In #FitGoals, a series in partnership with adidas Football, we delve deeper into the merging worlds of fashion and football by shining the spotlight on some of the world’s best footballers and their style off the pitch.

Footballers don’t have it easy when it comes to style. They spend the best part of the week in training wear or in enforced team suits for press events and match arrivals. Then, during the season, they spend at least 90-minutes weekly sweating profusely in matching jersey, shorts, and knee-high socks as millions look on – a challenge for even the least vain among us. Throw in the pressure of actually having to perform – and win – for a world-class team, and it's hardly surprising that, for most of the week, personal style preference is low on the list of priorities. When given the freedom of choice (and a six-figure weekly paycheck that grants you access to whatever you want) there is, unsurprisingly, a tendency to overcompensate.

But this isn’t the case for all footballers and Real Madrid linchpin Marcelo is one example. Hailing from humble beginnings, Marcelo made his debut for the Brazil national team at the tender age of 18 and left his hometown of Rio in the same year to join the revered Spanish club. Over a decade later and Marcelo has four Champions Leagues, four Club World Cups, three UEFA Super Cups, and four LaLiga titles under his belt. With such an impressive string of accolades, you’d expect the flashy clothes and attitude to match. But when we meet him, his family, and their four dogs at their home in Madrid, Marcelo proved us wrong on every level.

“I try to avoid drawing attention to myself,” he explains, “I like to look different, but without standing out too much.”

Despite being hailed by Maradona as the best left back in the world, raking in millions per year, and rubbing shoulders on and off the pitch with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Marcelo remains refreshingly down-to-earth and unfazed by all the hype that comes with being a world-class footballer. And his style reflects that.

“I see my style as very genuine. The most important thing for me is to always feel good and confident, so I like to keep it simple with casual streetwear,” he explains. “If I only have five minutes to get ready, I’ll grab jeans, a t-shirt from Guetto – a brand owned by my brother-in-law – and a sweater.”

His values are a welcome antithesis to the stereotype of the bling-flashing footballer and, beyond comfort, sustainability sits high on his lists of requirements. “What adidas is doing to help to make a better world through their collaboration with Parley for the Oceans means a lot to me.”

adidas Football and Parley for the Oceans launched an exclusive shirt made from 28 plastic bottles for Real Madrid players in 2016, and continued their collaboration this season fabricating the club’s third jersey, a coral-colored shirt inspired by the shade of healthy reefs. “The shirt is extremely comfortable to play in, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of their wider campaign.”

An aspiring footballer dreams of the day they’re picked up by one of the world’s best sports brands. Despite being with the brand for over six years, Marcelo doesn’t take it for granted: “adidas means a lot to me,” he explains. “I always want to feel comfortable and feel myself in what I wear. I was wearing adidas long before I signed to them, so I feel myself wearing them.”

Football has always been a part of street culture all over the world – Marcelo, like many professionals, started out playing on his native streets of Rio. However, it’s only in recent years that the ‘streetwear look’ and fashion brands are looking to the sport to inspire their collections. With a credible voice in both football and streetwear, adidas has embraced this crossover, bridging the gap between the two with a series of high-profile joint ventures with fashion heavyweights such as Palace, BAPE, and KITH.

During our conversation, Marcelo mentions garments from adidas’ collaboration with KITH as well as Daniel Arsham’s Futurecraft 4D sneaker, which feature frequently in his rotation. “I like a brand that can be so eclectic,” Marcelo explains.

On the pitch, Marcelo plays in adidas’ X18+ boot. The football cleat is packed full of industry-leading tech including an ultra-thin skeletal weave sock with stretch material inserts that secure the foot in place, a 3D molded heel, and a lightweight engineered tooling. “I love the color – it’s really strong, and they are really comfortable to play in,” Marcelo, who’s already tested out the new colorway, explains as his three-year-old son pulls on his pant leg to go play football in the backyard.

“It’s not easy to make good boots, but adidas really got it right.”

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