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Iago: "Always looked forward to playing at home"

Interview ahead of final home game of the season

First Team 10.05.2024, 09:07

FC Augsburg have been without left-back Iago for more than five weeks after the defender suffered a painful blow to the foot, but he could now make his return against high-flyers VfB Stuttgart. Iago, who has already announced his departure from FCA at the end of the season, was able to take part in team training for the first time on Wednesday. The Brazilian has been at the club for five years, and looks back on his time in Augsburg in our latest interview. 

You've already announced that you will unfortunately be leaving Augsburg at the end of this season. Why did you want to get the news out so early on? 
The main reason why I'm returning to Brazil is because of my family. My wife and I live together with our two children right in the heart of Augsburg, on Maximilianstraße, and we both really like it here, but at the same time, it's also important for her to be surrounded by people from our home country again. She has struggled to fully settle in here due to the language barrier and we all know how it is: happy wife, happy life! 

Many FCA fans are sad to see you go. How do you feel about the decision? 
Our children were both born in Augsburg and things have been going well for me on the pitch as well, ever since the change of coach. It's a lot of fun, because the mood in the team and the dressing room is always positive. Marriage is all about compromise, however, and I'm also looking forward to playing for Bahia. It means a lot to me that many people have taken the time to stop me on the street to tell me that they wish I would stay. 

Bahia, where you'll soon be playing, are currently in second place after the first five matchdays of the Brasileirão season. Why did you choose Bahia? Did you have any previous connections to the club? 
No, but the club are part of the same group as Manchester City or Girona. They really want to build something here, and if everyone puts in the work, then it's not unthinkable for the club to be one of the top three clubs in Brazil two to three years from now. I really want to do my part in helping to achieve this. 

Is it true that you started out as a striker, before making the change to become a defender? 
That's true – I had a coach in Brazil that told me that I would have better chances of making it as a professional footballer if I became a left-back. I made the change and ended up making it to the Bundesliga. I really like playing on the left, so my coach clearly knew what he was talking about! 

You've lived in Germany for five years now – what did you enjoy the most about living here? 
Summers in Germany are really nice, but winter is unfortunately very long, wet and cold. I also needed some time to get used to the food, but fortunately there are two churrascaria's in Augsburg, one in Pfersee and one in Haunstetten. The Copacabana Steakhouse in Haunstetten tastes just like back home. They have Brazilian music there every Saturday and it's an all-you-can-eat place, so I highly recommend it to every meat lover. 

You didn't have an easy go of it during your first stint abroad, especially not during Covid, which was a tough time for everyone. 
Being separated from my family for such a long time was definitely extremely tough for me. You can't forget that five years ago, I was just a kid myself and had left my home to come here. Now I have kids of my own, got married and grew up in Augsburg. Even if the last years haven't always been easy, they definitely played a part in shaping me into a responsible husband, father and person. I've also been able to grow as a player, especially since Jess Thorup took charge. 

If you knew before you made the decision to return to Brazil how the team would develop under Jess Thorup, would you have made the same decision to leave? 
To be honest, it would have made it a much harder decision, but in the end I would have made the same choice, because I owe it to my family. 

You've featured in 99 Bundesliga and six DFB-Pokal games so far. Do you still remember your first goal? 
Of course I do, it was on 13th December 2019 in Hoffenheim. I was very happy to score my first goal in Germany, even though we went on to lose 4-2. I also know that my most recent goal came against Wolfsburg. And, I also know that I made my debut against Leverkusen and – if things go well – then my final game for FCA will also be against Bayer. Coming full circle, so to speak. 

Will you add another goal to your tally? 
I have to! Maybe I can say goodbye to the amazing FCA fans with a goal in my 100th game on Friday against VfB Stuttgart. 

What do the fans mean to you? 
FCA fans haven't always seen great performances from us over the last five years. Regardless, they always support us and are so incredibly loud that I always enjoyed playing at home. I'd really like to be able to say goodbye to them by playing well, and if I'm able to score, then that would be the cherry on top. 

You featured seven times for the Brazil U20s and U23s. The Seleção enjoys a very special place in the hearts of everyone in Brazil. 
The biggest dream for every Brazilian footballer is to one day play for our country. If I'm able to impress with strong performances at Bahia, then it might open some more doors for me. I haven't given up on this dream; after all, I'm still only 27 years old. 

You also have Italian citizenship. Did you ever want to try your luck in Serie A?
I've never really had any contact to Italian clubs and didn't ever really plan on playing in Serie A. If I had to pick my favourite team from there, then I'd probably say AC Milan. But like I've mentioned, I'll be playing for Bahia for the next three years.  

We're hosting this season's surprise package, VfB Stuttgart, on Friday. They won 3-0 against us in the first half of the season, and you weren't able to feature due to a thigh injury. 
That's another reason why I really want to be able to play this time around, in order to help us get a better result. Stuttgart were below us in the table last season, but they are playing incredible football this season and have already qualified for the Champions League. But, we're playing at home and if the team and the fans stick together, then we will be able to end the season on a high with a win. 

What's your score prediction? 
A 2-0 win for us! 

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