#AskEmerson: The defender on life at Roma and potentially representing the Azzurri

On Thursday afternoon defender Emerson Palmieri sat down to answer fan questions, in a live interview broadcast through Facebook and Periscope.

From his recently-acquired Italian citizenship to his favourite things about Rome and what he thinks of some of his teammates - see what the full-back had to say in the transcript below.

What first struck you about Rome?

“The first thing that struck me was the city. It’s a beautiful city. I was struck by the beauty of the monuments and occasionally you notice little things while you’re walking around like a small restaurant. Then you go in and it’s lovely. That’s what struck me the most.”

What’s the first thing you thought when you realised you were going to play alongside a legend like Francesco Totti?

“I’m very fortunate. I wasn’t even born when he made his debut. I’m lucky to play with him and train alongside him on a daily basis. I have to thank God for this opportunity.”

What made you choose number 33?

“I like number 3 because my birthday falls on the 3rd of the month - 3 August. I wore number 3 for Santos in Brazil and 13 for Palermo. When I joined Roma, neither 3 nor 13 was available hence why I wanted 33. I’m a big believer in God and the year was 33 when Jesus Christ was re-born."

What’s Edin Dzeko like to play with?

“I know I can play the ball into the box and he’ll be there to score goals. When he plays, he helps us out a lot at the back because we can knock it long to him and he holds the ball up. He’s also a nice presence in the dressing room. He always spoke to me and helped me out from day one. I think he’s a lovely bloke and a top player.”

What’s it like to play with El Shaarawy?

“I have a good relationship with Elsha. Whenever he plays on the left with me he calls for the ball or vice versa and we always have a good rapport. Everyone at the club is like that but Elsha in particular has that excitement about him when he plays. He always wants to take on opposition players and produce spectacular football and I think it’s great to play with him.”

It’s important to have a good understanding with the guy who plays down the same flank as you, isn’t it?

“Yes, I have that with both El Shaarawy and Perotti who play down that side with me. They’re both class.”

Which team-mate do you get on best with?

“That’s a tough one because, as I said in a previous interview, Roma are like a second family. There are, however, guys that I always hang around with like Bruno Peres, Gerson, Juan Jesus and Alisson. But I’m closest to Bruno Peres because we played together for 18 months at Santos in Brazil.”

Did you ever discuss playing together in Europe?

“We said that to each other one day and that dream has come true, which is great.”

Who do you room with on away trips?

“I used to room with Gerson but since Bruno arrived, I share with him.”

Who was your childhood hero?

“There were lots of them but the one who really inspired me to become a footballer was Ronaldo. There are no words to describe him. Ronaldo was always great to watch.”

Who did you support when you were young?

“I was a Santos fan. I’ve always supported Santos just like my dad and brother.”

So you were lucky enough to play for your boyhood club.

“Yes, I was lucky enough to play for the team my whole family and I supported. That was another dream come true.”

Did you always dream of becoming a footballer?

“I always dreamed of becoming a footballer because I didn’t do much work at school. I just wanted to go outside and play football. However, I studied in the end and did all my work.”

Who’s better, Messi or Ronaldo?


What went through your mind after you scored that goal against Villarreal?

“I don’t even know to be honest.”

Did you set out to hit that shot or did you go for it once you saw there was space?

“When I won the ball back, I was looking for a team-mate to pass to. However I saw there was no one around apart from Radja [Nainggolan] who was little behind me. I just thought why not have a go with my right foot. Wow, it was fabulous!”

How angry were you after the ball hit the bar against Sassuolo?

“I watched the replay back after the game several times. Sadly it didn’t go in but that was a wonderful strike. I don’t know if it was a better hit than the Villarreal one because it was more difficult. Had I missed it, it would have ended up in Brazil so you need to be brave to try that one. Unfortunately it didn’t go in.”

At the start of the season, did you expect to play this much?

“I didn’t think I’d play too much after what happened against Porto. I kept working hard as I had before. Sure, it didn’t feel great for a day or so but the only way forward was to keep scrapping on a daily basis and prove to everyone - myself included - what I’m all about as a footballer. Maybe I’m doing that now and I’m delighted. I wouldn’t have managed it without the coach’s faith in me.”

Did you expect to improve so much?

“I know myself and I know what I’m capable of. I know I can play well. Sure, I back myself but I didn’t expect to come on this much. My team-mates helped me out a lot and I’m delighted.”

What single factor brought about the change after the Porto home match?

“My family. I left Brazil to come here and be successful in life. I didn’t leave everything behind to then one day come home empty handed.”

How did you feel when you found out you were eligible for selection for the Italian national team?

“It was an amazing feeling, especially given no one expected me to play at the start of the season. I’m honoured to have my name touted for such a prestigious national team.”

Give us your thoughts on Cafu.

“He won the World Cup and he was a fabulous player. There are no words to describe him.”

Was it hard to leave Brazil to move to Italy?

“I was young. I was only 20. It was hard at the start because I didn’t want to leave my family, friends and girlfriend. But it’s my career, I need to be professional and that’s what life is all about. Sometimes you have to make big sacrifices to be happy.”

How many tattoos do you have?

“I’ve got one, two and then there's this arm. There are around 10 on there.”

Is it true one of them is a tribute to the PlayStation?

“Yes, it’s a PlayStation controller button. The one you press to shoot.”

Do you like video games and what’s your favourite?

“I do like them and my favourite game is FIFA.”

Do you pick yourself in your proper position?

“Of course. Bruno Peres can’t play up front, his job is to put crosses in.”

What’s your favourite song?

“My favourite song is ‘Te busco’. It’s a Spanish track.”

Do you like Roman cuisine and what’s your favourite dish?

“Yes, I love Roman food. My favourite dish is pasta all’Amatriciana. Whenever I can, that’s what I order.”

Do you like sushi?

“Yes, I love it.”

Can you cook?

“No. I can’t cook anything, I can’t even make a coffee. Now I’ve become an Italian citizen I have to at least learn how to cook a plate of pasta.”

Do you like mate? Do you drink it?

“No, the Argentines do and so does Alisson.”

Are there any other sports you follow besides football?

“I like football. I watch games and I play FIFA, if I’m honest.”


Watch the full interview in the video below (in Italian):