EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Cano is Haaland’s main rival for the status of world football top scorer

Meet the Argentine striker who is a true hero in Brazil. The goalscorer talked to Sambafoot about his impressive numbers and the Copa Libertadores semi-final with Fluminense
Josué Seixas
2023-09-26 21:38:40

Argentine striker Germán Cano is a superstar in Brazil. The 35-year-old conquered hearts and minds in 2020, when he started his stint at Vasco da Gama, and then became the natural successor of former Seleção number 9 Fred at Fluminense.

He shares the same dream as the Tricolor fans: they want to conquer the Copa Libertadores, a title they still have to put on their shelves. For Cano, it can mean that his place as an idol will be unquestionable as he is one of the faces of the team"s success in recent seasons.

Cano and Manchester City"s Erling Haaland, in fact, are tied with most goals in 2023. Both have scored 33 until now and are way above others, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé.

In an exclusive interview with Sambafoot, Germán Cano talked about his aspirations, following Argentina in the Qatar World Cup and of course how he manages to keep scoring with such high pace.

“Yes, I do follow the rankings. I watch a lot of European football. Being among these incredible players who play so well and have won everything with their teams is a pleasure for me. It"s a reward for my work, my daily effort, and my contribution to the team on the field. I hope to continue this way, continue helping the team and scoring goals," he said.

VIDEO: The interview with Germán Cano, in Portuguese.  

“I"ve never tried to reach a specific goal mark. I enjoy the moment, enjoy each game and then at the end of the season, I start looking at the numbers and see how far I"ve come. But surpassing 44 goals is difficult because that was my record last year. It"s not easy to have a season with 44 goals. But I"m always prepared for anything; I have a lot of experience. If it"s possible to surpass that and help the team succeed, it"s even better."


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I would like you to talk about your identification with the Fluminense fans, which happened so quickly and so well, right?

It"s a very good moment in my career. I think last year, being able to be part of Fluminense, to arrive at Fluminense, to do my best, to also play alongside Fred, who was in his last moments before retiring. So, for me, it was a great challenge. And when I arrived, everyone welcomed me very well here, everyone showed me the love and support that I need to do what I do on the field. So, I think it all happened very naturally. The connection with everyone here was very good, including our fans, because I started scoring many goals. So, I think the love and respect were very strong. As time went by, it was a great honor for me to score a goal at Maracanã, to be part of the fans and to continue making history here. I know it"s still a short time, but it"s a beautiful moment that I"m enjoying and hopefully I can continue to do so and bring a lot of joy to our supporters. It"s a beautiful moment, a beautiful moment that will always be remembered, especially during his farewell, a moment that meant a lot to him in the last few months. Because he was about to retire, this moment was beautiful, it will always be in my heart. When I arrived here, my relationship with him from the very beginning was very good, very beautiful, very natural. And he welcomed me very well. And then we started to have an incredible friendship, both on and off the field. And for me, representing him on the field was also a big challenge, so I think I"m taking advantage of it very well to achieve great things here.

Do you feel this love from other fans as well, outside of the Fluminense supporters?

Yes, I receive a lot of love through social media as well, even when I go to the mall. Everyone wants to take pictures, Flamengo fans, Vasco fans, Botafogo fans, everyone. I have no problem with anyone. So, I think I have earned a lot of respect here, and that is very important to me.

What is your relationship like with Fernando Diniz? We see him now with the Brazilian national team as well, so there were higher expectations.

I worked with Fernando at Vasco. In the last three months at Vasco, I worked with him and got to know a wonderful person with a big heart, always trying to help the football players. In my case, he helps me a lot. Today, our relationship is even better. We have a very good connection on and off the field. And he is part of my process here at Fluminense, which has been very good. The relationship is very nice because every day I learn a lot from him.

Do you dream a lot of winning the Copa Libertadores?

I"m calm, obviously we always think about it. We know that our opponent now, Inter, is very difficult. Everything that Inter represents in history is great, so we have to keep our feet on the ground to be able to win this trophy. We know that everything is very balanced. The four teams are playing well, they are strong teams, both at home and away. We are competing and we came here with the same discourse of competing. As time goes by, we find more, as Fernando [Diniz] says, what we have to do within ourselves to improve on the field and there we can continue to progress slowly. We know it"s difficult, there are three finals left to win this trophy.

