Pepe , Porto’s central defender, admitted that when he suffered a knee injury last October “he didn’t sleep” because he just wanted to recover “as soon as possible and be here” in his last World Cup.
“I wanted to come and be able to make my contribution. It’s been a long road, but it’s over, now it’s time to look ahead with ambition and give our best to win,” he commented at the official press conference prior to Friday’s game against South Korea.
He thanked the words of former international Bruno Alves, who assured that, at 39, he is getting better every time: “He is a player with whom I had many opportunities to play. I thank the Federation and my club, the extraordinary medical services, for not only me at 39, but we can all recover as quickly as possible. I want to thank the professionals who don’t appear daily but are there to give their contribution and help the player”, he commented.
The former Real Madrid defender stressed that if he is in the World Cup it is because he is “in shape”.
“I didn’t play the first game due to the coach’s decision, the second I played unfortunately because of a teammate (Danilo’s injury). This happens in football. I tried to do well and it will be like that in other games. The most important thing is that the group be strong, cohesive”.
Pepe warned that he is in the Qatari World Cup to “enjoy”, he wished that the young Antonio Silva “can make a natural path in the national team as Ruben Dias did in the World Cup in Russia (he did not play), good luck, which will also be our luck, and that he help Portugal and also develop in his club”.
Pepe stated that the South Koreans are “very active players, with many qualities, workers, they form a well-organized team that knows what to do on the field” and he did not want to highlight one player above another, but rather “give value to his collective”.
Pepe, who did not want to look beyond this third match of the third phase, without thinking about who the opponent of the Portuguese team will be, described the organization of the World Cup as “spectacular”, assured that the place where the team is concentrated is ” very good and with good conditions to work” and the atmosphere of the two games they played also stood out. “We are super happy to be able to be in the World Cup,” he added.