INTERVIEW: Joao Pedro on happiness, his heroes and Saudi Arabian cuisine

Al Taawoun have been one of this season’s great surprise packets, currently sitting fourth and in position to return to the continental stage next season.

Brazilian Joao Pedro has been a large part of their success this season, with his 10 goals making him the club’s leading scorer after he arrived earlier this campaign from UAE outfit Al Wahda.

No stranger to the Roshn Saudi League, having spent two seasons with Al Fateh between 2017 and 2019, the 31-year-old has also played in his native Brazil, as well as Spain, Portugal and the UAE.

But it is in Saudi Arabia that he is finding himself at home now. We caught up with the master marksman to learn a little more about what makes him tick.

On his favourite virtue

“My favourite virtue is never give up. I think that, from where I come from and, thank God, things have happened the way they have, I never really gave up. There was never any moment where I thought of stopping or thought that I wanted to give up. I always moved forward despite the hardships and, thank God, I am here today.”

On what he appreciates most in his friends

“Being with them every day. Being honest with them, but also being able to joke around with them. Being serious when one needs to be serious and joke around when it’s time to joke around. Their willpower is something I appreciate, too. This also encourages me and brings us together and helps us walk on the same path.”

On how he defines happiness

“I think happiness is being with the people that we love, and doing what you love. I think that is happiness. Also, going on the correct path. I think that’s happiness in a nutshell.”

On what he would be if he wasn’t a footballer

“Honestly, I never stopped to think about it. I think I would have been in the sports industry as I love it. So, if I wasn’t a footballer, I would be something working in any type of sport.”

On his heroes in life

“I think the heroes in my life are… well, I can’t say anything less than my mum and dad, of course. They have always fought for me until today. I’m grateful that they’re always by my side and I’m extremely lucky to have them by my side.”

On his favourite food in Saudi Arabia

“You’ve got the grilled chicken they do with rice. We eat it with our hands. There’s some pasta on it, too, and we eat… for me, that’s grilled chicken. I don’t know its name, but I eat quite a bit during the week. It’s one of the things I eat most in Saudi.”

On his favourite places in Saudi Arabia

“I think there are two: Jeddah and Riyadh. I really like Jeddah. I know Riyadh is creating many new things right now, which I believe is pretty cool. I went to visit with my family, and they loved the Boulevard. You’ve got quite a few streets there that are great.”