“Playing in the full Bombonera is my dream”

The back of his shirt says Hulk. It’s his superhero outfit. The same with whom Atlético Mineiro was champion of Brazil in 2021 after 50 yearsWith which Anthony Mohamed He has already won two titles in less than two months (the Mineiro championship and the Brazilian Super Cup) and with which he intends to go all out for the Libertadores. Nevertheless, The 35-year-old striker also lives with his alter ego, Givanildo Vieira de Souza, his real name.

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“The Hulk thing comes from childhood, from when I was three years old, I imitated him in my house, and I told my parents: ‘I’m the Hulk, I have a lot of strength.’ And he built benches, haha. My father started calling me the Hulk. And he put me like that and stuck until today, he liked it. I am happy with that nickname”, says the Brazilian who, just days ago, on Tuesday the 18th, made headlines because Zaya, his fourth daughter, was born, but the first with Camila Angelo, his current partner who also happens to be his ex-wife’s niece .

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A situation that generated conflicts in the past, but that today allows him to see how his family is strengthened. “You are an answer to our prayers, daughter, you came to make our lives even more beautiful. Welcome my princess, I will love and protect you always”, posted on their networks. The striker, who lives with his wife and little Zaya in a mansion on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte, in the Lago Santa neighborhood, is going through a great personal moment and in a heads up with Olé he talks about the person behind the hero.

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Hulk’s hand in hand with Olé

-By your physique, did you practice any other sport?

-No, not really. I was always passionate about football, with that I was able to change the life of my family and I got it thanks to football, thank God. I like to practice many sports because it is good for your health, but professionally I have never practiced another sport.

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-They say you lose five kilos! per game, is it true?

-Yes, it is true, especially when we play with very high temperatures. I sweat quite a bit. In fact, I wear three pairs of boots: for the warm-up, for the first half and for the second. I sweat a lot. I lose so much fluid that, when the game is over, I immediately begin to hydrate well to regain weight.

-Because of your way of training and taking care of your body, is Cristiano a mirror?

-Not only because of his physique, in general. He is an athlete to follow, an example. He is very dedicated to him. I faced him in 2008/09, when he was champion of the Champions League with United. He eliminated us (with Porto) in the quarterfinals.

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-What do you like about his game?

-It has a style that began to change. He is very intelligent, he scores a lot of goals. He is an example, but not only for footballers. I try to do a lot of taking care of myself. I started to worry later, when I was young I didn’t take care of myself that much. Today I look better every day. Cristiano is another stick, like Messi, something else… Or our Neymar, I always hope for his success. He is named after our country. He deserves to be respected.

Do you know Leo?

-I played against Messi, with Porto against Barcelona for the European Super Cup, and also with Brazil against the National Team. I don’t know him very well. Dani Alves speaks highly of him. On the field he is a genius. As I said, Messi, Cristiano and Neymar deserve our respect.

-Do you think that Messi would make you score much more goals?

-Having the chance to play with cracks like this would make me privileged and, without a doubt, it would make things a lot easier for me. So yes.

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-Like Neymar, do you get along with him?

-Oh yes, without a doubt. I had the opportunity to play with Neymar for a few years. A different type, with a lot of technique, with many resources. As I said before: Messi and Cristiano are at another level because of the numbers they have achieved, because of the Ballon d’Or… But after them, a thumbs up for Neymar, who has many qualities.

-Speaking of partners in the field, Nacho Fernández and Zaracho make you score a lot of goals, right?

-Without a doubt, they are great players. And as people they are extraordinary. I am very happy to receive them in our country. And on the field they help me, they give me a lot of balls to convert. They are crack. Each one with its characteristics. Zaracho never stops. Nacho with the ball on his foot is one of the best players I’ve ever seen.

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-How do you get along with the Turk?

-My relationship with the teacher is very good, very “everything is fine”, very healthy. Very funny. Always come with an open heart. He understands the day to day and that makes it much easier. He tries to understand us, add things to us. When you have a technician like that, you’ve already won over the group. All the players respect him a lot. He was already a champion, I hope he continues to search for more titles so that he can write a nice story at Atlético.

