Hulk: My team-mates are part of my familyThe 27-year-old will be in action for Zenit in the Champions League on Wednesday night
In an interview with Gillette Brasil Global Tour, the Brazil forward has been talking about his time at Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg as well as the Seleção’s chances at the this year's World Cup.
Hulk has not had it easy since joining Zenit for €40 million in 2012. He received death threats, his sister was kidknapped and his new team’s captain walked out over the money spent on the Brazilian.
His form suffered and the former Porto marksman found himself in and out of Mano Menezes’ Brazil squad.
18 months later and the 27-year-old has nine goals in 16 appearances for his club this season and has rediscovered his form for the Selecão.
"Felipao gives me total freedom to play to the best of my abilities."
"I’m getting a lot of compliments, especially from him, and that’s given me a lot of self-confidence."
"I think I've sometimes struggled to recreate my club form with Brazil in the past but at the moment I seem to be playing well."
"I'm used to playing out on the right for Zenit. I also played out there a lot for Porto. But as I said, Felipão gives me total freedom when I'm with Brazil so I'm often inter-changing with Neymar or Oscar and that really helps. We really enjoy that."
"Scolari is just an incredible guy off the pitch. He is someone who knows only too well how to handle us. So I think that our friendship off the pitch is the real secret to our success."
"We saw how amazing the spirit looked between the players in 2002 when we followed the games on TV and we're enjoying that same spirit here at the moment. So I think that's something Felipao does well – along with [Carlos Alberto] Parreira and the rest of the coaching staff – creating this wonderful atmosphere."
"My team-mates aren't work colleagues – they're part of my family," he says.
"We were chatting about this and we were all saying, 'it's such a shame that we're only together for two or three days this time – I wish it could be a week.'"
"It’s an atmosphere that I’ve never seen before. It’s just so much fun. I think we’re laughing or joking around 24 hours a day, so it’s impossible not to enjoy yourself."
"We have to take that atmosphere on to the pitch with us – this strong team spirit that helps us gel – and together with the amazing support of our fans, who have been like a 12th player for us, I think it will all help us do well at the World Cup," he completed.