Atlético Mineiro's Gilberto Silva shares experiences of World Cup host city Belo Horizonte
Atlético Mineiro midfielder Gilberto Silva has shared his experiences of Belo Horizonte as the city prepares to host the Confederations Cup and World Cup.
The 36-year-old Mineiro, who is a native of Minas Gerais State, recently returned to his homeland following nine years in Europe, with Arsenal and Panathinaikos, and a spell in Porto Alegre with Grêmio.
Silva previously spent two years with the Brasileirão club and says he is glad to be back, having missed his family, friends and the local food.
He told FIFA.com: "Well it’s good to be here. The things I missed most were my family, friends and those closest to me - people I’d always had around me and who I'd lost contact with. That’s the hardest thing about living abroad.
"When I first moved to London it was more complicated, as I didn’t speak English and I was staying in a hotel.
"The meals [while on club duty] were carefully controlled and lacked a bit of seasoning and flavour, but sometimes I managed to have a word with a Spanish or Portuguese-speaking waiter, who’d bring me rice with beef or eggs."
Belo Horizonte has been chosen as one of the twelve cities for the upcoming tournaments in Brazil, which Silva considers to be a great place to visit.
He added: "Even though I’m not from this city exactly, I know it well and really like it. Sure, the traffic can be a problem at times but it’s still a relaxed place to live.
"There are many restaurants and the nightlife is excellent. The culture is very rich too with many cinemas, theatres and show venues. It’s a very interesting scene."
The former Seleção star also shared his memories of playing at the Mineirão, which is the second largest stadium in Brazil and reopened its doors in January after a near three-year redevelopment project.
Silva said: "There was a game in 2001, against Cruzeiro, in the Brazilian National Championship. They were two-nil up but we managed to come back and draw.
"The Mineirão was full to the rafters with 84,000 people. It’s thrilling to see so many passionate fans and find yourself in the midst of it as one of the protagonists.
"It was nice seeing how much it had changed, and for the better. As fans we want every stadium to be of this standard, as that’s what Brazilian football needs.
"Hopefully the 2014 World Cup will bring standardisation to the stadiums, in terms of the pitches and general infrastructure.
"The dream of every Mineiro fan is to see Brazil play at the Mineirão."