-El Turco told Olé that you force him to do sit-ups…

-Haha, one day I was at the Academy (training center) and I told him “come on teacher, you have to do sit-ups so you don’t get in bad shape”. And he replied that it was not easy… All his team are good people, we open the arms of our country and we are here at their disposal to help them in everything.

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-The Mineiro is today the most powerful team on the continent?

-When you win you are placed in another level. Today Atlético Mineiro is a team that everyone wants to beat, all opponents play you like a final.

-And how do they stay at this level?

-We are defending the Mineiro Championship, we are going to defend the Brasileiro, we are going to defend the Brazilian Cup, and we are going in search of the Libertadores. Of course we know it will be very difficult.

-But what competition are they aiming at?

-All competitions are a goal, but for me to win the Libertadores with Atlético is a dream, it is to go down in history.

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As Hulk well marks, and even Mohamed already marked it, the main objective is the Libertadores, where in 2021 they were eliminated in the semi with Palmeiras, although they previously left out Mouth (in eighths) already River (In rooms).

-In this Cup, what role do you think River and Boca will have?

-River and Boca always enter the Cup to win it, like Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League. They deserve a lot of respect for the conquests they had, for the trajectory. Palmeiras too, is a two-time champion. Flamengo… But Atlético also for everything he has been doing.

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-You already faced the two in 2021, would you like to cross them again?

-Without a doubt. I always liked it, without detracting from others, I always like to play great games where the motivation is natural. Playing against Boca in a full Bombonera… It’s my dream.

Have you played there?

-Yes, but unfortunately there was no public due to the pandemic. Thank God the fans are already returning 100%, that gives a lot to football. Argentines, Brazilians, Uruguayans, singing from start to finish… La Bombonera is a historic stadium. The same with River, a great. Flamengo at the Maracaná… At the Mineirao we played with 50,000 passionate fans. Surely if you ask a player from Boca or River they also want to play with us. For what Atlético represents not only in Brazil, but in South America. So for sure I want to play against River or against Boca.

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-Do you follow Argentine football?

I don’t usually see him often. We are with many games, concentration, practices… Argentine soccer has a lot of technical quality and grit. Brazil and Argentina are the biggest player trainers in the world. Their championships are very disputed.

-What does the Brazilian player have that the Argentine does not?

-It is difficult to compare them. They are like trees that bear differentiated fruit. In Brazil and Argentina, I don’t know how to explain it, players are born. And so it will continue to happen. Pelé, Maradona, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Neymar, Messi, Ortega, Verón, are guys that you stopped everything to see them play. And every year they keep coming out, they keep being born.

-Who is the idol of the Hulk?

-Since I was a child I always admired Romario a lot, but my biggest idol was Ronaldo O Fenomeno. He dropped everything to watch him play. Then I had the chance to meet him and he is an extraordinary person.

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-Apart from Leo, what other Argentine player do you like?

-There are many quality players in Argentina. Di María, who played a lot against him in Portugal; Saviola that I played against him; Aimar… A lot of quality. You learn a lot from them and they force you to give your best.

-You are in a great moment of your career, are you excited about the World Cup?

-I don’t know if I’m at my best, I’m 35. Ten years ago I was much faster. Thank God I’m fine, I’m taking care of myself to improve myself. Playing a World Cup is a dream, I had the chance to do it in my country, but I couldn’t win it. I must work to try to do my best for my club and it would be a dream come true to play another World Cup. I will be prepared.

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-Your candidates to win Qatar?

-Argentina and Brazil! T-shirts are heavy. They may be in 20th place in the ranking, but if they go to the World Cup they are favourites. Like Germany, France, Italy… It’s like that. In the World Cup that counts.

-What would you like to win this year?

-The Brasileirao, the Libertadores and the World Cup. LOL. I must think big, be ambitious and work for it. Of course they are not easy things, but I have to keep working hard, be dedicated and be focused. Surely it is possible.

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