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The Football Analyst who accidentally chatted-up Alexandre Pato's wife

An Interview with Prague Raptors Football Analyst, Giacomo Mercandelli - By Simona Lebánková




He can speak several languages and loves travelling. He also likes to be in the centre of attention. "You can even put a poster of me in the locker room and I´ll be happy with that." How would he rate himself as a player and why he didn't like Prague at the beginning? Read more about our player analyst Giacomo Mercandelli in our new interview for Prague Raptors.


How did you get to Prague Raptors?

It was a friend of mine, who wanted to come for trials and I wanted to try too. I wasn't sure if I should try as a player or contact them to have any other role. I've decided to contact Daz, who had a management position available. I think he could see that I am excited and motivated. Every time it's a pain to watch the players on the pitch, but let´s be honest — I am not that good. But it was nice to help choose the players and see all the nationalities.


You play a big part in this team. How do you see Raptors so far?

I think we are doing great. Daz is extremely passionate about it, and he puts a lot of his time and resources into it. It started well. I was afraid that people won't take it seriously. Most of the guys are students and they could just go away anytime and not come back. But everybody is taking it seriously.


What do you think is the most important when it comes to players?

Attitude and passion. You can be Maradona, but if you think you can do everything alone, don't need the others and you are not a team player then you are more dangerous for the team than been helpful with scoring couple of amazing goals. Of course, every role of the player is different, but if you have passion for football and the right mentality you can give more than what you even think you can do physically or technically — you need the spirit.


For how long have you been in Prague?

2.5 years. I have always been open-minded and with foreigners in Italy. I didn't like the village my parents brought me, so first I moved to different cities in Italy, but I desperately wanted experience abroad. When I lost my job in Italy, I said "Okay. I got some money, got some time. Let´s travel and visit all my friends." I went for 20 days to Brazil and actually my plan was to travel at least for 6 months. I came to visit a friend of mine in Prague, and they offered me a job. I wasn't sure if I should keep travelling, because I wanted to see much more, but I accepted the job.


How do you feel about Prague so far?

I need to be honest — the first year I hated it. I'm sorry.


Why?

I was undecided. It was 50/50 — travel or a job. I wasn't sure if I made a good decision. I was finding difficulties. You know, it's different to be with foreigners in your country and actually be the foreigner. Maybe I just never tried that before, so I had to adapt to it. Like saying "Dobry den" and people don't answer back. I was building a wall, because I didn't know the language and missed a lot of occasions because of it. Now I am trying to do more things I like and it's fine. I am more social, also thanks to Raptors.


What is the thing you miss the most?

Seafood. I bet a lot of people say this. And also the fact that I used to take a train and in one hour I was at the seaside, which I am unable to do here. But many things I don't miss at all.


What is the thing you actually like about Prague?

Transport, beer, more efficiency. People are not false. They are very straight. In Italy, we think you are cold, but actually it's not like that. I like that people tend to stick to the word and don't fight.


Do you think you will stay here?

Not all my life, but I don't want to go to Italy yet.


On scale of 0-10 — how good are you as a football player?

Probably 4. The thing is when I was a kid, I didn't like football. When the others played, I was crying because I wanted to do something else. I started to like it when I was 11, watching FIFA World Cup 1998 in France.


Do you have a stadium you would like to go?

I would like to go to a stadium in Argentina. I think the atmosphere must be amazing. La Bombonera. Here in Europe I've never been to Allianz Arena and also Juventus' stadium makes me curious.


Three all time favourite players?

The first is Christian Vieri. When I started to play football, I desperately wanted his t-shirt. I remember my aunt had to take me to three different markets. Another one is definitely Pirlo. He is a genius player. I could also easily say Cristiano Ronaldo. Not because he is only good, but he is perfectionist. You can see him running like he is still 20 years old. He keeps in a really good shape. People might see him as arrogant, but he is very professional. However the third one I am going to say Maldini or Totti. I am undecided. Okay, actually – Maldini.


What is your favourite city in Italy?

Perugia. This place means a lot to me.

I wrote a post once that was very long, making a comparison how cities are like women. Milan to me is mum – it is where I grew up and mum is mum, so your heart is always there. Brescia is like grandma – it's healthier, it's countryside but going to sleep at 9PM it's not what you want. Perugia to me was like being a teenager. First love. You love it and you don't want to ever leave it. Tourimini was like a woman that didn't give me time to know her. I wanted to know this city better and stay there more but I didn't have time. Then I thought that love is not for me, so let´s have some adventure. I went to São Paulo, Zagreb, Amsterdam. I could also go to New York which was like the woman of my dreams. Prague at the beginning was the woman that everyone want to have and I could understand why, but I couldn't fall in love with her.


What do you like to do in your free time?

I like traveling like everyone, languages. I am not shy, so I always try to talk even if I know my level is terrible, but that´s how you learn. Like every man I like video games. Also, public speaking, comedy. I was going to pubs in Italy, trying to make the people laugh. I even tried once in New York City, but it wasn't successful. I am quite egocentric, so when Marco asked me if I want to do an interview I was like "Yes!". You can even put a poster of me in the locker room and I´ll be happy with that.


Is there something we don't know about you?

Not something you don't know but I have a funny story related to football. When I used to work at on of the Milan´s hotels I saw this beautiful girl, so I was trying to be a cool guy, telling her that I am local and can show her Milan. But then I found out it was Alexandre Pato's wife. Sthefany Britto. And I didn't know, but then he came and in my mind I was like "I'm sorry man, I didn't mean to. I like you more than your wife."


5 Questions with Giacomo

Mourinho or Conte?

Mourinho.


Messi or Ronaldo?

Ronaldo.


Pizza or Pasta?

Pizza.


Beer or Wine?

Beer.


Beach or Mountains?

Beach.


Our next 'Meet the Raptors' interview is coming very soon. Make sure to sign-up to our Facebook page to keep up with all the latest news.

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