I catch a glimpse of Arthur Melo in the adidas restaurant, standing in line with his tray and looking like he’s just another adidas employee. Sporting Superstars, an adidas x Lego sweatshirt and an air of contentment, he checks out the Olympics and Marathon exhibitions currently on show. Then he jumps on a campus bike to reach the studio where we will chat about his career to date.
Arthur Melo is beaming when he sits down, “This place is so big! It’s like being in a city, a magical city,” he explains. I tend to agree. There’s a buzz back at adidas as pandemic restrictions lift and more and more people return to our World of Sports in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
Inspired to join the history makers
“I’m so impressed by the number of people working here and the technology everyone is using. It’s incredible.” What has captured his imagination most is the adidas Archive. “My favorite part of the day was the archive and seeing the athletics shoes and football boots from the olden days. Hearing about their history, how they were developed years ago, why some have short studs, others longer studs, the support and stability the famous 3-Stripes gave a running shoe, why there’s an X at the back of a shoe.”
“It was really interesting for me to see that 50, 60, 70 years ago Adi Dassler was thinking about all these things. He really was a visionary for his time, he really tried to feel everything an athlete would feel when using his shoes and then give them the best product. We are talking about a genius really.”
Football is Arthur Melo’s happy place
The more we talk, the more I can see just how much this visit means to Arthur. He lives and breathes football. He admits his first love was horses and wanted to be a cowboy and do rodeo shows, but once the round ball came into his world nothing else mattered.
Arthur Melo explains, “I’m happy at my home in Turin. I have my family with me. I’m also happy back in my native city of Goiania – my friends are there, I have great memories, but honestly, I’m most happy on a football pitch playing a game. The energy I get from a match is the best thing in the world. It can be any game, in any stadium, it’s the best thing that can happen to me. I take so much from the fans, it’s something I really missed during the pandemic and now that they are back, I’ve really recognized just how much energy and inspiration they bring to us players.”
As Arthur Melo soaks up the history of adidas and the vibes of our newly returned staff, he recognizes how satisfying it is to become part of an iconic team.
“The history of a club is really important to me. It’s really motivational. As a kid you always dream of playing for big clubs and, of course, your national team. I followed all the big clubs, so when I progressed as a player and started making the team lineups in Gremio, Barcelona, Juventus, Brazil, it was amazing. It’s just so gratifying to now be part of such a history and have all my hard work pay off.”
Making it to the top and playing with the best clubs in the world brings immense joy, but as Arthur Melo points out also a weight of expectations.
“You put pressure on yourself to achieve those goals. You also look around at the people around you who have invested in you, who believe in you. The hard part comes when I don’t live up to those expectations…not only do I disappoint myself, but also those around me.”
“What I try to do is focus on the positive things that happen and run with those. These days we need to know how to deal with the bad things, the anxiety that can come with pressure. From my point of view, pressure is actually a good thing. You just need to know how to control it. If it starts to take over it instills fear, and that’s not good. Fear can eat away at your confidence on the pitch. That’s why footballers must be able to deal with the pressure our job brings.
Dealing with feedback
Arthur Melo won the Copa Liberatores with Gremio in 2017 and followed that up with a Copa America medal in 2019 for Brazil. It was a quick rise to the top and brought a level of attention the midfielder wasn’t used to. “When I was around 19, 20 years old I read everything about me, the papers, Twitter, the comments on Instagram, but I came to the conclusion that it was better for me not to look at them.
“When I played well in a match, I came away thinking I was the best of the best and then when I had a bad game, I read the critics and felt I was the worst player in the world. Of course, neither was right. I was never the best nor the worst, so I decided to stop reading.
“I’m critical of myself, I have people around me who give me honest feedback, they tell me if my performance was good or bad, and that’s how I can get better. Newspaper reporters don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. They don’t have the full picture, so their opinions are not fully informed. But overall, I accept criticism and feedback to be better.”
It’s time for him to give some feedback to our product designers and athlete services so we wrap up the chat. Arthur Melo jumps back on the bike. As he rides away, he blends in with the crowd on his way to another part of the adidas World of Sports.