When Brazilian striker Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, known as Hulk, steps onto the pitch and unleashes his powerful left-footed shot, opposing defenders can be forgiven for taking a second glance at his imposing physique. Off the field, the Shanghai SIPG star is remarkably relaxed, though, and answers questions with a refreshing smile.
When asked who he would prefer to have in his side between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the 30-year-old told www.sc.qa/en/: “I would take Messi and Ronaldo, and also Neymar. All four of us could go to play in attack together.”
Hulk is also aware of the rising importance of Asian football, and highlighted the growth of the beautiful game across the continent following his move to the Shanghai side last year.
“I think it is a very important development, which ensures a lot of investment in sporting infrastructure. Asia, China and the Middle East will be very big football powerhouses in the coming years, they are investing a lot. I think everything they do is very well planned. So I am sure they already have plans set up for this to be a very good World Cup in 2022.”
Looking ahead to the 2022 FIFA World Cup™, Hulk said the young Qatari players who will form part of the home side will be presented with an opportunity unlike any other. “I just want to wish the Qatari players good luck, and tell them they are going to go through a fantastic experience,” he said. "Getting the opportunity to play in your national team jersey and playing the World Cup at home is something wonderful.”
Each year he has visited Qatar, the Brazilian striker, who won the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, has been welcomed warmly by football fans from the region. “I think Qatar 2022 will be absolutely incredible. I have been here for four years each winter, and each year you can see the country evolve a lot. So I am sure that it will be a fantastic spectacle here in 2022.”
In 2022, he believes the world will see a similar football passion as in his native Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. “It was an absolutely unique moment when our fans kept singing the anthem even after the music had stopped, you could feel the chills down your spine. I just felt like going onto the pitch and doing my best.
"I think in Qatar you will have a similar effect. The World Cup is an international catalyst for football, just as it was in Japan, in Brazil, and it will be in Russia and in other countries. When there is a World Cup the world stops, the country stops, everyone is hugging each other, whether old or young, everyone stops just to enjoy the football.”