John Kennedy gave an interview saying that you have a hunger for goals, a desire to score big goals. Can you talk about that?

We have to have that mentality of scoring goals. When I wake up, I already think about scoring goals. When we start training, we visualize what we"re going to do on the field, what we need to do in training. I think every time I try to visualize the game and then score goals, every time the opportunity presents itself, I"m focused on that.

For example, your goal against Olímpia at Maracanã wasn"t the type of goal you train for. It was an opportunity where the ball was there and you made a volley…

I saw the ball coming and tried to position myself against the Olímpia defender. The ball was at waist height and I managed to shoot with my back turned, like a volley. I think it"s important to have different skills to score inside the box. It"s a very effective skill for scoring goals.

The fans really enjoy it. In these two seasons, you"ve scored goals in all sorts of ways – left foot, header, long-range shots, right foot. It"s really exciting. Is there anything missing?

A bicycle kick.

Is that just a joke or do you have a special request?

No, it"s just a joke with my teammates and the press team. But if the opportunity arises, I would welcome it.

We often see lists where you are ranked as the top scorer in the world, surpassing Haaland, Benzema, Mbappé, Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, everyone. Do you follow these rankings? How do you feel about it?

Yes, I do follow them. I watch a lot of European football. Being among these incredible players who play so well and have won everything with their teams is a pleasure for me. It"s a reward for my work, my daily effort, and my contribution to the team on the field. I hope to continue this way, continue helping the team and scoring goals.

Do you also have the goal of surpassing 44 goals, which is your highest number of goals in a season?

No, it"s not a goal because I"ve never… I"ve never tried to reach a specific goal. I enjoy the moment, enjoy each game and then at the end of the season, I start looking at the numbers and see how far I"ve come. But surpassing 44 goals is difficult because that was my record last year. It"s not easy to have a season with 44 goals. But I"m always prepared for anything; I have a lot of experience. If it"s possible to surpass that and help the team succeed, it"s even better.

And your celebration, the famous “L" sign? Can you talk more about that invention and how it came about by talking with your wife?

Since my time playing in Colombia, I celebrated a goal with the letter “L" for my son Lorenzo. And when I came here to Brazil, I continued with the same celebration. There was a whole process from 2018 until now when Leonella was born. We wanted to continue with the same celebration, so I talked to my wife about naming our daughter with an “L." It became a beautiful moment that meant a lot in my life because of what it represents and what has happened in my family. It"s a very special moment that I enjoy every day and every time I score a goal because everything is for them.

It was very interesting to name her Leonella as a tribute to Lionel Messi and Antonella. You were at the World Cup and saw Argentina become champions…

Yes, we went to the World Cup in Qatar with my wife and my son. My wife got pregnant there during the World Cup. We became world champions for the first time while watching a World Cup live as a family. It was my first time too. Many beautiful things happened that led us to name her Leonella – Leo for Messi and Nella for Antonella, his wife. Everything worked out fine; my wife accepted it. It was a difficult moment because she didn"t want it at first, but gradually we convinced her until she agreed on the day before giving birth. On the day she was born, she agreed to name her Leonella.

It took nine months to convince her?

Practically the whole process, nine months.

You played in other leagues here in South America… Do you think the Brasileirão and the national competitions here in Brazil are the strongest or is it impossible to make such a comparison?

I think the strongest competitions are between Argentina and Brazil, for everything they represent, for their history. I think they are two very good leagues that I like a lot, I really like Brasileirão, I really like this scenario, playing every three or four days. Around the world, sometimes a week goes by and it"s already too long for me, since I"m used to playing every three or four days. So, staying a week like that, extended, for me, is strange.

And in Argentina, football too, the fans too, pull the players a lot, the environment is very good. It"s all very similar to what it is here in Brazil. So, two very good leagues.

I saw that your family, if I"m not mistaken, supports River. If you faced Boca Juniors in the Libertadores final and won, would it be an even greater joy?

My siblings are fans of River. Then I went to play in Argentina against River. My family was on the field. It was beautiful, but they were cheering for Fluminense. Now I don"t know who will reach the final. I can"t say because I don"t know. All four teams can reach this final. So first we have to pass Inter.

You said you like to play twice a week. Can you imagine yourself playing for many more years?

