William has to laugh when asked about Bruno Labbadia's statement. The VfL Wolfsburg coach recently said of his right-back: "William is my little bird" – which was meant in a thoroughly positive way. "That makes me happy when he says something like that," explains the 23-year-old in return. In the meantime, the Brazilian has arrived at VfL and in the Bundesliga. His star is rising – and not just with Labbadia.
But the 52-year-old has played a big part in his winger's performance explosion. How did he do it? First, by ordering William from the left back to the right side of defense – where he feels most comfortable. On the other hand, Labbadia has had many talks with the Brazilian. The language varies, the two communicate with a mixture of German, Italian and Spanish. The message, however, is always the same: I'm interested in you, I want to help you get better. "I get on very well with him. If you ever make a mistake, he comes up to you and explains it to you. Something like that helps you in your development," William said about Labbadia.
On Saturday there was such a need to talk. In the 2:2 against Hertha BSC, the Brazilian made a bad mistake. The 23-year-old initiated the Berlin lead with a capital mispass. But as if he had already guessed what Labbadia said only after the game, namely that it is most important "how you deal with such mistakes," William shook himself briefly and simply went on. "It was the wrong decision, but that's what happens in soccer. I tried to put it behind me quickly," says the right-back. And that succeeded, he later initiated the 2:2 with a long ball.
Arrived from Internacional in Brazil for €5 million in the summer of 2017, William has since displaced veteran Paul Verhaegh from his place at right back in the back four. He brings a lot to the table, he's quick on his feet, he thinks offensively, but defensively he doesn't shy away from a duel either. And: It looks like fun with him too. "I feel comfortable in Wolfsburg. When you're happy in your head, a lot of things go easier," says William. For example, dealing with mistakes. "Everyone is behind you if you make a mistake. It's part of the new VfL. We also understand each other off the pitch. That's important and makes the team stronger," says the Brazilian.
William is still somewhat evasive on the question of how strong VfL already is and what goals it can achieve this season. "We're on the right track," says the winger, who still has high goals away from the daily business. About playing in the Champions League ("That's every player's dream, isn't it?"). Or to be called up to the Brazilian senior national team. In 2016, William won gold with the "Selecao" Olympic team at the Games on home soil. But since then, the Wolfsburg native has not been called up again. "I'm only focusing on VfL," he says. But of course he knows that good performances in the Bundesliga automatically put him in national coach Tite's notebook as well.
Things are going well for William – but one thing worries him. Because in Germany, after the summer, winter is around the corner pretty quickly. A horror for the kickers from Sugarloaf Mountain. "But I have to go through that," Labbadia's "little bird" says with a smile.