December's FIFA Club World Cup in Japan represents the biggest tournament in the 97-year history of Brazil's Internacional. Although the men from Porto Alegre will be making their debut in the competition, they do boast a previous winner in their ranks and his experience will no doubt prove vital as the club limbers up for the big event.
32-year-old striker Pedro Iarley was a member of the Boca Juniors side that hoisted the Intercontinental Cup back in 2003. Three years on from that unforgettable triumph over Carlo Ancelotti's AC Milan, the scampering Brazilian, who enjoyed a spell with Real Madrid B earlier in his career, is hoping to pick up a second winners medal in 2006, this time with the Colorados.
As Iarley explains to FIFA.com the expectation is mounting in the Inter camp. "We can't wait to get to Japan," he says. "Even though we've been battling it out in the Brazilian league, we've already got our mind on the Club World Cup. We just want to get out there and play." However anxious they are to get their Japanese adventure under way, it does not seem to be distracting Iarley and co from their domestic chores. The striker popped up with a goal in a 2-0 league win over Fluminense on Sunday, a result that lifts the Porto Alegre outfit into third in the table
Iarley's maiden triumph in the competition was closely followed by thousands of his compatriots, who roused themselves from their slumber early on the warm morning of 14 December 2003 to follow his exploits on the other side of the world. The experienced forward will no doubt be hoping his fellow Brazilians will once again be losing sleep come the final in a few weeks time.
Mindful of his record in the tournament, Iarley is more than willing to play his part in the build-up to the showpiece event. "I've been talking a lot to my team-mates about it," he says. "Although they've got plenty of experience, they've never played in a competition like this. These games are going to be so different to anything they've ever faced before, and having won the thing I know what I'm talking about."
A repeat of a dream?
Iarley is understandably keen for a repeat of that "unforgettable and magnificent" victory over the aristocratic Italians, and believes his side's relatively low profile around the world will be an advantage when they travel to Asia: "Barcelona are the big favourites going into the tournament - there's no doubt about that. They're a wealthy club with some great players. That said, Boca were underdogs against Milan three years ago, but when we got out there it was just 11 against 11 and it was Boca who took the title."
"Everyone will be backing the Spanish," he adds. "But I know from experience that that doesn't mean anything when the referee blows his whistle." Few can doubt Iarley's credentials on the subject. With legendary coach Carlos Bianchi at the helm, he and his Boca team-mates defied the odds and the likes of Dida, Cafu, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Kaka, Clarence Seedorf and Andriy Shevchenko to prevail on penalties.
The joy of defeating domestic rivals Sao Paulo in the final of this year's Copa Libertadores was quickly tempered by an exodus of players who were vital to coach Abel Braga's plans, among them the free-scoring Rafael Sobis, the scorer of two goals in the two-legged final and a recent call-up to Dunga's Brazil squad.
The subsequent battle for a place alongside Fernandao in the Inter forward line has seen Iarley jump ahead of Colombia's Wason Renteria and Luiz Adriano in the pecking order. "We know the responsibility we've got," comments Iarley. "Sobis played a key part in winning the Copa. I can tell you, though, that we're determined to become just as indispensable to the club as he was, and that's something else that will be motivating us out in Japan."
For Iarley, the FIFA Club World Cup represents an unmissable opportunity to make a global name for himself in a Brazilian shirt. Ideally for him, that chance would come in a final against a Barcelona side marshalled by the inimitable Ronaldinho, who began his dizzying ascent to international stardom with Gremio, Inter's sworn rivals. "There's a huge rivalry between the sides," says Iarley. "They've won the world championship and now we have the chance to emulate them. Just imagine if we did it by beating Barcelona and Ronaldinho in the final - that would give our fans even more to celebrate." Yet another incentive for Iarley to write his name in the competition's record books for a second time.