Gilberto Silva: Former Arsenal midfielder reveals he didn't realise magnitude of winning the World Cup

The 2002 winner has spoken of the growing excitement in Brazil

Gilberto Silva has revealed that he didn't realise the magnitude of winning the World Cup and what it meant to the people of Brazil.

The midfielder, who played for Arsenal between 2002 and 2008, making him one of 'The Invincibles', won the World Cup with Brazil at the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

"It's still hard to believe that I won the World Cup for my country," he tells BT Sport in an upcoming documentary. "I was one of the younger players at the time and didn't really think about the responsibility. It was only when we returned to Brazil with the trophy that I understood what it meant to the people. For them football has always been a source of joy and hope."

The latest installment of football's greatest tournament is looming and despite reports of Brazil struggling to be ready in time for the June 12 kick-off, Gilberto says the excitement in his home country is growing.

"The World Cup is only a few weeks away now and I can tell you that everyone in Brazil is so excited. This is a country that lives for football. Take a walk anywhere in Brazil and you will see kids playing in the streets."

Gilberto was speaking as part of the latest documentary highlighting the work of The Supporters Club, BT Sport’s charitable initiative, which focuses on the Street Child World Cup and The Supporters Club’s backing for charities which sent teams there. The former Arsenal player, who worked in a factory as a youngster, drew parallels between the kids who took part in the tournament in Rio and his own experiences.

"Like many children growing up here I had quite a tough upbringing. My father had to work very hard to support me and my three sisters and every time I took to the field for Brazil I thought about my village, my parents and the streets where I came from because of how hard it had been to get there.

"I can't help but draw comparisons between my situation back in 2002 and the one that these kids taking part in the Street Child World Cup find themselves in now. I don't want to compare my life to theirs because I consider myself very fortunate. Some of these children have had to battle just to survive and be a part of the world but now they have the chance to feel happiness and to dream about the future."

Watch Gilberto discuss his upbringing in an exclusive clip from the documentary...

 

 

Gilberto continued: "Sport is so powerful in that way and football especially because it is played and recognised all over the world. To meet and spend time with the kids taking part in the Street Child World Cup was an honour for me and I could see how much the tournament had changed their lives. The football is really only a small part of that though. Yesterday they had nobody who cared about them, today they feel supported by the world. They believe that they could be a doctor or a teacher or whatever they want. Today they have the possibility to dream."

"In 2002 I became a hero in my country and I thank god for the all the gifts I have in my life. There are so many people suffering in the world and you have to help and do whatever you can. Meeting young men like Karthik and Majuto from India and Tanzania was very emotional for me. Their stories really touched me. They are amazing kids who are starting to believe in themselves with the help of the Street Child World Cup and BT's charity initiative The Supporters Club."

Gilberto Silva's Road to Rio airs on 5 May on BT Sport 1 at 10.15pm

Suggested Topics
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'