about him, a lingering feeling that the world he inhabits is not really his, so much he would gladly leave behind.

“There are things I see and feel in football – how can I say that? – I absolutely refuse.” Asked if he feels different, he pauses to think, which he often does, and calmly replies: “Maybe not typical.

These days, success tends to be associated with fame, high life, and luxury. And honestly, I have my good life too, the opportunities that football offers. But my way of life is very simple. Why do I love nature so much? I may never find the answer, but something inside is taking me out there, away from this world, this routine, this very overwhelming dynamic. The only thing football does not allow me to do is to be where I like most often, in the countryside.

Cavani fondly remembers matches, and goals scored – it takes only 10 minutes to describe his first in Europe, paper and piece in hand – but also visits to Monet’s house northwest of Paris, the pheasants in the countryside there, the pine trees outside Naples, the lake near his home At Knutsford, the daily drive to Carrington through green fields, a moment of calm to enjoy each morning. “I like everything wild. Just walk and drink.” Companion, see green, water. This makes me happy. I don’t know if there is a need, but it’s a way of life, good for you.”

A mural of Edinson Cavani in his hometown of Salto.
A mural of Edinson Cavani in his hometown of Salto, to which the striker still feels a strong connection. Photo: Raul Martinez/EPA

Some kind of therapy, perhaps – and that goes deeper. “There were moments when I needed professional help,” says the 35-year-old. “I have professional friends, and we’re on a more spiritual path than psychological. Just talking supports you. I talk to the psychiatrist about things that aren’t football. We all stick to football and have little time to focus outside. Trauma often starts with football but the psychiatrist helps you out.” Seeing that it doesn’t come from football alone; it can be your upbringing, your parents, your environment, the way you think you are because from a very young age you thought that was the only way to live, trying to be a footballer, a superhero.

“There’s a lot you learn over time in football. It’s been 20 years since you left home, trying to beat it. You think and you come to conclusions. It doesn’t mean that what I’m saying is the truth and I don’t share it with the assumption that truly. But it is Mine way of facing life. If there was a little book “This is happiness”, we would all go out and buy it and live that way, the same way.

This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

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This is a World Cup like no other. For the past 12 years, the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedication Qatar: Beyond football The homepage for those who want to delve deeper into issues off the field.

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For Cavani, happiness is raising livestock, working the land, hunting, walking, and getting lost. Not that he might have been a vet if he hadn’t been a footballer; He plans to be one when he stops playing, and study the day he comes back. The contrast with the industry he’s been working in, especially at clubs like PSG, alongside players like Neymar or Cristiano Ronaldo, entire industries whose stature transcends the game, could hardly be greater. Which may be part of the reason he’s so willing to return.

Which may also be, he suggests, one of the reasons Uruguay overachieves, how a country of 3.5 million people reaches out to Qatar — “there’s not a lot of green,” Cavani says with a smile — believing the goal is to win. .

“Why are we competitive? Because they teach us to be so,” Cavani says. “Because stadiums are everywhere. In every neighborhood, every place no matter how disadvantaged. Wherever there is space to kick the ball, there is a game. That competitiveness required as a professional is already there: You’ve been doing it your whole life, every day, in the rain, any surface, playing barefoot, breaking a toe, twisting it and getting on with it. I always say that playing football is different from playing football compete.

Edinson Cavani acrobaticly scores against Venezuela in the Qatar 2022 qualifiers.
Edinson Cavani acrobaticly scores against Venezuela in the Qatar 2022 qualifiers. PHOTOGRAPHY: Pablo Porciuncola/AFP/Getty Images

“We’ve kept that essence. Look at modern football, which loses that essence. Maybe I come from that old school. Maybe I don’t quite fit in with modern football, in terms of attitudes, and what it means to the players. It doesn’t mean you can’t say what You feel it, right? I see it constantly: modernity, social media, how is the world, how technology has advanced, football has come in. It changes mentalities. Before, everyone on the team had the same goal. Nowadays, in certain teams for reasons Different – fame, what people and the press feel – this is not always the case.

There is something about Cavani’s tone of loss, disappointment and hurt. “Maybe yes, yes. Real. Because I come from a school where the most beautiful thing that can happen is to win as a team. For me, no player can make you win a World Cup on his own. It does not exist and never will exist. Anyone can do something magical but you You need teammates, and put their lives on the line. It’s often forgotten. Instead, it’s all about the scorer, the famous name, the Ballon d’Or. This takes the focus away from what’s really important, so that what the team wants to achieve becomes distorted and distorted. You feel that And you experience it. I lived it.”

I learned from him too. “Because I never had any desire to be famous or to be The better but Mine Best of all, I analyzed my teammates,” he pauses, “look.” “Because the most famous players get the spotlight more and sometimes feel the need to prove it…” There is another pause. “When I analyzed, I saw negative things. She helped me learn and the positive things that followed. Everyone has their own personality, you respect that, but there are things I don’t want to have in my life, and I totally reject them. This is my thinking.”

The way Uruguay says it, like the countryside, is a refuge; A way to reconnect with what has been left behind. “A lot is about humility. Here, the player knows you have to be humble, to step aside from certain rules. These days everything takes us to a place where the player is arrogant, because he thinks about trophies, about…” Cavani pauses. “He leaves aside the nicer things. If I ever get an individual award, I will be glad, sure, because it highlights your work, but it won’t change my life because the greatest happiness is the image of my home team.”

So how does Uruguay avoid that trap of arrogance and selfishness? How does that not shift with the advent of a new generation? “You know what that is?” Cavani replies. “It is in our national team, as in our country, that such people are not looked upon kindly. It could be something cultural. This idea, that identity, is so evident from a youth level that it is already ingrained in the Uruguayan players and we hope it will never be lost. Culture “The work, the sacrifice and the unity that has seen us beat great national teams. It’s not Suarez or Cavani or this or that guy, no. It’s Uruguay. The goal is to win. We know that none of us will win anything alone.”

Uruguay fans in Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez shirts during Russia 2018.
Uruguay fans in Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez shirts during Russia 2018. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

“We all play at a high level but when you’re in the national team you realize that the essence of football is I’m still here,” says Cavani, something almost sad in his voice. “They are famous names, stars in big clubs, but you feel this solidarity, what football is really about. I like to sweat my shirt. Sometimes you lose but I want to know that my team gave themselves fully. When you win that way, you enjoy it twice. That’s my philosophy.” In life and football. I deserve it. Anything that comes easy doesn’t have the same feeling. He who simply receives never appreciates it as much as he does when it costs, when there are sacrifices.

“One of the things I’ve learned about myself through football is that there’s always a reason. When you’re working towards a goal, incredible things can happen. Coldly, sometimes, you can’t comprehend it, you can’t comprehend it, but if you follow through with it, it can happen.” .

“The peace I need to deal with football, what you see as pressure, is knowing I respect my team-mates, and nothing has stopped me. Fear takes hold of you sometimes, but if you know you give it all – really, not just lip service – that takes the pressure off.” About you. You have nerves before the game, before the World Cup, but it shows you’re alive and ready. The day I don’t have it, I’m gone. People confuse it, they get it wrong: A little fear is good. And then, once you step in there disappear.”

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