As only foreign captain in K League, Daegu FC legend Cesinha looking to lead by example

NAMHAE, South Korea– As the only non-Korean captain in South Korean football this season, Cesinha, a Brazilian legend for Daegu FC, knows a lot of eyes will be on him.

After staying out of the relegation zone with a late push in 2022, Daegu FC, considered a middling squad this year, will look to start afresh. To that end, they handed the captain’s armband to the best foreign player in club history.

“There is a lot of pressure that comes with this armband. I am grateful for the faith that my teammates and coaches have shown me,” Cesinha told reporters at a press conference Wednesday evening in Namhae, Daegu’s training camp site located some 315 kilometers south of Seoul.

“Both on and off the field, I must set good example and be a responsible man,” the 33-year-old added.

Cesinha was realistic when discussing Daegu’s chances for 2023, saying while a championship may be out of reach, a top-four finish is certainly possible.

“We actually don’t have a deep squad, and we don’t have the financial means to acquire big-name players,” he said. “But we want to be a pesky team. We won’t back down easily against richer clubs. Personally, I hate losing to anyone. Winning a title may be difficult realistically, but nothing is impossible. I think we’re good enough to finish third or fourth.”

Cesinha has been as consistent as they come over the past four years. He earned a spot on the year-end K League 1 Best XI every year from 2019 to 2022, and was a finalist for the MVP award in 2019 and 2020.

“Whether it’s a place on the Best XI, a goal scoring title, an assist title or an MVP trophy, I’d love to win an award,” Cesinha said. “Last year, I went through some difficult times, and I had some mental struggles. This year, as team captain, I want to make sure I won’t go through the same issues.”

Cesinha has been with Daegu since 2016, when they were toiling in the second-tier K League 2. He first emerged as an offensive force in 2019, which coincided with the opening of the team’s new home stadium, DGB Daegu Bank Park.

Cesinha has been so beloved in the city that supporters have been clamoring for a statue honoring him to be placed outside the stadium once his career is done.

“I’ve been hearing those talks for quite some time. If that does happen, I’d be so honored,” Cesinha said. “I hope fans will pick the design for me. And even after I leave Daegu, I will come visit just to see my statue.”

But that’s far down the road for the new captain.

“I don’t know how long I am going to be here, but I want to be around as long as possible and keep writing new history,” Cesinha said. “This club is my family. I will never forget all the things I’ve accomplished with our supporters.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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