This week we spoke with former Corinthians and now MLS star, Marcelo Sarvas, about his well-traveled Soccer career and his walk with Jesus.
Marcelo, here we are at the start of a fresh season, excited for the campaign ahead?
Well every time you always aim to be champions, otherwise you can’t play sport. In pre-season you do everything that you think will give you the foundation to last the season, without injury. We are just at the beginning and have only been in training for a week, it’s a lot of pain because your body goes from zero to one hundred in one day. It’s just how we get in shape!
How special is the MLS to you, you’ve played with some great clubs.
This is my third club in the MLS, I was at LA Galaxy where I won two championships which I will never forget and also I was in Colorado, now I feel like I am home. I have great people working around me, it’s a big club but at the same time is also a family club and very welcoming towards people. I feel great.
You have played in several leagues around the world, including Brazil, Sweden, Poland, Costa Rica and the US but in which league have you enjoyed your time the most?
Every place is special, I grew up in Brazil where my foundation was Soccer and it’s where I learnt to play, where I learnt the spirit of fighting, competition and the winning mentality. This was with Corinthians. Then I moved to Sweden and it was the place where I turned from youth to professional, after that was Poland which is an amazing country. It’s a great place to live and it’s beautiful.
My biggest surprise was playing in Costa Rica, I went there when I was thirty and I was thinking about stopping the game because I didn’t have the desire anymore. I spend one year there and the people were amazing, they love their sport and I got that feeling back. It gave me the energy to carry on playing and so then I moved to Galaxy. This feeling just kept growing despite my age, I am thirty-five this season and I feel young, like I can play forever.
Was there a back-up plan for if you didn’t make it in Soccer?
No, I grew up playing and my grandpa played professional Soccer in Brazil. He played against Pele as a defender, he was at a small club and didn’t make much money but he had a beautiful career. My father couldn’t play because he had to go out and work so his dream fell on me, when I was four or five years old I started to play Futsal in Brazil and never stopped. I don’t know how to do a different job, I have no idea what I would have done. I see God’s hand in everything I have done in my career, he has a plan for everyone and I am just glad that I have given my life to him.
Who is the best player that you have played against in the MLS to date?
Javier Morales, he is now at Dallas, I think he is a very good player technically and he always brought a lot of trouble.
Off the pitch, do you support any teams in world sport?
I am in love with Basketball and the NBA. Washington Wizards are the hometown team and I’ve made some friends there, I’ve been to the games and love to follow it all on TV. My son and I go to watch together, it is really fun.
Talk us through the best goal you have scored in your career, which one stands out?
I have two goals, one was in Costa Rica, I scored in the final and we became champions. Also at LA Galaxy I scored a goal in the play-offs against Salt Lake in the first leg. In that moment I was feeling like it would be my last season in the league and so was very emotional.
How did you come to know Jesus for yourself?
That’s very easy. There are two ways to get to God, one is by love and the other is by pain. Mine was by love, I was thirteen I think and in Brazil teams and players pray before training and share in the locker room. So in that time I was a Catholic and there was a group called Christian Athletes, a Brazilian group. I was reading a book from them and on the last page it said that if you want to be a part of this group then let us know. I did and later on I received a welcome letter and went to the group. I met the pastor and I followed him to his church, after that my wife found Jesus along with my father, my aunt and a lot of friends who all heard about Jesus through me. You can see the work of God very well.
Is it hard to live the pro football lifestyle while also living a life that is glorifying to God?
That is tricky because I can’t count myself at that level, I’ve played Soccer but I have never made that kind of money or become that famous. It is just how I see myself, my stance of life and family are very low so we keep ourselves the same as ten or twenty years ago. If you look for Kaka, or Stephen Curry, I am sure it is hard, the bible even says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to go to heaven. God has a plan for each of us and he knows our heart, I am happy with how I am right now.
You’ve previously worn a t-shirt on field that says ‘I belong to God’, is that your way of showing how passionate you are about Him?
It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete, or a teacher or a road worker. It doesn’t matter who you are, I believe our mission is to reach as many people as we can, by example. Before everything I am a father, I have two kids and I want to be the best example that I can be for them. Through my life I want to show love for people and if there is a way to bring people to Jesus, then I am more than happy. I think that was our final game, and you know everyone is watching, I never used to play with this kind of compression t-shirt underneath because it is so warm. However that was a special moment and I had to do it. In the end everything worked because we were champions and I could celebrate, I could show people that whatever we do in life, in the end the glory is for God.
“I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until he completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again”
— Marcelo Sarvas (@MarceloSarvas) May 3, 2016
I have a good bit of history from that game, we went to extra time, everyone was tired but when you have God, you know that he is by your side. I was asking the holy spirit just to work one moment through me in the game, that I could give one pass or score one goal. I then made the pass for Robbie Keane to score and that is not something that just happened, I asked and I believe it. The moment came and I love to share about it.