Exclusive interview with Portugal international Hugo Almeida

During the international break The South American Football Show in association with The Independent took a trip to the old continent to talk to Hugo Almeida. Portugal’s powerhouse striker told us about playing against Chile's La Roja, playing for the Special One and playing amongst Turkish Delight...

Hugo you have just played a pair of matches against Chile and Finland for Portugal. Was it good to get back home?

It’s always a pleasure for me to get the chance to spend time in Portugal and work with the national team. I enjoyed the game against Chile, I think it was the first time I had played against them and I was impressed by their quality. It was good to see both teams playing some nice football. Chile is a young team, like us, and they have lots of good international players at top clubs in Europe. I think the draw was a fair result and I look forward to playing against them again.

It was important for us to beat Finland and I was pleased to a part of the 2-0 win for the 90 minutes. It was good to have these two games this week and show the fans that we are moving in the right direction.

You have also been up close and personal with Argentina recently, how was that game for you?

Before you even play against Argentina you already know it’s going to be a top, top game. If I’m being honest though, the game was not so good for me. I missed an incredible chance in that match, the worse miss I have ever made in my career I think. The defender was stepping on my foot at the time but I still think I should have scored in that situation. As for the rest of the game, I was feeling comfortable and I always enjoy playing against the world’s best players.

Onto club football and your Besiktas team had a great 4-2 home victory before the international break. Is this a sign of better things to come from the Turkish outfit?

It was an important win over Kayserispor and I was happy to get two goals in the game. Those goals were important for the team and also for me personally. I’m a new face at Besiktas and sometimes its not so easy when you change clubs, change city and change country. Getting those two goals gives me a lot of confidence that I can get more goals for the team.

Former Real Madrid boss Bernd Schuster recently stepped down as boss of Besiktas. We want to know, what effect does it have on a player when the man who signed him leaves a club so soon after making the transfer?

It’s the first time I’ve been in this situation and yes it can be tough to deal with. I moved to Besiktas because of many reasons and the coach was one of those factors. It was because Schuster wanted me in the first place that I got my move to Besiktas. It was difficult moment when he left but we all know anything is possible in football. Life goes on and you have to put your head down and work hard for the new coach. You have to hope the new coach also has faith in your ability and will give you the opportunity to play.

Turkey’s Süper Lig is famous around the world for the intensity of the fans. How did it feel when so many fans came to meet you at the airport when you first arrived?

I really didn’t know what to do or say. The airport was full of fans that were screaming and singing songs. It’s wonderful to see because these guys really love football so much.

And what are your impressions of the overall quality in the Turkish league?

The Turkish league is strong with lots of good players and great teams. At Besiktas we have lots of quality, players like my international teammates Simao and Ricardo Quaresma. At Fenerbache they have Uruguayan captain Diego Lugano and Alex from Brazil. There are good players at every team and that makes it a competitive league. That’s one of the main reasons I enjoy playing in Turkey.

As a striker with a bit of everything you have often been asked to play as a lone striker, is this a role you enjoy?

In all seriousness, I just prefer to play. This is all I want to do, I want to play in every game I can. For me it’s no problem if I’m asked to play with a partner or alone. The important thing for me is just to play.

You’re still only 26-years-old and now we know we speak fluent English, could a move to the Premier League be on the cards?

Of course playing in England is something I would like to do. It’s a great league and I like it a lot. I can’t say what my future will bring, but yes I would like to play in England someday.

Someone who knows England and you very well is Jose Mourinho. What can you tell us about Mourinho, the manager and the man?

Jose Mourinho is special, for me he’s the best coach in the world. He’s a very intelligent man and he also gets on really well with the players. He always fights on the side of his players and this is very important. The players appreciate having a coach giving them that kind of support.

Hugo Almeida was speaking to Alejandro Pérez and Tim Sturtridge, hosts of The South American Football Show in association with The Independent. Click here for more details.