‘Father’ of all, Maicon saw leadership emerge in the countryside at the age of 7

Anyone who sees Maicon being one of the pillars of Santos’ defense cannot imagine that his first “profession” was to be a father. Already at the age of seven, responsibility knocked on the door, as the hard routine of his parents led him to take care of the youngest. Dona Nilva and Seu Maurides left every day at 5 am to work in the fields and left Maurides and Muller with Maicon.

A resident of Planura, a small town in the interior of Minas Gerais, he grew up without going hungry, but with meals counted. Breakfast wasn’t daily, and eating a pizza or a hamburger was every three or four months. Even in the face of these difficulties, Maicon was still looking for time to fulfill his father’s old dream: to be a football player.

“I say that I was chosen by God. ‘You will help your family and be the father of all.’ This leadership, this way of dealing with football and with people, comes from the past and how I had to take responsibility for my brothers,” said Maicon, in an almost two-hour interview with UOL Esporte at the Producer Fixe studio, in Santos. The defender completed 500 career games recently.

Maurides is known as an ace in Planura, but he did not turn professional. The dream was transferred to his children. In his spare time, he trained them for the two-legged submission, passing and dominance. The teachings turned stern at times: “I would take some nice slaps to learn to play ball”.

The conquest

The father not only revealed Maicon, but also managed to help Muller and Maurides Júnior. The three sons became professional players. Muller, a “technical defender”, had problems off the field and stopped early after playing for Inter B and Bragantino. Maurides, a “strong striker”, overcame a serious injury early in his career and is now at Radomiak Radom in Poland.

Internacional’s revelation, Maurides injured his knee when celebrating a goal with a somersault. He was out of action for 400 days and lost space in Colorado before moving to Atlético-GO and touring Portugal, Bulgaria, China and Korea. In Portugal, for Arouca against Porto, Maurides faced Maicon.

Maicon avoids saying, but he was the one who worked the most. He understands that the younger ones had more talent but less focus.

“We were always united, but I was the most responsible. I wanted to clean the house because the faster I went, the faster I would train. And my brothers didn’t help, so I hid the boot and they stayed with me. I have my qualities, but three brothers I am the most disciplined”.

Porto and the “almost”

Maicon started at Mamoré and moved to Cruzeiro before being loaned to Cabofriense. He debuted as a professional in the final of the Campeonato Mineiro against Atlético, but he did not establish himself in the squad and, without much pretension, went to a trial period in Portugal. From there he left with a signed contract at Nacional.

Maicon lived his peak in Porto and won nine titles, played 226 times and was even sought after for the Portugal national team. Important offers were turned down, such as from Liverpool, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Roma.

“When a proposal of R$ 20 million arrived, they asked for R$ 30 million. I think I would have the possibility of selection [se tivesse ido], would open the door. I wanted to hang out sometimes, but I never pushed it out of gratitude.”

Maicon, Santos player

Image: Caio Guatelli

Porto turned down big offers, but facilitated Maicon’s departure to São Paulo in 2016. The medical department tried to speed up his recovery from injury. The Brazilian took medicine and injections to play until, in a match against Arouca, he asked to leave and took off his captain’s belt.

The situation worsened when Maicon’s ex-wife offended fans and doctors on the internet. Porto decided to negotiate it and the exit was São Paulo. This fact ended Maicon’s chance to play for Portugal.

“I played in the Champions League, why would I fight against Arouca? I have a lot of affection from the fans, most of them admit, but the way I left was boring.”

the gossip

Maicon did well in Porto, but fate could have been different because of his father’s naivety. There was a secrecy agreement in the negotiation, but Maurides told a reporter.

“I woke up early and my ex-manager had already called me saying that my father had screwed up. It was in the newspapers: ‘Maicon awaits exams in Porto’. My father almost ruined it, but it was meant to be.

