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A stunning goal, an assist and a devastating individual display helped the Ukrainians tear apart Real Madrid in a sensational Champions League first-half performance in October as they raced into a 3-0 lead.
They ultimately held on to a memorable 3-2 win and now, before a crucial return match at home in Group B on Tuesday, the Brazilian attacking midfielder reflects on what could prove a pivotal moment in his career.
“The game at Real Madrid was definitely the best and most important in my career so far,” .Tete told BBC Sport in an exclusive interview
“It was a great honour and pleasure to play against legends like Marcelo and Casemiro – a dream come true. I wanted to show my skills and prove myself, so I dribbled against Marcelo one on one. I was happy to have helped the team to get such a great and important result.”
Tete’s performance in Madrid highlighted his potential to join the list of Brazilian stars who developed at Shakhtar, which includes Manchester City’s Fernandinho, Arsenal’s Willian and Juventus’ Douglas Costa – who is on loan at Bayern Munich.
Famous for their superb scouting network in Brazil, Shakhtar’s squad has been based around Brazilian players for almost two decades. There are 13 Brazilians on the current roster, yet Tete’s story is special.
Signed for £13.5m from Gremio academy in early 2019 without making a single appearance for the senior team, he enjoyed an impressive first full season at Shakhtar – including a man-of-the-match display in the 1-1 draw at Manchester City a year ago.
“It wasn’t really difficult to make a decision to move, because I knew the surroundings would suit me. I spoke to Douglas Costa, who grew at Gremio like myself, and he told me that there are a lot of Brazilians at Shakhtar,” he says.
“It was easy to settle. The coach Luis Castro is Portuguese, and even the nutritionist is from Portugal. Everyone speaks Portuguese over here, and the club makes every effort to make us feel at home.”
He hopes to follow in the footsteps of Douglas Costa, while Ronaldinho – another Gremio graduate – is an idol. But Tete finds special inspiration in watching the greatest Brazilian footballer of them all.
“I am very fond of Pele, he was amazing, and I have a habit of viewing his videos on my mobile phone in the dressing room before every game. It would be a dream to meet him, or at least to talk to him. Maybe if I beat Real Madrid once more, that would be easier to accomplish.”
Tete, a self-confessed Barcelona fan, added:
“My biggest dream is to play for Barcelona. Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Romario and Ronaldo represented Barca, and I would love to join that list. Obviously, starring against Madrid would do my cause no harm at all.
“I also follow Liverpool and Manchester United, and like each of them in equal measure, even though they are rivals. They are the biggest traditional clubs in England. I am neutral when they face each other – it’s good to support those who win. It would be great to play for either of them.”
Nicknamed Furacao (Hurricane), Tete’s style is somewhat reminiscent of former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben, because he loves cutting inside to his stronger left foot.
“Once I had a great game for the youth team at Gremio, and journalists gave me that name. I like it because it highlights my explosive style.
“I used to play in central midfield in my youth, and was tried on the left on a couple of occasions, but right winger is definitely my favourite position. People tell me that I play like Robben, and it would be nice to try and reach his level.”
After two heavy defeats against Borussia Monchengladbach, Shakhtar must take three points on Tuesday to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the last 16.
And Tete has prepared for the fixture in the best possible fashion, scoring the late winner at Dnipro-1 on Saturday.
“I am delighted with my first league goal of the season, and now we must perform against Real Madrid again,” he says. “The previous win gives us confidence, and we’ll do our best to score three more goals.”