Cassio was a cult hero at Adelaide United since his arrival from an experience in the MLS.
Now he’s giving back to the game he loves through his own academy.
JH: What was your life like growing up in Brazil?
C: That was probably my best times in football to be honest – when you’re a kid and you just play for fun, you’re not expecting anything to happen.
I was pretty lucky to play with friends, we played street football, bare foot, this sort of stuff, beach football – we all loved it back home.
JH: You don’t see too much of that in Australia, so when you came across how different did you find the culture with football?
C: It was a bit of a shock at the beginning, especially with the grassroots and the younger kids.
You don’t see anyone play outside, you rarely see it.
They usually play just in club situations, you have to pay to play.
For me, that was very strange to be honest when you have to pay to play, when you have a lot of parks around Australia, not just Adelaide, but all over the country.
Why don’t you get a few friends and go and kick around, that’s how you learn the most when you’re a kid.
When you get older, of course you have to go into some structure and coaching, but when you’re very little, you need to do that.
I found it really strange when I came, but now I’ve been here for 12 years, so you get involved and you start to understand a bit more about the culture.
JH: What was playing club football in Brazil like, and your eventual move to Major League Soccer in America?
C: I would say it was different between Brazilian football and American football, I would put America and Australia at a very similar league level.
The MLS and A-League are very similar, but I’d have the MLS just above just because they have a lot more foreigners, which can help the competition a lot more.
They can sign whoever they want, they can sign big players from Argentina, Brazil, everywhere around the world.
That was a big difference between those two.
But, I personally liked the MLS even though I only stayed for six months.
JH: You then moved across to Adelaide United. What did you know about Australia before you came across, and what drew you to the Reds?
C: I knew nothing, the only thing I knew was Romario, and Romario was playing here.
That was exactly the time they contacted me.
I had another offer to go to Europe at the time, but it wasn’t the greatest, but then I thought about the experience to come over to Australia…I always heard it was a great country.
They started to ask questions to Romario and one of his best mates, they said all great things about Adelaide, the country, the lifestyle.
In terms of the club, I had some good feedback as well, and that’s how I decided to take a risk and I don’t regret it one bit.
JH: How many sacrifices do you have to make moving from country to country?
C: My first move I was 21, and then I moved interstate which was a big move for me, because I was 21 and then you’re suddenly playing for the biggest club in Brazil (Flamengo).
When I first moved to Mexico, that’s when I first thought, yep, this is serious.
If you want to move forward in football, it’s very serious.
You enjoy what you do, and suddenly when those things happen you start taking it seriously.
I thought that’s what I want in my life.
I moved to a lot of countries to play, people a lot of a big deal out of it, but they don’t understand how good it is for your life afterwards.
For example now, I’m four years retired, and all those experiences, I don’t regret going to any country I moved to.
All the experiences I gave to my family, my kids and my wife and the people that came to visit.
A lot of people just complain for nothing, the more chances you have, you have to take it the best way you can.
JH: You became a cult hero with Adelaide United, and you won a Club Champion award. How did that feel?
C: My first year here, I won the Club Champion award, but unfortunately we didn’t make the finals.
My personal opinion about myself playing was really positive, I also won the Players’ Player, which was really impressive for me in my first year.
I did the best I could, it was very rewarding that year even though we didn’t make the finals.
JH: You played in the Asian Champions League plenty of times with Adelaide. What was that experience like?
C: That’s what I referred too about travel, that experience, not only on field and off the field, you get better relationships with the players, you get to know the coaches a bit better.
That for me, that was one of the experiences I hold forever in my life, and I think we can easily say it was one of the best moments the club had, for the players and the coaches too.
I think it was very positive, and after that tournament, we took the A-League name out to the other countries, especially in Asia.
JH: You played in a couple of grand finals with Adelaide. What were those experiences like?
C: It was great in 2008-09 against (Melbourne) Victory, unfortunately we lost that one.
Even though there was a bit of controversy there, but anyway.
It was very good, unfortunately we couldn’t win that one, but I believe always getting in finals is always positive and is always good for a football player.
Everyone comes to watch you, everyone wants to get into those moments in your career.
JH: Much further down the track, how hard was it to leave Adelaide United and retire?
C: To be honest, I was already preparing myself for that moment, but unfortunately it came about in a bad way.
For me, honestly, I was okay with it and I was already preparing myself, but if I could choose, I would choose a better way to finish.
Either playing one more year, maybe winning something, or choosing a farewell game.
It’s a part of football, and I’m really enjoying my life after football.
JH: Tell us a bit about your academy, and how did it all get started?
C: I always wanted to do my own football academy, at about 30, 31-years-old, I started to think about retiring, and then as soon as I finished, I already had everything planned.
That made it easier for me to jump in, because I had it all planned, even though it’s a lot harder than people think, because you have so much work to do, you have the coaching, all the kids, the groups, the coaches, the admin, the payments, the sponsors and yourself.
I have a few people helping me out, but I’m the main one, so I actually enjoy myself, and I love what I do.
JH: You did some coaching with Pembroke. What was that like?
C: I’ve done Pembroke for four months, they approached me and asked if I could get involved to help the high school.
I went there, I loved it, and suddenly I lived on the other side of town, so I couldn’t do it anymore.
I jumped into another school, Nazareth High School, I’ve been there for three and a half years now, which for me, it’s close, my kids go there, it’s been very good, and they give me all the freedom to whatever I want and to help the coaching and the developing of the kids.
JH: Throughout your whole career, what was your proudest moment?
C: The proudest moment I had was to get to know the places and the people I’ve met during the course of my career.
That is easiest the proudest thing.
On the field, I can say when I won the championship with Flamengo when I was 20, there was 80,000 people watching.
That was probably the best on field moment for me.