Leandro Rossi: The Brazilian from Andradina who conquered Poland

In an interview with Sambafoot, the footballer discusses his football career and how he became a fan favorite in Poland.
2022-04-07 13:11:43

Leandro Rossi had a long and successful career in Polish football. The striker, who was born in Andradina, in the state of Sao Paulo’s interior, played for a variety of clubs in Brazil before moving to Europe 10 years ago. His football career has taken off since then.

But it wasn’t easy for Leandro, who began his football career in Poland’s fourth tier. Today, the player is regarded as one of Radomiak Radom’s biggest heroes, and the team is in a decent position in the country’s first division, vying for a place in the Europa League next season.

And how did he get there in the first place? “I have a former player mate who has moved to Poland. For me, he opened the doors. “Thank God, everything worked out,” he adds on his decision to accept the challenge. He also told the Sambafoot team that he found the language, cuisine, and weather weird at first, and that he experienced a cold of -15 degrees Celsius as soon as he arrived in the eastern European nation in March of 10 years ago. He also said that even football was not the same as what he was accustomed to in Brazil.

“Everything, including training, is unique. It is quite challenging at first. And the squad I was assigned to when I came was a little one, playing in Poland’s fourth level. But today it’s a whole lot simpler to live and play.”

The beginning in football and the arrival in Poland

Between the ages of 13 and 14, Leandro began playing football. He played for Rio Verde in Mato Grosso do Sul and clubs in Sao Paulo’s hinterland. He was really close to his parents and never imagined being apart from them, but the world of football is full of surprises. “I’m grateful I had this guy who encouraged me to come to Poland since I didn’t have many opportunities in Brazilian football.” I had some poor luck, and I spent two years in amateur leagues, then the door to Poland opened, and I am still here today,” he exclaims.

When asked about his fortitude in leaving Brazil for a new world, he admits that it was difficult, particularly for his family. “My mother is still a little confused, but she wants us to be close.” My father, on the other hand, who is a lot harder, advised me to pursue my dreams and my career since he was taking care of everything in Brazil.”

The changes are not restricted to a change in nation or environment: according to Leandro, football in Poland is considerably different from football in Brazil. “As someone who has played in all levels in Poland, I can attest to the fact that there are significant differences between Poland and Brazil. The crowds, the stadium… It’s not simple to have fun here. Other Brazilians in my squad assumed it would be simple to play here, but it has proven to be much more challenging. He continues, “The tactical mentality here is completely different, and the coach wants a lot.”

Idolatry and change of level with the club

Leandro is the captain and leading scorer for Radomiak Radom, and he has played in numerous tiers of Polish football. The club is now at a higher level, playing in the Ekstraklasa, the country’s top tier. And one of those responsible for all of this was a Brazilian from Andradina.

“If I reflect back on all that has happened since I came in Poland, I could never have predicted that I would go through what I have. Nowadays, it’s even unusual to see a player commit to a club for an extended period of time. In general, he comes in a location, performs well for two to three years, and then departs. I’m grateful for my persistence. I’ve lived in Poland for so long that I’m starting to forget certain Portuguese terms.”

Despite his amnesia and the growing pronounced “gringo” accent, he ensures that a portion of his heart is still in Brazil. Leandro finds it tough to consider returning home, but he does not rule it out.

“Of course, I want to return to Brazil; it’s a nation I like, and I miss its culture and cuisine.” “I’m from Corinthians, and if everything goes well, I’d want to defend the colors of Corinthians one day,” he admits.

However, this is very improbable. For Radomiak supporters, Leandro is regarded as a hero. For example, he just extended his contract with the club for another three seasons and said that he has already received a request from the Polish president to continue his profession after retirement by serving on the team’s board of directors. He was also recently given a special award by a local journalist.

“There is a journalist here in town who is a great supporter of the team. He often expresses his support for us and claims that I am his greatest hero, promising to write a book for me as a present. It was fantastic because he had only printed 1,900 copies and they were all sold out; people from all across Poland were requesting copies, and he now has to print more. The book includes various images and chronicles my complete football journey, with a focus on my time at Radomiak.”  

Expectations about the national team and the future in football 

Last year, Leandro Rossi became a Polish citizen, although he has yet to be selected for the national squad. Is it part of his strategy to be summoned to represent the European country’s colors?

“Are you sure I’m 33 years old?” I’m not saying I’ll never be called up to the Polish national team, but I’m a very grounded person. On a daily basis, I need to perform a good job and wait for a chance. Some of our team’s games have already been reviewed by the Poland coach… Perhaps one day? If the occasion arises, I would gladly agree to wear the Poland jersey,” he adds.

When asked whether he would support Brazil or Poland in a match between the two teams in this year’s World Cup in Qatar, he chuckles. “I want to win if I’m picked, don’t I?” But a draw with Brazil would suffice,” the striker quips.

Leandro has spent 10 seasons with Radomiak Radom, but the team has yet to accomplish their most cherished goal: the title of Polish champion in the first flight. The Brazilian feels that reaching the top two in the current season would be challenging, but he expects to win the championship in the following years.

“No one thinks we are in fifth place in the competition today, but we are playing wonderful football and have good players, such as the Brazilians who have just come.” This year, we’re fighting for fourth place, but God willing, one day we’ll win this coveted crown.”

Polish life and tips for young athletes

Leandro is married to a Polish lady, and their first child was born in the European nation this year. He is already conversant in the local language and has been used to the country’s cultural contrasts from Brazil. Does he already have a Polish accent rather than a Brazilian one?

“There are moments when that is the case. I adapted to the culture here, which is quite different from my own. Brazilians believe I’m more Polish than Brazilian, according to them. You have no choice but to adjust to the changes. For example, the beans here have nothing in common with Brazilian beans, yet we’ve become used to them. To be honest, I’m more Polish than Brazilian now.”

For children who are just beginning to play soccer, Leandro emphasizes the value of never giving up on one’s aspirations, while also emphasizing the need of not falling behind in the tough competition. “We go awful if we don’t devote ourselves.” Football nowadays is incredibly active and puts a lot of strain on the body. So, all I can tell the youngsters is that they must take care of themselves,” he says.

The full interview can be seen in the video above and on our YouTube channel, along with many more intriguing anecdotes and even Polish word suggestions.

Fast game:

  1. Team of the heart: Corinthians
  2. Soccer idol: Ronaldo “Phenomenon”
  3. Best Career Goal: Goal against Pogon Szczecin (October 2021)
  4. Best game: Against Pogon Szczecin (October 2021)
  5. Worst Loss: In 2020 when we were eliminated in the playoffs to move up to the top division

Off the field: 

  1. Family: Everything
  2. Bosom friend: Myrian and Rafael
  3. Favorite food: Barbecue
  4. Favorite song: Sertanejo (‘Synonyms’)
  5. City you liked the most: Radom, Poland