Roberto Carlos was a familiar face to anyone who followed football in the 1990s and 2000s, with his compact, muscular frame, shaved head, ready smile, and massive thighs that resembled the base of a giant redwood.
By any measure, he was one of the best left-backs of all time, with a slew of trophies to show for it: a World Cup winner's medal, two Copa America crowns, four La Liga titles, and a slew of individual awards. Oh, and he also scored what is possibly the best free kick in history.
On Zoom from his vacation in Portugal, he discusses everything from that free-kick to Luke "Shawberto Carlos," the rising Euro 2020 legend.
GQ: Looking back on your career, what would you say was your proudest moment?
Roberto Carlos: From my first training session at the age of 13 right to the end of my career, I don’t have an exact moment. My entire career was wonderful. Obviously, there was 2002 [Brazil’s fifth World Cup win], but I don’t really think that one moment stands out.
GQ: Your goal against France in Le Tournoi is the stuff of legend. Do you ever get tired of being asked about it?
Roberto Carlos: [Laughs.] I never get tired of it. It’s actually quite fun because, even now, it’s a goal that no one understands. I don’t understand it myself, so how is anyone else going to understand it?
GQ: Who was better at free kicks, you or David Beckham?
Roberto Carlos: [Immediately and without the translator] Me! Me!
GQ: Luke Shaw played very well and people started calling him “Shawberto Carlos”. What did you think of his performances?
Roberto Carlos: [Laughs.] He was the best player in the tournament. He has to keep it up; he has to continue playing like that. That’s important.