Gilberto Silva ready to be Brazil’s unsung hero once again


Johannesburg : World champion Gilberto Silva stands on the verge of a third consecutive World Cup appearance but it seems the veteran midfielder is still more than happy to live in the shadow of his more illustrious team-mates.

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While the likes of Kaka, Felipe Melo, Elano, Robinho and Luis Fabiano steal the limelight among the world’s media, the former Selecao captain is content to do the donkeywork necessary to allow the Brazil midfield to work its magic.

Coach Carlos Dunga has often been criticised by the Brazilian media because of his tactics and selection policy but his decision to recall Gilberto to the first team for the 2010 qualifying campaign after the Panathinaikos player filled the role of substitute at Germany 2006 appears vindicated.

Under the 46-year-old Dunga, Brazil have won the Copa America, the Confederations Cup and finished top of the South American World Cup qualification group.

Gilberto has been an integral part of this success and with 93 caps to his name, the 33-year-old has has now surpassed Pele’s mark of 92 appearances although he believes such milestones are unimportant.

“What’s important is to play a good World Cup,” Gilberto said at a press conference Wednesday at the Fairway Hotel on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

“The team is well prepared because for us the World Cup started for us three years, eight months ago.”

Gilberto is now ready to pass on his experiences from being part of the 2002 World Cup winning team as well as the disappointment of 2006 when Brazil crashed out in the quarter-finals at the hands of France.

“This is my third World Cup and I see players who have won championships with their clubs but are at their first World Cup. I can help to answer their questions and satisfy their curiosity and show them how to feel at home,” said Gilberto.

The midfielder’s move from Arsenal to Panathinaikos in 2008 in order to ensure first team football certainly has paid off for Gilberto, who now has the opportunity of joining an elite group of players who have won two World Cups.

But first up is next Tuesday’s Group G opener against North Korea, a team Gilberto admits Brazil know little about.

“We don’t have much information about them but we were able to watch the friendly against Nigeria,” he said.

“I don’t think that they’ll play the same way against us but we expect an opponent that will be tough to break down.”

Having not scored for the national team since 2002, Gilberto admits he is unlikely to be the matchwinner at any stage while he is extremely confident Dunga’s methods will pay off.

“Nobody has a problem with how Dunga works with the squad. The results are proof of that. People can think what they want but we have faith in our coach,” he said.