Mario Fernandes: It was a great honor for me to wear the Russia national team shirt!
PFC CSKA defender decided to end his career in the national team.
Photo — official website RFS
Our footballer played 33 matches for the Russia national team (excluding the friendly match with Dynamo), in which he scored five goals. Mario explained the reasons for his leaving to pfc-cska.com in an exclusive interview.
— Mario, why did you decide to end your career in the Russia national team?
— I started to think about it after the European Championship, talked to my family, consulted with my wife, prayed a lot. I also discussed this moment with Roman Babayev and informed him of my decision. But I decided to help the guys in the September matches after the change of the national team's coaching staff.
I will soon turn 31, and I have a certain plan for the future, which involves another three years of career. Every time it becomes more and more difficult to perform on both fronts, more and more time is required to recover after the games. Unfortunately, injuries have also become more frequent. Now I want to focus on playing for the club that has become my family. Well, it also would be unfair for me to take a place in the national team, we need to give young guys the opportunity to develop, progress and play in the national team. So, I decided to leave right now.
— Have you discussed your decision with the national team's head coach Valeri Karpin?
— Of course. I would never have left the national team if I had not agreed on a decision with the team’s coach. I explained my position to Karpin. And I would like to thank him for the support he gave me. RFS is also aware of my intention to finish my career in the national team.
— What moment in the national team will you remember for the rest of your life?
— All the matches for the national team were important for me, starting with the first friendly game against Dynamo Moscow, I scored a goal then, and up to the last game against the Croats.
But the quarterfinal of the World Cup is still a special moment for me, to some extent extraordinary. This match will always remain in my memory. I experienced unique, special emotions.
— Is the World Cup quarterfinal the peak of your career?
— In the national team, yes. All football players dream of performing at the World Cup. And in this case, it was also held in Russia, the whole country supported us, lived this championship. The national team has never reached that far in this tournament.
— Have you ever regretted that you chose to play for the Russia national team, not for Brazil?
— No! I will never be disappointed in that. I remember the moment when Roman Babayev was just starting to talk to me, would it be interesting for me to get Russian citizenship. And I have never doubted my decision.
First of all, I would like to thank God for opening the doors to PFC CSKA and the Russia national team for me, without Lord I would not have achieved anything. I am grateful to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who gave me the opportunity to obtain citizenship, and I am grateful to all other people involved in this. I would also like to thank everyone with whom I worked in the national team — partners, staff, team administration and all the fans. It was a great honor for me to wear Russia national team shirt, to defend its colors, I will never forget it!