Former Real Madrid defender Pepe has slammed his former club by claiming that Los Blancos was as “a central defenders’ graveyard” following his return to boyhood club FC Porto.
The 35-year-old was released from his contract with Turkish giants Beşiktaş last month, and it was rumoured for some time that Pepe was vying for a move back to Portugal before he was unveiled at the Estádio do Dragão on January 8.
Reflecting on his 10-year spell back at Real Madrid, whom he joined from Porto in 2007, Pepe claimed that it was difficult to be a centre-back for Los Blancos back then, claiming that no one could establish themselves at the Santiago Bernabéu.
“Real Madrid was a central defenders’ graveyard,” Pepe said, quoted by Record. “All of the defenders who had recently come to the club struggled to secure a regular place. But Porto prepared me for that.
“I spent 10 seasons in Madrid. Some great central defenders joined Madrid but none of them managed to establish themselves as I did.”
Pepe’s return to Porto has allowed him to link up once against with former Real Madrid teammate, Iker Casillas.
The defender joked that the Spain legend still hadn’t learnt Portuguese despite moving to the club in 2015, something that he himself was teased for when he first moved to the Spanish capital.
“It was great to see him again after all this time. He looked so happy and seeing that makes me very happy,” Pepe continued. “When I first arrived in Spain, he asked me if I spoke Spanish and I replied that I didn’t.
“On my first day back here, I asked Iker if he speaks Portuguese and he told me that he understands it but feels a bit self-conscious speaking. So you’re better off than I was when I first came to Madrid then!”