“We’ll try to make something seem normal which really isn’t,” says the 23-year-old about his first UEFA Champions League semi-final.
Rúben Dias has settled in brilliantly in his first season at Manchester City, the 23-year-old central defender having benefited from close analysis of Premier League games during his time at Benfica.
Now the Portuguese international is within sight of the UEFA Champions League final with his new club; he tells UEFA.com he is expecting a brutally hard last-four tie against Paris, and that he continues to learn an enormous amount on the job.
On facing Paris
There have been five or six seasons in which we haven’t been able to get past the quarter-final stage. So obviously we’re very happy to have progressed to this stage. It means we’re that bit closer to our objective while fully aware that there is still a lot of hard work to be done.
Anyone that likes football has seen Paris play, so there’s already an understanding, a clear one, of what PSG are like. Equally they will have a very good understanding, I’m sure, of what our team are. It will be like another final. We’ll try to make something seem normal which really isn’t. We have been competing in what are like finals since the campaign began: one game at a time, treating every game like a final, and only like that can our team succeed.
On his calling as a defender
I went to schoolboy trials at my local club Estrela da Amadora and I was confident that I was going to be a striker. [During the trials] my team were having a bad time. We conceded one or two goals. I was playing as a striker and I went into defence. I think that describes what is – and has always been – my way of being, which is not being able to bear watching my team suffer.
There was this old man who spoke to my dad and me, and said: ‘This kid is a central defender, there’s no way around it. He is and will continue to be a central defender in the future.’ And that’s where we are today.
On life-long learning
A lot of times my girlfriend tells me ‘oh, you’re going to watch another match’, and I always answer her jokingly: ‘Let me read my book a little bit more.’ There are always opportunities to learn – there’s a passage of play you can analyse, to see a goal that a team conceded, to see how the team failed to stop that goal, or to see sometimes how they were able to prevent it.
Since an early age, encouraged by my father, I’ve been used to learning from everything that I saw and to not looking at the game as a spectacle but rather as study material. I didn’t learn from just one, two or three players. I’ve learned from 10, 20, 30. I’ve learnt from everything that I’ve seen which was a good example. Even today I learn a lot from watching other defenders.