The words of Brazilian futsal legend Falcão still ring in the ears of Kurukuru captain Elliot Ragomo.
“If you guys stick together you will be a good team,” he told the then 17-year-old in 2008 when the Solomon Islands made their FIFA Futsal World Cup debut in Brazil.
For the wide-eyed youngsters from Solomon Islands, it was a dream come true to be standing on the hallowed earth in futsal’s spiritual home.
But to be taking on the eventual champions was something else entirely.
“Eight years ago we played the best team in the world and got beaten badly,” Ragomo recalls of that 21-0 loss.
“I still remember it, but we learned a lot and cherish every single moment of that experience.”
Today they get a second chance against the mighty Brazilians, in what will be Falcão’s last international match on home soil, as the
Kurukuru prepare for the opening match of their third world cup on 12 September.
“This time around after eight years we get to play them again.
“I mean, it’s every futsal player’s dream to play against Brazil. We first played them when we were 16-17 years of age and now I think we have matured and we’re looking forward to being better than 2008.
“It is truly a dream for myself and my boys. We are back not as 16-year-olds, but as men,” Ragomo said.
For teammate Jack Wetney, the opportunity to once again play Brazil, in Brazil, is immense – but to be involved in a piece of history involving his favourite player is something else entirely.
“We first met Falcão back in 2008 during our first Futsal World Cup in Brazil,” he remembers.
“As young lads, at the ages of 16 back then, it was a dream come true to be able to play alongside the best futsal player in the world.
“Now eight years later, here we are again and the great honour for us is the Kurukuru players get to farewell the god of futsal on his home soil before he retires at the upcoming FIFA Futsal World Cup in Colombia.
“This man is one of the reasons why I chose to wear my futsal jersey number 12.”
Ragomo has spent the past three months ensconced in Brazilian professional life along with national teammate George Stevenson.
The pair have been training with Minas, a local club, and the captain believes it has been nothing but beneficial for them as individuals, and for Solomon Islands futsal in general.
“My time with Minas has given me as a player, an opportunity to mature in a lot of aspects of playing futsal at a higher level.
“It’s also helped me to learn how and why Brazil is the number one team in the world!
“Technically and tactically Brazilian players are naturals.”
Ragomo also believes that the Solomon Islanders have a similar style to Brazilians.
“Our squad has a Brazilian coach, Juliano Schmeling, and the way and style he makes us play really suits the way we play naturally.
“The Solomon style, we sometimes joke we have “our own programme”, but I think the way the squad has developed is very positive and we look forward to playing the three best grand finals of our pool come the world cup.”
But first they’ve got a memorable match against Brazil to play to complete their preparations.
The Kurukuru kick off against Brazil at 8pm (BRA).