World Cup dream drives Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho

The Brazilian ended last season in fine form

Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho grew up with Brazilian compatriots Ronaldinho and Kaka as his idols and now he wants to follow in their footsteps.

He watched the every move of Ronaldinho, in particular, and marvelled at how he pulled the strings for Barcelona in his pomp.

Coutinho envisaged the day when he too could have a chance to emulate his two heroes.

An Anfield he has been given an ideal platform, and while it may be premature to be thinking about elevating him into a similar category the portents are good. The Brazil-hosted World Cup next summer is in his thoughts, and Coutinho admits it would be a dream to play in the tournament for his country.

In Brendan Rodgers he has a club manager whose 'death by football' mantra means he will enjoy a lot of possession this season.

The crucial factor will be what he does with it but on the evidence of his first four months in England and a handful of pre-season friendlies the omens are good.

Speaking about his heroes, Coutinho told Press Association Sport: "They play more or less my position and they were my inspirations as I was growing up.

"I think both of them were super-excellent players, especially when Ronaldinho played at Barcelona it was like magic.

"Every time I had a chance I would watch him because he was someone who I looked up to."

Coutinho turned 21 in June and he still has a lot to learn about English football, but he is already seen by fans as a crucial part of the the club's future.

It is a weight of expectation which does not bother a player who scored the Reds' final goal of last season at Anfield in May to cap a promising four months following his arrival from Inter Milan.

Many questioned why Rodgers had spent £8.5million on youngster who had failed to make the grade in Italy, but he quickly showed flashes of a potentially brilliant talent and his progress has continued in pre-season where he has been the club's stand-out player.

The form has singled him out as Liverpool's likely creator-in-chief going into the new Premier League season and it is a role he is more than comfortable with.

"I don't feel any extra pressure," he added ahead of the game against Stoke.

"The supporters are always there and that gives me a lot of strength to do my best for my team-mates and the club and to make the fans happy."

He knows Liverpool can be the perfect place to showcase his abilities and, with a longer-term view, could gain him enough recognition to represent his country's senior team - with the added incentive of the World Cup on home soil.

"Of course it is a dream of mine. I need to have a good season at Liverpool, take my chances here and hopefully that would give me a chance of being called up for the national team," he said.

"It would be my biggest step in football and I will do my utmost to be there."

The hustle and bustle of the Premier League may be an unlikely place for a young, slightly-built playmaker to choose to ply his trade but Coutinho welcomes the challenge.

He admits he had problems at Inter, where he moved from Vasco da Gama in 2010 aged 18, and in only his second season he was loaned out to Espanyol.

Spain seemed an ideal location for him to develop, but when Liverpool came calling he leapt at the chance - even if there was no lure of Champions League football.

"It had no weight on my consideration to come to Liverpool," he said.

"Obviously we are not where we would like to be which is playing in the Champions League - or even the Europa League - but we as players will do our best in order to be able to be playing in those competitions next season.

"It was a dream for me to play in a big team like Inter but I had tough times there and that was difficult but now my mind is at Liverpool and that is where I want to be.

"My team-mates will help me to face the future much easier, although I am well aware there will be difficult moments but I can't let my head go down - my experience in Italy has helped me.

"Because it is a different style of football and it is much more intensive and quicker here, Brazilian players have to work hard to be able to do what we need to do when we play.

"The training is hard but at a good pace and that helped me progress in my adaptation.

"And for me it is an honour to play in the same team as our captain Steven Gerrard. Everyone in Brazil watches European football and they enjoy watching players like him."

PA

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine