It has been quite a year for Hulk. Not only did his performances with FC Porto earn him a call-up to the Brazil side, they also secured him a high-profile move to Russian side Zenit St Petersburg.
His displays could also garner him votes for the FIFA/FIFPro World XI, a side he would pick himself to play in, as he revealed in a good-humoured chat with FIFA.com, the latest in a series of interviews with leading figures on the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2012 awards.
FIFA.com: Who in your opinion has been the player of the season?
Hulk: To my mind the best player around today is [Lionel] Messi. Barcelona have some great players and a fantastic team, which makes it easier for them to get results and for their individual qualities to shine through. Cristiano Ronaldo is a matchwinner too and scores a lot of goals. When you talk about the best player in the world it’s between those two, though my vote would go to Messi.
Has Messi caught your eye more than anyone else you’ve played against?
Yes. He’s got a great team by his side but he also does things differently. The way I see it he deserves to win again, not least because of the amazing number of goals he’s scored this season. He scores more than anyone.
And who would get your vote for FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year?
Picking a coach is harder because we don’t see what goes on with teams on a day-to-day basis. That’s why I think people always choose someone who’s won a trophy, like the UEFA Champions League, because they know how hard it is to win it. So I’d vote for Roberto Di Matteo of Chelsea. I don’t know if he’s the best coach but you only have to look at what he achieved in taking on the job halfway through the competition, beating Barcelona and then winning it. It was a job very well done. I watched Chelsea’s games, and in technical and tactical terms they played very well.
And who is in your FIFA/FIFPro World XI?
Hmm. I don’t know. There are so many good players around, and friendship comes into it too (laughs). All I know is that I’d put Messi and Ronaldo in my team and eight others. I’d also have Petr Cech in goal and I’d play myself too. The three of us up there in the front line: Messi, Ronaldo and I (laughs). After that there are a lot of options, a lot of quality players.
Finally, the FIFA Puskás Award. Which goal stood out for you this year?
Well, maybe it wasn’t the most stunning goal but I’d go for Ramires’ cracker against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. It was a fine strike and, above all, a decisive one.
All I know is that I’d put Messi and Ronaldo in my team and eight others. I’d play myself too. The three of us up there in the front line: Messi, Ronaldo and I!