Exclusive – PSG superstar, Lucas Moura – “I was forced to win by playing in a world of giants”

Cross The Line spoke to PSG midfielder, Lucas Moura. Hotly tipped as one of the brightest talents in Europe, the Brazilian speaks about why his relationship with Christ is at the forefront of his life. 

What was life like growing up in Brazil as a young lad?

My life as a child was quite disrupted, let’s say. I did have a very good childhood and I enjoyed my childhood a lot. I was playing a lot of football and that meant that it also ended a little early because I left home very young, but whilst I was at home, I lived with my parents in my family’s house which I enjoyed a lot.When I was 13-years-old I had to leave home, I went to live in a training centre in Sao Paulo.  It was a very good childhood that I have several memories that I remember very fondly despite being in a difficult neighbourhood where I lived in the middle of. There were many things that went on outside in our streets that were very wrong: drugs, crime, but I was able to enjoy being a kid so much and never got involved with anything like this. I often thank God and my parents for the education I had as well.

Who was your footballing role model?

To be honest, I never really had a specific player who aspired to be like. I grew up seeing several players of great quality, I always say that my idol was Zinedine Zidane for the quality he had with the ball, he played with such elegance, he was a guy I really liked watch and see play. For me, I admired him but not so that I was inspired by it but because myself and him have such totally different characteristics. I always wanted to make my own style, use my main features and use my quality and God given gifts that he gave me. As well as Zidane, I also loved to watch the likes of Ronaldinho and Ronaldo when I was growing up.

Playing for Sao Paulo, your boyhood club, was that a dream come true for you?

Without a doubt playing in Sao Paulo was a dream come true, a great honour for me as it’s one of the biggest clubs in Brazil with a lot of history, a lot of tradition. So for me to play for them, it was a huge privilege. Everything from playing in the youth team all the way to making it as a professional, all the care I had, everything I lived for was in that team. I remember my time in Brazil with fond memories and I will save them for he rest of my life. Sao Paulo was the club that designed me for football, which allowed me to fulfil my dream of becoming a professional player so without a doubt I keep Sao Paulo with a lot of affection in my heart.

How hard was it to move away from Brazil when PSG signed you?

The change was a little complicated and undoubtedly so, but it was also a great dream to be able to transfer to the Paris Saint-Germain and playing in Europe with the prospect of  Champions League football with great players. However, I found the emotional side hard and it was a difficult to leave my home country, leave my family, leave my friends and until today I think it’s the hardest part of living away from Brazil, that’s that nostalgia, but all this is part of the life of the professional football player, it is part of the life of any player who seeks great goals like I dream of playing in Europe. The idea of playing in the Champions League and pursuing my goals in football was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I have no doubt that with the presence of God in my life, He has helped me through a lot and enabled me to endure the all the difficulties that come my way.

What’s life like in France now, are you enjoying it?

My life here in France is very good, I like it a lot, I always say that I’m living a fantastic experience here, not only professional but also as human being. Everything I’ve learned here in these four years, without any doubt, I’ll take it with me for the rest of my life. Everything that I am going through, victories, defeats, joys, sorrows, all this serves as a lesson for me. It serves as learning and maturing as well.

Just to be able to live in Paris in one of the most visited cities in the world and to be able to learn another language and live in another culture is great. With all this around me, it’s very important for me to try to make the most of this season in my life here, to be able to learn more and more, grow more and more, as a person and as a player. I’m really having a fantastic experience and I am so grateful to God for the gift to play for a club like PSG.

As one of the biggest footballing talents around, do you worry about the media attention that surrounds you as a player?

Well, although I’m still young at 24-years-old, I do not consider myself as a new football talent as I’ve been playing in the professional game since I was 17-years-old and I’m 24 years old now so I’ve been a professional 7 years, so I wouldn’t really consider myself a new talent. I worry about the attention sometimes, especially with the attention mainly of the fans, I always try to treat them with much affection with a lot of attention because I receive a lot of affection on social networks and personally also when I go out on the streets, when I’m in Brazil too. This is a great inspiration for me and a great motivation, a great fuel in reality and I am very grateful to all the fans that I have that are always helping me, sending positive messages regarding interviews, all this is part of the football, you have to know how to deal with it, I’ve never had a problem with that, the issue of criticism and praise I know how to deal with it very well, I do not get carried away with the compliments and I do not get shaken with criticism.

