FC Porto striker Hulk cannot wait to have a shot at FC Barcelona in Friday's UEFA Super Cup, saying: "Every match is a test for us, a chance to prove just how good we really are."
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Hulk's form was so devastating at times last term, even opposition supporters applauded him. For the Portuguese Liga's player of the season, the aim now is to keep on winning – starting in the UEFA Super Cup against FC Barcelona.
FC Porto have a rich history in Europe. How did it feel to help write a new chapter in Dublin with victory against SC Braga in the UEFA Europa League?
Hulk: It was a privilege. We had a fantastic season, but we are already focused on this year's campaign and know we will have to work even harder if we want to achieve the same success as in 2010/11. We are back in the UEFA Champions League and that means we will need to be at the top of our game.
What are your memories of that night?
Hulk: The memories start way before the final. Actually, it all started with our first match in the competition, because right from the start we told ourselves it was possible to win the trophy. Of course, that night in Dublin was the highlight, but for me the entire campaign was special. If I had to single out one memory of our UEFA Europa League campaign, I would probably pick the match at Beşiktaş [a 3-1 win in the group stage]. It was unbelievable to see their fans applauding me after I scored a goal. It came as a surprise.
Describe what it was like to get your hands on the trophy.
Hulk: It was a moment of pure glory. It felt a bit like receiving a present but a priceless one. When you win a European club competition as important as the UEFA Europa League, you know it is an experience that will be with you for the rest of your life. When I lifted the trophy, I just thanked God for the opportunity to have realised a dream. I immediately wanted to share that glory with all the people who helped us get there.
What was the key to your success as a team?
Hulk: I would say the togetherness of everyone involved in the project. There are no golden secrets in football, but when each player shows up for every training session with the will to give everything for the good of the team, that brings success.
How excited are you about facing Barcelona?
Hulk: I'm really happy just to have the opportunity to play in a competition as important as the UEFA Super Cup.
My team-mates and I couldn't be more motivated for the match against Barcelona, undoubtedly one of the best teams in the world, and we will do everything in our power to bring the trophy back to Portugal.
How big a test is this for Porto to measure yourselves against the best as you look ahead to the new UEFA Champions League season?
Hulk: Every match is a test for us, a chance for our team to prove just how good we really are. Of course, this clash with Barcelona will be very important, not only because there's a trophy to win but also because we're facing the reigning European champions. However, the objective remains the same: to win. We have already won the Portuguese Super Cup and now we'll try to do the same in Monaco, but if things don't go our way we'll just have to raise our heads and keep on working. That's football.
How excited are you to be playing in the UEFA Champions League this season?
Hulk: You are talking about the best players and teams in the world, so playing in a competition like that can only make you feel ecstatic. The best teams, best players, best stadiums – what more can you ask for?
Porto have a new coach this season. How have things changed under Vítor Pereira?
Hulk: I really think that nothing has changed. Our coach was already working with us last season and the truth is he helped us a lot in that campaign, giving priceless advice to all the players. We already knew his working methods and that made things easier for everyone. In terms of footballing style, I don't think the team has changed.
What sort of a coach is he?
Hulk: He listens to the players and talks with them to help them. He is very demanding and each player knows he has to give 100% to satisfy the coach. Working this way always gives him a positive dilemma as he always has two or three players for each position to pick from.
This article is from the official UEFA Super Cup programme. Purchase your copy here.