Buru: A year's work
© Foto-net

2007 will live long in the memory for Brazil's Buru, who, as well as picking up his second FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title at Rio de Janeiro, also won the best player and top-scorer awards. To top it all off, the Brazilian was warmly applauded by the audience at the Zurich Opera House during tonight's FIFA World Player Gala.

FIFA.com interviewed the sharpshooter ahead of the big night in Switzerland, excerpts of which are shown below. You can find the interview in full on the site's video section.

FIFA.com: What does it mean to you to be attending the Gala?
Buru:
It's a reward for all the work put in throughout this year, and recognition for everything I've done this season. It makes me very happy.

Brazilwon the last edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. What for you was the highlight of that competition?
The most special game was our meeting with Portugal as they are our biggest rivals in beach soccer. They have great players like Madjer - twice voted the best player at the World Cup - and Hernani. Beating our arch-rivals was important in boosting our confidence during the competition.

You yourself picked up the adidas Golden Ball and Golden Shoe at the tournament. Do you consider yourself the best beach soccer player at the moment?
I think that today there are many very capable players who possess great technique. However, sometimes that is not enough to win games, and you also need strength and, of course, a powerful group. After what I achieved in the World Cup, I do believe I am the best, yes.

Which of your two FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup titles was the most difficult to win?
Both were difficult and had their own story, but the hardest is always the next one. I believe our opponents this year came into the tournament much better prepared and much more competitive than before. There has been a huge growth in beach soccer, and the teams are now more professional.

The next FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will be inFrancenot Copacabana. Will it hard forBrazilto play away from home?
I'm sure Brazil will find it hard against France in 2008, as the hosts will have the benefit of their supporters, as will Portugal. However, just as we have done for other competitions in Europe, we'll leave no stone unturned with our preparations.

Among the sides who surprised us at the last FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, which one can you see consolidating their position in the future?
I'd go for Russia, as they are already a very strong side. At the last World Cup they were eliminated without having lost a single game, showing just how much they had progressed. Their athletes are strong and disciplined, and I've noted a remarkable improvement

You seem to be at your sporting peak despite being in your 30s. How long do you think you can go on playing beach soccer?
I'd say I could go on playing for another five years at the highest level of the game. Beach soccer has come on in leaps and bounds, and everyday talented new youngsters are emerging. These guys make it harder for the older players to survive, as the sand makes huge demands on you physically. By 35, I don't think I'll be able to keep up with 20-year-olds any more.