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Marcelinho: Zambrotta changed Delhi Dynamos' mentality

Delhi Dynamos' striker Marcelinho topped the goal-scoring charts after the group stages of ISL 2016.

Delhi Dynamos' Marcelinho could not have asked for a better debut season in the Indian Super League (ISL). The Brazilian has been instrumental in Delhi's run to the semifinals this season. Having scored a tournament-leading nine goals and chipping in with another five assists, Marcelinho has contributed to over half of Delhi's goals this season.

On December 11, Marcelinho will step onto the turf at Kochi's Jawaharlal Nehru stadium for the Dynamos' first leg against Kerala Blasters. The Brazilian shared his experience thus far in the ISL.

Your favourite goal so far?

It has to be my second goal against Goa FC (Marcelinho shot from about 25 yards out with the ball deflecting off the left goalpost before going in). I've scored a lot of goals in my career but it's not often we see a goal like that. The precision of the goal is what stays in my mind. The moment after you score something like that, you feel quite nice. And later on you can start thinking ' that was a really beautiful goal.' Goals like that are something I'll check on video afterwords. When I'm in my room and doing nothing, I'll put on a video of that goal and watch it. I like that a lot.

What do you make of your Indian compatriots in the ISL?

I don't know all of their names but from every team you will see one or two very good players. That's very important for the league. From our side, Anas Edathodika is very good in defense. But my favourite player is Milan Singh. His importance to our team came as a bit of a surprise to me. We depend on him entirely in the midfield. His intelligence shows because he isn't used to playing in that position. (Milan plays central midfield for Dynamos but featured in a more defensive midfield postion before)

What was it like playing alongside Florent Malouda?

It's a huge thing to play with Florent Malouda. The only time I played with him before was on a video game. Now I'm in the same side as him. He is an unbelievably good human being. For me, he is a star but he is very humble and speaks well with everybody. When I see him play, I always want to improve. I always try to understand his game and how he makes the perfect pass.

Marcelinho and Malouda have accounted for 19 of Delhi's 27 goals.
Marcelinho and Malouda have accounted for 19 of Delhi's 27 goals.

What team has been the most challenging to play?

All the teams in the semifinals are good and there's little to choose between them. But for me, NorthEast United FC was the most difficult to face. They are a very organised side which plays very well defensively. I expected them to make the semifinals and it's quite surprising that they didn't.

Your thoughts on Dynamos coach Gianluca Zambrotta?

Zambrotta was a player until only a few years ago, so he has the same mentality as we do. He is very intelligent tactically and is quick to learn as well. But what's most important is how calm he is. He has so much confidence that, as a player, it's easy to imbibe some of it from him.

Sometimes when you are doing badly , the coach will get angry with the players. And that makes them more nervous. Zambrotta is always positive. For me, that's very important. I remember one game against Pune. We finished the first half trailing 0-1 and Pune had just one shot at post. When we came to the dressing room, he just spoke with confidence and made us feel better. He said come on, don't worry. He changed our mentality.

Marcelinho said Zambrotta remains calm and positive even in defeat, qualities that have affected the mentality of the players.
Marcelinho said Zambrotta remains calm and positive even in defeat, qualities that have affected the mentality of the players.

What position do you enjoy playing in the most?

Zambrotta gives players a lot of freedom. Importantly, he supports me wherever I want to play. I've spoken to him and said 'I can play on the left, I can play on the right and I can play like number 10, like a second striker.' I don't care where I'm playing but I need to be in an offensive role.

Tell us about your multiple celebration styles after scoring

I don't go into a match thinking I'm going to do a Namaste or make a heart sign. I personally like my celebration against Chennaiyin FC (slide towards the corner flag on his belly) You can't plan how you are going to celebrate a goal. It comes out naturally like an explosion.

Which do you think is the best stadium to play in?

I've been a professional football player for ten years now, so my focus is always on the field when playing. It doesn't matter if there's one person watching me or 100 or 1,00,000. But in Kerala, when the match would stop, sometimes I would look around the stadium at the huge crowd and it was one of the most beautiful sights. Kerala had the best crowds. I remember when I came to warm up, I looked at the people and I was expecting something bad from them. But they were so happy to speak to me. It was as if I was a Kerala player from Kerala. That was beautiful.

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