Brazil forward Hulk speaks exclusively to FourFourTwo about his greatest goal, biggest career achievement and future prospects.
At what age did you realise you had the potential to make it as a professional?
I was 17. At that point I knew I could make it. I had been playing on youth teams since I was 13. In 2004, I moved to Portugal and joined Vitoria. That was a great experience for me.
You are just 26, but have moved around quite a bit. What has that been like?
Good. As long as I play, I am enjoying myself.
You played in Japan's J-League for two years. What was that like?
I played with Kowasaki Frontale, Consadole Sapporo and Tokyo Verdy. Every place I went, there was a lot of passion. I really enjoyed it there.
You seemed very comfortable playing with Porto. Was it difficult to leave?
Yes. Portugal is a great destination for Brazilian players. We can speak the language and there are a lot of Brazilian players in the league. I had lived there as a teenager and played there before. For me, it is like a second home.
What is the greatest goal you have scored in your career?
There are many. For me, it would be the one I scored for Porto against Turkish club Besiktas in 2010 in the Europa League. We were down to 10 players and I scored to help win the game 3-1.
What else stood out from that game?
The crowd. The Turkish fans in Istanbul gave me and the team a standing ovation after I made it 3-1. It was my second goal of the game. That is something I will never forget.
How did you react?
We knew we would have to play in a hostile environment that night. The Besiktas crowd can be notoriously loud and we knew that. I must say that I really appreciated that reaction from the fans. I responded by applauding them. You don't see that often in football.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
For me, winning the Europa League in 2011 where we beat Braga in the final in Dublin. We had a great season that year. We had said at the start of the season that we wanted to win the trophy and we went out and did it. Lifting that trophy was a dream come true for me.
How does it feel to be linked with Champions League-winners Chelsea?
I am very happy. They are the European champions and the best club in Europe at the moment. For me, it is a huge achievement that they want me to play for them.
What do you want accomplish this season?
I want to continue to win trophies. That is what I want to do if I join Chelsea.
Interview: Clemente Lisi, June 2012. Subscribe!