Six years ago, and freshly arrived at MFK Dinamo from Brazil, Pula, wrote himself into the Russian club's folklore by scoring a winner in the dying seconds of the UEFA Futsal Cup final against Interviú Madrid.
That remains Dinamo's only European title as they gear up to face Kairat Almaty in Tblisi today, equalling Interviú's record of five finals. Pula is now a Dinamo stalwart and Russian international, and hopes to end the day with another continental crown, having lost at this stage 12 months ago to FC Barcelona.
"I think we have become more mature," Pula told UEFA.com. "I cannot say that last year we were young and naive, but something has changed in our heads – we have taken a step forward. I hope we will also have a more serious approach. Besides, I was injured last year and now I am fully fit. I hope the team benefits from this."
Once Dinamo had beaten hosts Iberia Star Tbilisi 5-2 in Friday's semi-final – with Pula scoring twice – most were expecting Barcelona to set up a rematch of last year's decider. Instead, the holders fell 5-4 to Kairat. "Everyone considered Barcelona favourites, but in a cup competition, in finals, you can take nothing for granted," Pula said. "I believe that Barça weren't able to play their trademark game. At the same time, Kairat produced a magnificent display; it was their day.
"I would not say that Barça lost but rather that Kairat won because they played great. They were getting ready for it for so long; they've been striving for this for several years. One of the reasons for Barça's setback may also be that they failed to impose their rhythm early on. That was why they kept squandering their chances and failed to win."
As for Dinamo, who have already won the Russian Cup and topped the league regular season this term, the 32-year-old Pula reflected: "I am fully satisfied with our attacking game. We always manage to impose our rhythm and play with great intensity. What we probably lack is concentration in defence. You can work on that until the end of time!"
The man in charge of that work, though, is coach Faustino Pérez, already a two-time UEFA Futsal Cup winner with Playas de Castellón FS. "What makes him stand out from the other top coaches is how he conducts the psychological group work," Pula said. "He creates an atmosphere that suits all the players, where they feel comfortable."
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