If there was a list of violent defenders drawn up, Pepe’s name would be on top. But the Madrid defender disagrees with this notion.
Pepe has a fearsome reputation of not taking any nonsense from the opposition forwards, and has even been caught committing dangerous tackles quite often.
Although the 33-year-old defender has not been a regular in the Real Madrid team this season, he has made 20 appearances. In these 20 games, Pepe is adjudged to have committed 18 fouls. Putting aside statistics, his reputation as a violent tackler is clear from this video compilation.
However, when asked about this violent side of his game, Pepe simply chose to turn a blind eye to it, saying that Barcelona forward Neymar has more bookings than him.
“People can say what they want but Neymar has more [yellow] cards than me,” said Pepe to French magazine Surface [via Marca].
In fact, Pepe even goes on to rationalise his statement by saying that a club as big as Real Madrid would never have signed him if he was the violent player that fans and critics often portray him to be.
“Real is an exemplary club and if I were as crazy as they say, I would never have had the chance to play for a club like Real for so many years,” said Pepe.
The return of Pepe
At the age of 33, it was initially thought that Pepe will slowly start making way for Real Madrid’s 23-year-old star defender Rafael Varane. In fact, Varane was the first choice of former manager Rafa Benitez earlier this season. After Benitez was sacked and replaced with club legend Zinedine Zidane, it was thought that Varane would find it easier to cement his place in the starting XI ahead of Pepe. It was Zidane himself who had scouted Varane when Mourinho was the manager at Real Madrid.
However, the French World Cup winner has shown an affinity to starting with the Pepe-Ramos duo in the heart of the defence in his brief tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu. With Pepe performing well, Varane might have to work doubly hard to prove to his manager that he is finally ready to take over from Pepe.