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AS.com | 26/12/2012
Real Madrid centre-back Pepe has revealed he is still plagued by his infamous assault on Getafe player Javier Casquero in 2009.
The defender kicked Casquero in the back when he was on the floor, then trod on him, taunted him, hit two other Getafe players in the face and then fought with his own team-mates during a match between Madrid and their neighbours at the Santiago Bernabéu, which Madrid went on to win 3-2.
"I was tempted to quit football," admitted Pepe, referring to the incident in an interview with Portuguese newspaper 'Record', which has awarded him the Artur Agostinho prize for character of the year in Portuguese sport for 2012.
"After the incident with Casquero everyone made up their mind about me, I am still called a murderer to this day," he said.
Pepe also declared his belief that there is a lot of pressure on him and his compatriots at Real Madrid, Fabio Coentrao, Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho.
"In order to attack Mourinho people have to attack the other Portuguese players in the team too. Everything we do on and off the pitch is interpreted in a different way, and when Barcelona are involved it takes on a whole new dimension because Barcelona are a team with a huge structure and they manage to blow everything that happens out of proportion."
When asked if he thought Portuguese players were discriminated against, he agreed.
"We are foreigners, and this is obvious when it comes to the preferences of the media. If they had to choose between a Spaniard and a Portuguese, they wouldn't even think twice about it."
On this point, Pepe added that Cristiano "does not get the praise he deserves".
However, the centre-back stressed he had "no complaints" with Real Madrid supporters who he said adored his style of play and hold a special place in their hearts for him. But, he admitted "at times they don't make enough noise or support the team enough".
Pepe also said Spain "have never had a player that deserves to win the Ballon d'Or," compared with Portugal, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo both winning the coveted award in the 21st century.
"They don't cope with this fact well, and we feel that when we play away from home. There is more pressure on the Portuguese, but we have to learn to deal with it," he added.
Pepe also indicated that one day he would like to return to FC Porto, the club he was at before he joined Madrid.
However, he insisted that if he does leave the Santiago Bernabéu, it will have nothing to do with whether or not Mourinho or Ronaldo remain at the club.
"If Cristiano or Mourinho decide to leave, that'll be their decision. I'm not going to make a decision about my future based on whether or not they leave. I will make my decision at the right moment."