Maicon found it difficult to get around the situation and regain the trust of the board. Today, after much apprehension, the story makes the family laugh.

the biggest scare

Maicon lived hours of agony in 2014, when her daughter, then three, fell into a coma on the plane during a flight between Lisbon and Porto. Upon arriving at the hospital, the doctor said that prayer was the only way. That’s where the defender got attached. It was 27 hours of despair, without knowing why Maria was unconscious. Upon awakening, to the family’s surprise, she did not present any sequelae, as if she had only slept.

Later examinations pointed to epilepsy as the cause. Currently, Maria doesn’t even need to take medicine: “I said I would take her to the best hospital, but the doctor told me it wouldn’t help. I got desperate and that was a lesson. a better father.”

In São Paulo, Maicon became the ‘God of Zaga’

Maicon didn’t win titles in São Paulo, but he was happy. Acting at Tricolor was a way of introducing himself to Brazil after leaving for Portugal. And the nickname helped in that goal.

Maicon, Santos defender

Image: Caio Guatelli

Because of the resemblance to the character Kratos, from the game God Of War, Maicon came to be called “God of Zaga”. The exaggerated nickname helped at first, but then it became pressure: “It started to put me at a much higher level, as if I couldn’t go wrong, have a failure”.

The 2016 Libertadores was full of ups and downs for Maicon. In the round of 16 he became a goalkeeper when Denis was sent off in stoppage time against The Strongest. The defender overcame Bolivia’s altitude, recalled the times of indoor soccer and made good saves to secure the result. In the semifinal, however, Maicon was sent off in the elimination to Atlético Nacional (COL).

Maicon believes that if VAR existed, he would not be sent off. The red card damaged part of the defender’s image with the tricolor crowd.

The Adventures

After leaving São Paulo, Maicon went to Galatasaray, in Turkey. There, the defender was received by about three thousand people at the airport. In a pre-classic match against Fenerbahçe, 50,000 fans attended training.

The biggest madness, however, was being a center forward. When he recovered from an ankle injury and wasn’t in ideal physical condition, Maicon was used up front: “I looked at the drawing board and ‘put, centre-forward?’ Okay, let’s go. And it was nice.”

From Turkey, Maicon headed to Al-Nassr, from Saudi Arabia. The first motivation was financial and there was fear of violence, but the defender was positively surprised. The initial idea was terrorism, but Maicon felt safe in the country and helped to Brazilianize the club: “I made the dressing room have music”.

Another surprise was the dinner in the desert. The haruf, a whole skewered mutton, was the feast for barefoot and shirtless guests. The only utensil allowed was the right hand: “Very tasty. One of the best things there.”

Lightning Passage on Cruise

Maicon stayed just over three months at Cruzeiro, the club where it all started. Upon becoming SAF, Raposa renegotiated some contracts and was unable to make their stay viable.

Cruzeiro offered a 40% salary reduction and Maicon asked for this amount to be returned in case of access to Serie A. The condition was refused.

“I’m a player who played for several good clubs, I showed from the beginning that I would like to continue at Cruzeiro. I found it disrespectful and, when Santos appeared, I didn’t think twice.”

Realized dream

The surprising departure from Cruzeiro made it possible for Maicon and his family to come true. The defender supported Peixe in childhood and always saw in his father a fanatic for Pele’s team.

Maicon had already been probed by Peixe before going to Cruzeiro. When the second chance came, he didn’t hesitate. At 34, the defender feels he is finally where he should have been before.

The moment for Santos is not the best, but Maicon believes he can help “return” the greatness of Peixe. And who knows how to retire in the club of the heart?

“I really want to win a title with the Santos shirt. If Rueda [Andres, presidente] want to give me another three or four years of contract, I’ll sign it tomorrow. I have this one, plus one year of contract and renewal option. I want to make my contract last through the years.”

Maicon 'God of defender', Santos defender - Caio Guatelli - Caio Guatelli

Maicon ‘God of defender’, Santos defender

Image: Caio Guatelli

The article is in Portuguese

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