Joao Teixeira Interview: If you leave Liverpool, there’s nowhere bigger.

João Carlos Teixeira is growing at Liverpool. The youngster who just turned 23 has been integrated in the first team squad, he’s already played three games this season and scored his first goal at Anfield. A moment which will be hard for him to forget.

The Portuguese, remember, was discovered at the Nextgen tournament, when he shone for Sporting’s youth team in Liverpool. The transfer to Liverpool happened very quickly, he’s now been with the reds for 4 years, having taken several steps towards to first team.

In this interview to Maisfutebol, João Carlos Teixeira affirms his love for the English club. Nearing the end of his contract, he’s already started talks to renew and hopes to stay for a long time: it is there, as a matter of fact, where he sees himself five years from now, in the starting eleven.

He admits that such an early transfer to England kept him out of sight of the Portuguese, hence he wasn’t selected for the U21 Euros. But he ensures that he doesn’t regret the choice he made and confirms that he wants to be at the Olympic Games this year.

Can we say that this is the best period in the career of João Carlos Teixeira?
If it’s my best period? Honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t played much, I’ve been on the bench a lot and I don’t like this. I’ve played three games for the first team, true, on Wednesday I scored my first goal for Liverpool in Anfield and this is very special. It’s been good, but I want to play more. I need to play more.

But you’re training with the first team and already playing…
Yes, exactly. I think I’m asserting myself bit by bit.

And now, why is it that you didn’t celebrate your goal on Wednesday?
I did celebrate, but in a calm and collected way. It was the team’s third goal; we were confident in the game so I didn’t think it made sense to celebrate in an exuberant manner.

You were chosen as the best player in Liverpool’s Academy. Do you think you’re one of the poster boys of the club?

I think I’m just like the others, honestly. I’m here to work and I have to prove that I can play more. But of course this prize was special. Liverpool is huge, it’s an emblematic club in the world and that prize has a great importance to me. But it doesn’t take the focus away from what I want.

And what is it that João wants?

I want more minutes. What I want most of all is to have more game time.

But do you want to have more minutes in Liverpool or are you saying you want to leave to play more?

No, no, no. I want to have more minutes with Liverpool.

Wouldn’t you like to be loaned to a Portuguese club, for example?
Portugal is my country, but the football is very different and I’d lose the English style a little bit. Of course playing for Sporting, Benfica, Porto or Braga is different, they’re big clubs but even so the football is different so I don’t know to what extent this would be beneficial for me.
So you don’t want to return to Portugal not even to play for one of the big clubs?

No, I didn’t say this. What I meant is that I’d like to stay at Liverpool and stay in England. But I won’t close the door to other offers. Right now my plan is to stay at Liverpool and play more here, but you never know what will happen in the future.

During the years you’ve spent in England, have you missed Portuguese football?

We can’t forget that football in England is more exciting and more “lived” than it is in Portugal. I always keep an eye on Portuguese football, I have friends playing there, mainly for Sporting, so I follow it to see how they’re doing. I’m happy when they play and I like to see friends as such as João Mário, William Carvalho and Adrien having an influence on Sporting’s football. So I miss my country, I miss playing for Sporting with my friends and I’d like to be more recognised in Portugal. I never played for the first team at Sporting but I miss the youth team. But other than that I’m happy in England.



You feel you’re living the dream of lots of kids…

Yes, yes, exactly. I feel like I’m living a great opportunity.

Has Liverpool FC given you everything you need to develop?

Yes, without a doubt. There’s a great academy, a great manager, I play alongside great players, so I have everything I need to develop. I’m not lacking anything.

Do you think leaving Portugal so early helped or hindered your development?

Neither one nor the other. I think I developed in a different way. English football isn’t easy and players really have to adapt to the English game. I think I’m more mature, I improved a lot physically and without a doubt I grew as a player.

Were the early stages in England complicated?

I arrived and straight away I got injured, I was out for seven months because of my back. But day to day life wasn’t complicated because I was lucky: Eric Dier was here on loan to Everton so we always hung out together and he helped me a lot. He speaks perfect English and I also spoke it well, although not as well as I do now, but I didn’t know anyone so Dier was a great asset.

