International Women's Day is widely celebrated in Russia on 8 March. It’s also called the celebration of Spring and flowers. With Spring in the air in Saint Petersburg, women wandering the streets could get an unexpected flower from a smiling 46-year-old foreigner. Nothing special, it’s just two-time FIFA World Cup™ winner and Brazil legend Cafu strolling around. The FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 really is just around the corner.
You would be hard-pressed to find a footballer who won more titles than the Brazilian former full back. The two-time World Cup champion holds the record for the most *Seleção *appearances with 142 and is the only player to have appeared in three consecutive World Cup Finals.
The World Cup legend arrived in Saint Petersburg to take part in the celebrations marking 100 days to the start of the Confederations Cup that are to take place on 9 March. As you might expect, the former defender won that competition as well, back in 1997. He also took part in the draw for the 2014 World Cup in his native Brazil and now is passing the torch on to Russia.
“I can already see how much effort Russia is putting into their preparation for the FIFA World Cup, and I have no doubt that everything will be organised to the highest standards," Cafu said. "I hope that Brazil will qualify and they will have a good chance of winning it."
Cafu is staying in the historic city centre, the perfect location to go sight-seeing. The Brazilian immediately set off on a tour around the city. First he visited Saint Isaac's Cathedral before heading to the Admiralty building and then Palace Square. From there, he walked along Nevsky Prospect towards Kazan Cathedral and the House of Books. It goes without saying that the city's beauty left a lasting impression on Cafu.
The FIFA Confederations Cup is a major event, and a success in this tournament can make a team stronger.
"Saint Petersburg has a fantastic historical atmosphere," he said. "I have been here before, but didn’t have enough time for a walkabout like today. The contrast with Brazil is strong, as it’s over 40 degrees celsius there. Hermitage on the Palace Square impressed me the most. Tomorrow I’ll come back as there will be some fun here with dances, music and a celebration."
*Cafu comes bearing gifts
*However, the famous footballer was not just interested in an informal chat and stroll. On International Women's Day, Cafu offered flowers to the women that passed by, much to the amazement of everyone around. After an hour, he arrived at his final destination: the offices of Russian social network VKontakte on Nevsky Prospect, where a live chat between Cafu and his many fans had been planned.
The football legend spoke about his impressions from walking around Saint Petersburg and his expectations about the upcoming FIFA tournaments in Russia, the closest of which, the Confederations Cup, is only 100 days away. He recalled the previous edition of this competition, which took place in Brazil one year before the 2014 World Cup, and shared his memories of competing at four World Cups and one Confederations Cup himself.
"The FIFA Confederations Cup is a major event, and a success in this tournament can make a team stronger," Cafu said. "As the hosts, Russia have a good chance, in my opinion. I can see them facing Germany in the final."
Tomorrow, Cafu will be at the Saint Petersburg Stadium to participate in the celebrations to mark 100 days until the Confederations Cup gets underway. There are numerous interesting events and special appearances planned for the occasion. The countdown to the Tournament of Champions in Russia is well and truly on.