I try to do my best on the field and to be happy in helping my team. I want to try and have fun on the field as that is what I love to do, and all I have ever wanted to do since I was a child . So when I’m on the field I’m there to have fun, to show everyone the talent that God gave me, the love that I have playing football and that for me is what matters.

What would you say is your best attribute as a player?

Well, I don’t really like to talk about myself in this way, but if I had to say something I think I see my greatest attribute as my speed with the ball. I like to think I am a player who likes to accelerate the game, to create situations create goals, dribble as well, I think this is my main feature. Speed with the ball, dribbling and helping my teammates. I like to help the team very much and this means I have to focus on defending, which means I have to return to mark, to help defensively and join in collective goal.

What’s been your career highlight?

Well I have had several good moments in my career, I think my farewell to Sao Paulo in my last year there was special as we went on an unbeaten run to secure the title. In 2011 I also lived a fantastic moment where I was part of the team that won the U-20 South American Championship with Brazil.

Additionally, it was a real honour to be named in the the Olympics team for my country and finally here in Paris. All these years conquering titles, every season that passes I have been evolving more and more, making more goals, helping the team more, so it is difficult to choose just one moment as I have so many!

Who is the best player you’ve ever played against?

I’ve had the honour of playing against several big players in my career but if it was to choose one, is also a guy that I look up to a lot and in my opinion, he is the best player in the world, Lionel Mess. I was so impressed with the quality he has. It’s one thing seeings him play on the TV, but it’s something else when you are playing against him, facing him! The quality he has carrying the ball, with his touch so close to his foot and the way he dribbles in such short space is phenomenal. As well as his incredible talent, he is an awesome guy who I admire a lot.

How did you become a Christian?

Well, in fact, I’m from a Catholic family. My whole family are practically Catholic so was I until I left Brazil in 2013, where I also considered myself a Catholic, but I did not practice, I did not attend mass, I did not do anything that made me different really, nothing. People came to tell me about the Bible, Jesus, the evangelicals and I did not pay much attention to these people, I did not want to know and after I arrived in France I met people who came to work with me and in a very simple and very wise way they were showing me the Word of God, the Bible, showing me more about Jesus. Coinciding with this at the time, I began to have difficulties, I was missing home, I was missing Brazil and it got my thinking a lot. I began to interest myself in what these people were saying to me and so I started to read the Bible and started to get the grasp God’s love for me. From there on, it was very fast and I began to understand the message and I fell in love with reading the Bible and I fell in love with the gospel of Christ, that was 2013.

I made my commitment to Christ in the same year that I had lots of worries about moving away from home and now I can safely say that all of my doubts that I had in relation to this, in relation to God and the Bible, to the world, the creation to all these things practically disappeared; I am a much safer person, I live at peace with myself and with my future. I know that God gives me a security, a comfort and this allows me to be happy.

Do you believe that your football talent is a gift from God?

Of course! Not only do I believe that it is a great gift from God and I believe that if he gave me this talent, this gift and because he wants to use me in this environment, in the midst of football, he wants to fulfil some purpose of him through football. I wholeheartedly believe this and I am very grateful to God that I have been able to live this dream of becoming a professional football player.

I thank God very much and I am sure he has much more for me in store, as I said he has a purpose to fulfil in my life in the midst of football and in the same way, I believe that each one of us has a call anywhere, whatever area of life you enjoy. I believe that God has something for me in football and I pray that I can encourage and influence some people along the way throughout my journey.

How do you want fans to remember you by when you retire from the game?

Good question! No doubt, every player wants to be remembered for everything he did in the field, for the performances, for the titles, I also want this. However, I also want to be remembered mainly by my example as a person, I want to be remembered as a man of God, a person with good attitude and for me, I believe that is what matters most, the character, the good example of a person who helps people to find God. I want to be remembered for that.

How much does it mean to you represent your country, Brazil?

Representing my country means a lot to me, it’s a great honour as it’s very difficult to be involved with the Brazilian team. It is always very well served by players and the country has so many wonderful options of players to call-up so whenever I am involved it’s an enormous pleasure for me. It shows me that people are recognising my work, so I always try to give my best to represent my country well and I will always wear my countries colours with great pride.

What’s your favourite skill to get passed a defender?