And now, who are your best friends there in Liverpool?

Tiago Ilori of course.

His return to the club must have been good news for you I imagine…

Yes, yes of course. It was also really good to have both started the game together on Wednesday and things went well. Tiago Ilori is a great friend. We spend our lives together. Right now he’s living with me because his things, furniture and clothes, still haven’t arrived from Birmingham. But even when he moves into his own house, we’ll always continue to do things together.
As well as him, naturally, I have more of an affinity with the Brazilians, Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, and with the Spaniards, Alberto Moreno and Jose Enrique. We have a little group, we go out together and have dinner at each other’s houses.

You said that Liverpool have a great coach, what is Jürgen Klopp like?

He’s exactly how people see him on the television. He’s just as restless amongst us as he is publicly. He’s in love with what he does. He’s very emotive and brings this to the training sessions, in the way he speaks with us and the way he explains what he wants from us. He’s electric.

And is he as funny as he seems?

Completely. He’s extremely funny. And we have a lot of fun with him. He tells jokes, clowns around with us. The other day we were doing a passing exercise, Jordon Ibe missed a pass and Klopp stopped the exercise to hand over his glasses to him. It’s things like this, he’s always prepared to joke around with us.

Do you feel like you’ve grown with him?

Yes, without a doubt. He changed the way Liverpool play. With every coach you learn new things, but Klopp has been Bundesliga champion and had a Champions League final, he’s a coach with a lot of experience to share and I’ve received a lot from him.

Curiously, at the end of the Bournemouth game, one of the images we saw was Klopp hugging you, smiling: do you think he likes you?

Yes, I think he likes me. But it’s like he says: “I am your friend, but I am not your best friend.” But I think he likes me.

He says he is your friend but he is not your best friend?

Yes, he says this a lot. It’s a way of saying that he’s our friend, but he’s also the man in charge and who makes the decisions. We know that if we have any problem or difficulty that he is there to help us. But then he has to make his decisions.

How has it been to train with Gerrard again?

Here, he’s like a god. I already trained with Gerrard for almost three years but it’s very good to do it again. Just by watching him play you learn from him. Even off the pitch he’s impeccable, respectful, calm, he gives me advice, so he’s a person who’s always helped me.

Is Deco still your footballing role model?

Yes, he is. He’s the player I admire most, he’s my reference. For the way he played at Porto and at Barcelona, I always admired him.

Curiously on Liverpool’s website, you are compared to Deco…

That’s true. For me it’s flattering. It’s always a great compliment.

Change of subject: do you dream of going to the Olympic Games this year?

Yes, of course. I dreamt of going to the U21 Euros, I didn’t go, but I’d really like to go to the Olympic Games. Let’s see what happens.

Do you think going to England left you at a disadvantage and out of sight? (re U21 Euros)

Yes, I agree. I think it disadvantaged me a bit. But at the end of the day there’s nothing I can do about it. Now I have to play in Liverpool’s first team to show everyone I can play for the national team.

When you see your teammates from the youth ranks of Sporting, as such as João Mário and William Carvalho, who not only went to the U21 Euros but are also now in the main national team, don’t you think that it could’ve been you in their place?

No, no I don’t think about this to be honest. It was my choice at the time and I just have to look forward. What I need to do is grow as a player and improve. At the time, transferring to Liverpool was a good opportunity, I thought a lot about making the move and I don’t regret taking that decision at all. The evolution I’ve had as a player has been what I thought it would be.

You’ve already told me that your current goal is to play more at Liverpool, but looking to the future, in four or five years from now, where do you dream of being?

I’d like to be here at Liverpool, playing every game and I’d like to play for the national team.

This really is love for Liverpool…

Yes, it’s normal. What is there beyond Liverpool? If you leave here, there’s nowhere bigger.

At Liverpool all you’re missing is trophies…
(Laughs) Yes. But now we have Klopp.

Heather Middlehurst

19 year old lifelong red, Kolo Touré enthusiast and languages student at the University of Liverpool with a particular interest in Portuguese football.

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