Picture: Adelaideunited.com.au

In part three of our Original Rivalry series, we spoke with one of the greatest Adelaide United players of all time and fan favourite, Cássio. He talked us through why the rivalry means so much to the city.

In the wake of a diabolical end to the 2006/2007 season, Adelaide United needed reinforcements.

Every left sided fullback in the club had departed, leaving a hole in the Adelaide back four.

To combat this, United brought in a Brazilian by the name of Cássio which would turn out to be one of the most crucial signings in the history of the club.

The left footer would go on to become one of the club’s all-time greats, taking home multiple club champion awards and becoming a true fan favourite for his attacking style of play.

In Cássio, Adelaide had found a star and in Adelaide, Cássio had found a home.

He quickly warmed to the city and his passion for the club showed on the pitch with his attitude and will to win second to none.

It should come as no shock, then, that getting a win over rivals Melbourne Victory meant everything to him.

“Every time you play the game, the players go onto the field and I can guarantee you they’re going to go with that extra bit to try and get the win,” he said.  

“I’m not saying other games you don’t but this game definitely, we can say that the players want to step up and get the win for the fans, for the city and for the supporters.

“The best thing is when you walk the next day and you go to a coffee shop or somewhere else and people are just talking about it which is a great thing.

“That’s a thing which is something which sticks in the players mind.”

Arriving just after it happened, Cássio was able to feel the full force of the 6-0 defeat.

He believes that you can trace back the origin of the Original Rivalry to that game as well as a second grand final showdown two seasons later.

“I wasn’t here but to be honest, the one that we lost 6-0, that sticks in my head in terms of the rivalry,” he began.

“Really the rivalry kicked off from that loss. Especially on the Adelaide side, the supporters and players and everyone at the club at the time was keen to turn that around and I believe we did after some time.

“Of course, we lost a year after in the final against them again, even though it was a controversial one but that’s another story.

“I believe definitely that’s how the rivalry started, in my view.”

Cássio celebrates with current Director of Football, Bruce Djite
Picture: Adelaideunited.com.au

Cássio is now an integral part of the South Australian football community, managing school and local club teams since retirement as well as kickstarting his own footballing academy.

His commitment to giving back to the community has been commended by United fans, perhaps nearly as much as his performances on the pitch during his playing days.

As much as Cássio helped the fans, he believes that they in turn helped him when it came to the big matches.

He credits their passion and the design of Coopers Stadium as a big reason as to why Adelaide are so tough to beat at home, particularly against Melbourne Victory.

“Coopers Stadium, or Hindmarsh Stadium as it was called in my time, I would say when it’s packed, you’re almost invincible,” Cássio said.

“Its very difficult to beat Adelaide there, even if the team has gone to shit because the supporters embrace the cause and help the team.

“When you play at Coopers, it’s very, very hard to beat Adelaide, not just for Victory but for any team.

“Marvel Stadium or Etihad, it’s changed names a few times I think, it’s a different environment because it’s a huge stadium.

“I guess for our position it’s better because being a huge stadium, the supporters aren’t as close to the field as Hindmarsh and Central Coast where the fans are close to the pitch and can help the home team.

“Even though Melbourne Victory supporters are very strong, they come, they support, they sing, they do everything, it was still a great surface and I always enjoyed playing there.

“We always felt pretty good, pretty comfortable but of course it can still be a tough place to play.”

Present day Victory fans will no doubt be longing for their home patch to return to being a tough place to play, but as it stands, the situation is dire.

The club is in arguably the worst position, at least on the field, as it has ever been since the inception of the competition.

Reds fans will be confident heading into the game this Saturday but Cássio is wary of Victory, stating that this would be the perfect chance for them to turn their season around.

Picture: a-league.com.au

“It’s a tough one because Adelaide’s on a good run, winning a few games in a row and Victory are in a tough situation,” he began

“Now they’re in a very difficult situation, probably the worst I’ve seen them in, so I believe it’s a dangerous situation for Adelaide too.

“They’ve got to be very aware of this game because Victory can turn things around here.

“Hopefully not, though.

“It’s a dangerous game and Adelaide need to go in with the right mentality, that it’s the toughest game of the year because for Victory it’s a do or die game.

“The situation is that if Adelaide win, the coach could lose his job or even the players.

“It’s very dangerous for Adelaide, they’ve got to be very careful but I believe they will get the win.”

The match is a landmark moment in any season but clearly, given the situation in Melbourne and with the strain on active support greater now than ever, Melbourne will be dying to get the win not only for the players and the coach but for their fans.

If anything can get either side up and about heading into the game, it’s the prospect of having bragging rights over the arch-rival and with so much on the line, it’s set to be a contest for the history books.

Cássio finished his career with 158 appearances for Adelaide and 11 goals from the fullback position but to him, none will be more special than his first, because it came against the enemy.

“It goes beyond football. It goes into, you know, Victorians and South Australians which is a healthy thing,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of those games. I was successful in a few and unsuccessful in others which is part of the game but the rivalry itself is really good, especially for the fans.

“The goal that I scored against them when we lost at home, I scored a free kick.

“That was my first goal that I scored against them and my first goal for the club.

“Even though it was a loss, for me, it was special.”

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