My favourite technique to get passed a defender is undoubtedly try to beat him with a dribble using my speed. I often try and do a little jink to see where their body goes and then that allows me to deceive the defender. It’s also very important to anticipate the play before the ball ball arrives and imagine what you can do, what you will do, this is very important but also essential to always be spontaneous. At the time, when the ball is at your feet, you need to visualise what’s going to happen before you’ve done it, that’s the key.

Tell us more about your journey with Christ, what has God been teaching you recently?

Well as I said earlier, I found Christ in 2013 and it’s been an amazing journey. As soon as I started to read the Bible, I began to search and ultimately, I found Jesus very quickly and I began to understand things very easily, things began to become clearer in my head. God has given me a way of discerning his word and that comes through seeking him every day with prayers, with frequent bible reading and church when I can. Sometimes, when we are at home, I gather some friends and I have pastoral friends who go home to do the service for us to read the word of God, to pray, to sing hymns to the Lord, and enjoyed some fellowship with my friends as we celebrate our lives with Christ.

We have to constantly be feeding on the word of God, every day looking for more, it needs to be a constant way of life, we can not let our love become lukewarm, we have to be always searching. When you seek him with all your heart, he will reveal himself to us, he will show us the direction and that motivates me more and more to seek him each day. As I said, I fell in love with the Bible, through the gospel of Christ, because only those who have a real encounter with God feel in their hearts the presence of God and those people know how good it is and will understand that we do not trade that love for anything.

Is it hard to be a Christian in the world of professional football?

I would say that it’s not only hard in the world of football, but it is difficult to be a Christian in life. The very word of God says that the door is narrow and there are few who pass through it. The door that leads to eternal life, the door that leads to Christ is narrow because one has to open up our will, open our desires, love our enemies, ask for forgiveness and forgive others – these things aren’t easy. Sometimes, we let our pride speak louder than our faith, so it’s not easy. We go against all the world. The world offers many things that are fleeting and end up taking man’s attention, desires, loss, wealth, all this, but it is not easy to walk in the opposite of these things. For me, I would never exchange the life of Christ for anything else, not for all the wealth of this world, because I know that in Christ I will have much more and I know that in Christ the victory is much greater and nothing can ever replace that. To have eternal life, to dwell in heaven with Jesus, to live in glory, to live in Paradise, nothing replaces this for me.

Are there any Bible stories or characters that you can relate to, if so, why them?

Well I believe that David’s story is a bit like mine because when I was a child, I was always the little one in the class, always very small, skinny, and then people sometimes looked at me with a look of distrust, they never believed in me. I remember that when it came to choosing teams for football, l was always the last to be chosen because everyone thought that because I was soft and weak, I should not play.

In some ways, I was forced to win by playing in a world of giants, just like David when he took on Goliath. I think I can relate to this story because I have won several giants in my life.

What’s your favourite Bible verse?

What’s favourite passage? That’s hard as there are several passages that I find beautiful, but my favourite passage is Psalm 139. This to me is very deep, and very strong, every time it moves me and speaks to me about the greatness of God and his power.

Why do you think people need Christ in their lives?

Christ is the way, the only way, the truth and the life, he died for us to cleanse us from our sins and to save us. He made the sacrifice to seek us, and to reconnect the human race with God. His own word says that without him we can do nothing then the peace that you have in Christ in your life, you live in peace. A peace that transcends all understanding in your home, in your marriage, with your friends and at work. You will have a prosperous life and not only related to the financial sense but more-so the fact that you will have a prosperous life and to live well, to live happy with what you have, to be contented. When you give your life to the Lord you live in peace, you live happily and ultimately you also gain eternal life. To dwell in eternity with God, to live in glory, to live in heaven beside Jesus where there will be no more pain, where there will be no more suffering, where there will be no tears at all, that is only with Jesus, only with God.

What does the future hold for Lucas Moura?

Wow, good question! I do not know exactly, I can not answer that but one thing I am sure of is that God is in control of my life and I am sure that with him the victory is guaranteed. God gives us much more than we can imagine, God has a life for us, for each one of us, a life of abundance. He loves each of his children so much so I’m sure that even though I’m not sure what my future holds, I will be far more fulfilled, much more than happy, much more than victorious in whatever I do because Jesus will guide me. With him there is no defeat with him, there is only victory.

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