Luis Fabiano is riding the crest of a wave right now. With impeccable timing, the Sevilla striker has capitalised on the most successful era in the club's history to top the scoring charts in Spain and give fresh impetus to his career. Here, the Brazilian speaks exclusively to FIFA.com about his ambitions for club and country.
Back in his beloved national team after a recall by Dunga, Brazil's Luis Fabiano is very much in vogue. So much so, in fact, that the striker is reportedly keen to secure a move to Real Madrid for next season. Asked about this, he would not be drawn on the subject, only saying: "I have a year still to run on my contract, so at the moment there is nothing else. It's possible I will remain at Sevilla."
For now though, the 27-year-old is focused on finishing the season strongly with Los Rojiblancos, who have endured one of the most turbulent years in their history. Expectations were sky high last August, when a maiden UEFA Champions League campaign offered the prospect of glory on two fronts.
The club was then rocked by the sudden death of midfielder Antonio Puerta, a tragedy that deeply affected the staff and players and took its toll on team performances. And although the Andalucian outfit battled on, they failed to reach the heights of previous campaigns, bowing out of the Champions League in the first knockout round.
"We're pleased to have taken part in the Champions League, a competition everyone wants to be in, but I'm convinced we could have gone further," laments Luis Fabiano. "We'll try to make it back for next year's edition. It won't be easy, but there are still five games to play, so there is a possibility."
There is also the possibility that he may pip Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for Europe's coveted Golden Shoe, having already established himself among the continent's top scorers. "
Right now Cristiano Ronaldo is going really well and is four goals ahead or me. But there is still a chance, so I'll be trying to score as many as possible
[in our remaining games]," the player adds.
During a successful spell with Brazil's Sao Paulo between 2001 and 2004, the striker was handed his Seleção debut, going on to compete at the Copa America Peru 2004. However, the player struggled to adapt to European football following a move to Porto later that year, and soon found himself surplus to requirements at international level. The situation would remain that way until his 2005 move to Sevilla, where he quickly established himself in a fast-improving side. Indeed, just a season later he hit 15 goals in 39 games, going on to win two UEFA Cups, a Copa del Rey, a Spanish Supercup and a UEFA Super Cup between 2006 and 2007.
Brazil coach Dunga could no longer ignore the striker's claims, duly recalling him to the squad in place of the injured Afonso Alves for the recent South American qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. "It came at a vital time, just as I was playing well, scoring freely and feeling good," Luis Fabiano says of the call-up.
"I'm delighted and have high hopes of doing well with the national team and reaching South Africa.
Participating in the next World Cup is my goal at the moment. Every game with Brazil is a very important one, and I'm going to give it all I have
," says the player dubbed O Fabuloso.
Nor does the fierce competition or pressure that comes with the role seem to phase the Sevilla man. "I'm not afraid of how well Adriano or Pato might be doing. I'm confident in my own ability and believe that if I keep on scoring there won't be a problem," this ardent admirer of Romario tells FIFA.com.
When the question turns to the leaders in Dunga's side, Fabiano is very clear. "Kaka is the star of the team and there is also Lucio our captain, who can be a very important player for us." Then there is another stellar figure who he feels will come back strongly: "Ronaldinho will dazzle again in the national team. He's a great player and I'm sure he'll rediscover his best form."
The striker also admits it pained him to watch Brazil perform at Germany 2006 and says his dream is to help the team do better in South Africa. "I believe we have to at least reach the Final," he says decisively.
It could be the player's last chance to lift the coveted trophy, as Brazil 2014 may come too late for him. "I'm very happy we've been chosen (to host the event). It will be a real party and a chance for Brazil to win in front of their own supporters. However, I don't think I'll be playing at it. I'll be too old by then and will just have to watch on TV," he concludes with a wry smile.