Real Madrid superstar Marcelo has named his grandfather as the single most important person in his football journey, a man the Brazil left-back says was "willing to sacrifice everything" to ensure his grandson's dream came true.
In an entry for the The Players' Tribune, Marcelo recounted how his grandfather would drive him to play futsal, but later sold that car to help the young player pay for bus tickets when he started travelling further at the age of 8 or 9 and fuel became too expensive.
"In his eyes, I never made a mistake. It was hilarious," the three-time Champions League winner said.
"He would come home from watching my matches, and he'd tell my father, 'You have to come watch Marcelo! What he did today? Oh my God. It was magic. Incredible!'
"But my father hardly ever got to see me play because he always had to work. He probably thought my grandfather was crazy. The funniest part was when I played like sh*t and we lost. He'd just shrug and say, 'Ehh, whatever. You'll figure it out later.'
"He made me feel like I was Ronaldo when I was like nine years old. I swear to God, I would walk into the house with my chest out, like, 'Yes, I am a footballer'."
Later on, Marcelo was picked up by Fluminense. But that came with its own problems as the club's training ground was almost a two-hour journey from his home. Yet his grandfather, who had by this time bought a new car after a win on less than legal 'animal lottery', convinced the teenage talent to stick it out after the travelling became too much.
"After a while of going back and forth from Rio to Xerém, I was just worn out. I felt like a slave to football. I saw all my friends back home going to the beach and enjoying life, and all I did was train," Marcelo recalled.
"One day my grandfather came to pick me up and I told him, 'I'm done. I'm quitting and coming home'. He said, 'Marcelo, just stay calm. You can't quit now. I have to see you playing at the Maracanã one day'. That really hit my heart. I told him, 'Alright, I'll play another week'.
"Eventually, I gave up on giving up. Two years later, with my grandfather in the stands, I walked out onto the pitch at the Maracanã with Fluminense's first team. He knew. He had been betting on me from Day One, and he just knew."
After two seasons with Fluminense's first-team, Marcelo signed for Real and was blown away by the star studded names that he suddenly found himself sharing a dressing room with, including his idol, Roberto Carlos, a player he considered 'God'.
"[The Galacticos] could have eaten me alive," he said. "But let me tell you something important about Real Madrid. It is a special club in this way. Roberto Carlos walked up to me the first day and said, “Here's my phone number. You need anything - anything - you call me."
"My first Christmas in Madrid, he invited my wife and I over to his house with his whole family. This guy is my idol, and we're fighting for the same position at left back.
''Most guys wouldn't have done that for the young kid. But that's Roberto Carlos. He was confident. That's the sign of a true man. I took inspiration from him on the pitch, too. Roberto Carlos would go up and down that left wing like a beast."