Yes, I can imagine. But I don"t know what will happen in the future. Football changes very quickly. I want to play and can play until I"m 40 years old. Five more years since I"m 35 years old. Playing five more years would be great. Definitely. It"s difficult. There are many things that can happen. I don"t know. I prefer to live day by day. Here I have two more years on contract. A very beautiful moment. I don"t know what will happen. I hope I can play as much as possible. Because I like to train, I like to play. Being still like this will also be difficult. At this moment, I don"t know what will happen either. How I will act, what will happen. There are many things that I have to analyze that I haven"t analyzed yet. Later we will see what will happen.

And what is your routine there in Rio de Janeiro? Outside of this training and playing environment, what do you do? Do you like to watch TV shows, movies?

Now that Leonella was born it is very difficult to do all that. Just attend to her and try to give all the support to my wife. And to be able to help. It"s time now to sleep little because she was born almost four weeks ago. We are practically four weeks without sleeping. It"s part of the process of the family. So we"ll put leisure aside now. I have time to rest a little. I arrive here, train, and from here go home to rest a little and stay there with my wife. And with my children, to enjoy them a little.

There was a big request for you to be called up for the World Cup and it didn"t happen. But you still went to the tournament, saw Argentina become champions. You had your daughter who I think is perhaps a much greater gift than any football achievement. Do you understand not being called up?

Yes, it was OK. At that time everyone was saying that I had to be on the team. But I always stayed grounded and calm here doing my best here at Fluminense. I didn"t have this control of being able to choose. So if it had to happen, it would happen, but it didn"t. So I"m OK. I had an extraordinary season here and everyone said that I should be on the Argentina team. But I understand very well how the Argentine selection process works, there are many players playing very well, young players playing in Europe and going through a good moment. I was calm. I enjoyed that month in Qatar with my family, watching Argentina"s games, other teams" games. It was a beautiful moment that, regardless of not being called up for my team, I enjoyed it. I was very happy because it is a memory that I will never forget for everything that happened.

More than once in your career, you have expressed support for LGBT causes. In Vasco, you sent a message to Josh Cavallo, who was one of the first athletes to come out of the closet. I wanted to know why you get involved in these causes. Because we see few players doing this kind of thing, having this kind of attitude.

It"s a pleasure to support these causes because everyone should be respected, everyone should have equal opportunities, regardless of their preferences, respect is above all. That moment of the goal, of raising the flag, was very spontaneous. It arose at that moment and I did what I wanted to do. It became marked like that, and spread all over the world. It was a beautiful moment that is part of being a player and being recognized. You can do many things on social media, give advice, help some cause. It became marked like that because it is a pleasure to be able to do all this.

It is very important, especially nowadays with Brazilian players, we are seeing many cases of racism. The more players speak out against these things, the stronger the causes will become and these crimes will cease to exist.

That"s it, the word of players is very strong all over the world. I believe that if you gather all the players and try to solve something collectively, it"s very good. It"s a right path to be able to progress in society, to be able to give support to people who don"t speak anything and are afraid of many things. The player can do many things. The word of players is strong and is very recognized worldwide, so imagine if everyone joins together and can do something, some cause so great. It would be magnificent for everyone.

I wanted to know which defender has been the most difficult you have faced in your career, who guards you closer to make it difficult.

I think everyone tries today. And now that everyone knows me a little more, then everyone marks me. Before the ball arrives, they are already marking me. For me it"s much harder. I don"t know, there are many players who do their job very well. Gustavo Gómez at Palmeiras is such a player too. He reads the play very well and anticipates the effort very well and jumps very high. Yes, he is among those who can mark me.

Do you have any team you prefer to face? Do you see and say: “I want to have a great one." People say it"s Flamengo, isn"t it?

Throughout history, Flamengo is too beautiful, it"s different, the goal gives another flavor, another sensation.

Have you ever experienced a very funny or unusual story here in Brazil?

I have a story with a friend when I barely knew the country. When we got here we got together to go to a beach. Then we went by Uber and this beach didn"t have Wi-Fi or phone signal or the internet didn"t work there either. Then we stayed there on the beach every day and we had no way back since we couldn"t order an Uber. No one stopped on the street to take us either. Then my friend started hitchhiking there to see if someone would come by car to take us back home. We got a ride later because I was recognized. Someone brought us and treated us very well. We were very far from town; I think that moment was too funny.