By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An American, a German and an Italian walk into a bar… along with a Brazilian, a Spaniard, a Swiss and a Swede.

Daniel Mendes and Tiago Calvano can talk to them all.

Both are from Brazil where the national language is Portuguese, but soccer has taken them all over the globe, where they made a point of learning the language each stop along the way.

“I’m not a shy guy, you know,” Calvano said. “Doesn’t matter if I make a mistake or not, I will talk.”

Calvano speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English, German, French and Italian. Mendes speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English and Swedish.

That’s seven languages all together, and it’s paying off on the field.

“Well, you know Sammy the goalkeeper, I speak French with him because he’s from Cameroon,” Calvano said.

Still, sometimes in the heat of the action they will use the wrong language.

“The first thing that comes in my mind is English, and I speak English,” Calvano said. “Or even Spanish, because we are so concentrated and focused on the game, you don’t think, ‘Oh, with him I have to speak Portuguese.'”

The fact that they can even make that mistake is something to be proud of. When asked if it was easy to pick up the different languages, both Mendes and Calvano left an emphatic, “no.”

“German is hard,” Calvano said.

“I think Swedish is easier than English,” Mendes added.

It certainly would’ve been possible, and perhaps even easier, to just get by without learning a new language every place they went, especially since they’d be in a new place before too long anyway. So it’s interesting why they both said it was so important.

“Particularly, if we are in other countries, you must adapt with the culture,” Calvano said. “The other people will feel comfortable with you and they will respect you more if you talk their language.”

“When we speak the language, everything is going to be easier for you,” Mendes said.

Easier for everyone but the referees. With seven languages between them, there’s hardly an insult these two can’t hurl.

“Not in English,” Calvano said. “When it’s something bad, not in English.”

David McCoy

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