When he was appointed Internacional coach prior to their 2010 Copa Libertadores semi-final against Sao Paulo, Celso Roth promptly handed the captain’s armband to Fabian Guedes, better known as Bolivar. The decision was an obvious one, and not just because of the central defender’s class and authority on the pitch. A commanding voice in the Colorado dressing room, Bolivar, who is now in his second spell with the club, is also much respected by his team-mates and the directors.
The decision to make him skipper proved an astute one, with the 30-year-old centre-half fulfilling a long-cherished dream in lifting the club’s second Libertadores trophy, achieved at the expense of Guadalajara in August. That success has presented Bolivar with the opportunity to get his hands on another coveted piece of silverware, the FIFA Club World Cup, which the men from Porto Alegre will attempt to win for a second time next month.
Breaking off from Internacional’s preparations for the big kick-off, Bolivar spoke at length to FIFA.com about his role as skipper, the difference between this side and the double-winning team of 2006, and his hopes for UAE 2010.
FIFA.com: You’re the captain now and you have a lot of experience. Do you see yourself as Celso Roth’s spokesman out on the pitch?
Bolivar: Definitely. I’m leading the team on and off the pitch and because of that the players have faith in me whenever they have a problem that needs to be discussed with the coach or the board. I’m an intermediary for lots of people and that’s a source of satisfaction for me. Guinazu was the skipper before but Roth has complete confidence in me. He gave me the armband back and he feels really at ease with me. I always try to provide a channel between the coaching staff, the directors and the players, and it’s an important job that helps us stick together as a family.
The core of this Internacional side is similar to the one that won the Libertadores in 2006. How much do you think that will help the team at the FIFA Club World Cup?
It’s very important. Inter hadn’t won much before 2006. The players were anxious to prove themselves and the club didn’t have an international title to its name. But then things took off and the fact the club now has over 100,000 members is proof of that. The difference between now and then is that this team has more experience and has won trophies. The most important thing for us now to get through to December without picking up any injuries and to keep our confidence up by getting results in the Brazilian league.
You were part of the team that won the Libertadores in 2006, but you left the club before that year’s FIFA Club World Cup. Do you regret that decision and do you feel you have to make up for it now on a personal level?
Regardless of whether we won or not I knew that after the 2006 final I was going to Monaco. And I don’t regret it because I left Brazil for professional and financial reasons. Obviously I would have liked to have had a Club World Cup title on my CV. I was with Monaco but I wanted to be on the pitch with my team-mates from the Libertadores campaign. In any case I always knew that if I came back I’d get another chance to take part in the competition. And that’s how it’s worked out. It’s a debt I feel I owe myself and I want to put this title, which is such an important one, on my list of honours at last.
What are the differences between this team and the 2006 side? Do you think you have compensated for the departures of Sandro and Taison?
They were both very important players in the 2006 Libertadores win. Sandro did a screening job in front of the defence, making it difficult for opposing forwards to get through, and Taison was the kind of player who could get forward on the break and run on to long balls. They made a difference when we needed them to, but now Celso’s putting his faith in the players who stayed on and getting them to do that job. And it’s never easy when you have two or three new people come in. It always takes them a while to get their confidence up, but we’re doing everything we can in training to get them up to speed, help them settle in and to reach the level the others were at. That’s why I’m hopeful we’ll be ready when December comes around.
How do you get on with your defensive partner Indio? You’re both experienced players who have a happy knack of scoring goals. Where does that come from?
It’s something that’s very important for us. Obviously our main job is to defend but whenever we have the chance to support our team-mates we like to get forward too. I was lucky enough to score in the first leg of the Libertadores final against Chivas and it was an amazing feeling. As for Indio, I’ve got a lot of admiration for him. He’s scored more goals than any other defender at the club, beating [Elias] Figueroa’s record. There’s a lot of affection, friendship and respect between us and that’s helped us become one of the best central-defensive pairings in Brazil.
European clubs always field strong line-ups at the FIFA Club World Cup, but what will Inter’s main assets be in Abu Dhabi?
European football is different to ours. It’s all about strength there. In Brazil, however, when you’re in a tight spot there are always one or two players who can make the difference. Obviously Internacional have got players who are capable of making history, though the most important thing is that it’s going to be the end of the season for us. They’ll only be halfway through theirs and they haven’t started to get ready for the Club World Cup yet. I think we’ll be more closely knit as a team than they will, and we’re going to keep on applying ourselves to make sure that works in our favour.
One last question. If Inter do win in Abu Dhabi, you’ll have the honour of lifting the trophy. Have you pictured that scenario and what would it mean to you?
Yes, I have. When you’re at a big club there are always titles to be won. And with a quality team like ours - one that's always in the mix in big competitions - then it’s only natural to dream of things like that. We’re a team of winners here at Inter. We’ve got every chance of going there and lifting the trophy, so obviously it goes through your mind. When you win a big competition, like the Libertadores for example, you become part of the club’s history and that’s something I want to experience again.