This Wednesday, Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt face each other in search of the European Super Cup, a clash between the champions of the Champions League and the Europa League from last season. Among the Brazilians involved in the decision, one is still little known on the national scene: Lucas Silva Mello. Or more simply Tuta, as he is known.
nicknamed like the former striker with stints at Fluminense, Flamengo, Palmeiras and Grêmio, the 23-year-old defender passed through São Paulo’s base before arriving at Frankfurt in 2019. Last season, he was one of the highlights of the German club, with 38 matches and four goals. Even though he was on the other side of the field, the athlete did not spare praise for his fellow Merengues.
— We don’t have much contact, but I’m happy to see other Brazilian players at a high quality level. I really admire the work of everyone: Militão, Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Casemiro. I am very honored to be able to compete in a Super Cup against them.
The ge will follow Real Madrid vs Eintracht Frankfurt in real time from 16:00 (Brasília time) this Wednesday
Tuta in action for Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-final of the Europa League, against West Ham – Photo: Getty Images
— Expectations for this type of game are always very high. Our team is very motivated, wanting to start the season with the Supercup title. All of the squad, even the new players who arrived, are working so that we can have the best possible preparation for this game – said the defender to the ge.
Difficult start in football and the Cup
Tuta took his first steps in football at the age of six, when he started to attend a society school in São Paulo, in Butantã, west of São Paulo. There, the youngest of Fernanda’s three children met Marcelo Hernani, his first coach. It was he who, years later, when Tuta was already in Pequeninos do Jockey, convinced the defender’s mother not to give up on the boy’s career.
— My mother was at a stage where she was already very tired, we were in a very big rush. She no longer saw the strength to continue there, she did not see a reason to continue in football. And this coach said “No, Dona Fernanda. Follow him there, because he has a lot of future”, said Tuta.
— He put us in an opportunity that was the best of my life, because he received a call from a coach from São Paulo, from Cotia, calling him to help with the training of a sieve. My mother took the last of her strength and took me in this sieve for a month. In the midst of 30, 40 children, I was chosen.
Tuta was champion with São Paulo of the SP Junior Football Cup, in 2019 — Photo: Marcos Ribolli
At Tricolor Paulista’s base, Tuta, who arrived as a defensive midfielder, started to play as a defender, and it worked. In 2018, he won the Campeonato Brasileiro de Aspirantes, the Copa do Brasil under-20 and the Supercopa do Brasil under-20. But it was in 2019, in his last year at São Paulo, that the defender won the Copinha by defeating Vasco in the final, alongside Anthony, Gabriel Sara among others.
— The title crowned a passage through the base of São Paulo that we see has a lot of history. Copinha is an internationally famous competition, many people from all over the world know about it. I am very happy to have been part of this achievement,” he recalled.
Arrival in European football
Tuta was announced by Eintracht Frankfurt in January 2019, a few days after lifting the Copinha cup. The Brazilian, however, was stopped for four months at the German club and was loaned to Kortrijk, from Belgium. His professional debut in November of that year, against Anderlecht, in a 0-0 draw. Despite the wait, the defender always kept his cool.
— In my first season, what I felt the most was the intensity of the game and the physicality. The number of games played here, always having to focus on tactical disposition, was the most complicated.
— I knew that I was there to be able to develop myself, to be able to play my first game as a professional. I spent four months working, getting ready for when I had the opportunity, I knew I was going to be ready. And so it was. After the debut, I had a very good sequence of games that helped me in my development.”
Tuta in a match for Kortrijk, from Belgium – Photo: Getty Images
After 18 games and a goal for the Belgian team, Tuta returned to Frankfurt in 2020. With more experience, the Brazilian started the season on the bench, but gradually conquered his space in the starting lineup, having worn the German shirt in 20 matches out of the 36 played. But it was in the 2021/2022 season that the defender lived his best.
Europa League, the first professional title
Absolute starter in the team led by coach Oliver Glasner, Tuta became one of the key pieces of the team in Eintracht Frankfurt’s undefeated campaign in the Europa League, renewing his contract until 2026. On the way to the cup, Frankfurt beat Real Betis, Barcelona and West Ham before reaching the grand final against Rangers.
— We had an excellent campaign, I believe, without defeats, something unusual. We put together a strategy, and in game after game things started to work out. The second game against Real Betis was very complicated. But after Barcelona, we gained a lot of confidence and conviction that we could become champions.
Tuta fighting for the ball during the Europa League final – Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters
In the decision, however, not everything went as planned. In the second half, Rangers opened the scoring after a failure by the Brazilian, who was substituted shortly thereafter. It was left to the defender, so just cheer.
I was very frustrated by the way the goal came out. Each player always seeks to do his best for the team. At that moment, I was already tired, I felt a great weariness. It was a fatality. No player would want to leave the field like that. When we tied the game, a weight came off our backs.
— Tuta, defender for Eintracht Frankfurt
Tuta kisses the Europa League cup – Photo: Getty Images
Directly from the feet of Borré, who converted the last penalty, Frankfurt returned to lift a European trophy after 41 years of waiting. With the help of the fans, protagonists of the title, Tuta and company secured a spot in the group stage of the Champions League, in addition to the chance to play in the Uefa Supercup.
— To be honest, I never imagined all this success of being champion of the Europa League in my first season, and already winning the spot in the Champions League. Not at such a close time.
— The crowd was extremely important in every game. They have this tradition of always being supportive, of always being together from the first minute to the last second. It was news to the media, but we were already used to these emotions. This title is almost 100% of them – he concluded.
Eintracht Frankfurt fans during the final with Rangers in the Europa League – Photo: Julio Muñoz/EFE