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28.03.2009 12:10

Sylvinho: “I’m happy with the team and with myself”

Berta Brau

The Brazilian fullback has moved into the limelight as a result of Abidal’s injury. In an interview with Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat, Sylvinho talks about his recent performances and the team’s prospects of a triple crown.

The interview reflects the Sylvinho we have all come to know: affable, open and articulate. He told us: “I’m happy with the team and with myself. Barça will have many chances to qualify (for the semis) against Bayern”.

You’ve always said that you’re the kind of player that always likes to work flat out. And right now you’re in great form.

sylvinho-fcb-mallorca-copa_x4x.jpg“That’s true. I think everyone has their own way of dealing with things and time, above all these last four years, has taught me to manage these situations a little better. We all know the season is very long and somebody who’s training well will have a part of the season when it’s his turn to play more matches and when the coach and the team need him. I believe that the honest way to work is to be with the team and your team-mates and be ready when it’s your turn. You have to be ready, whether it’s at the beginning, middle or end of the season, and you have to perform”.

Since Abidal got injured, you’re playing a lot. How do you see yourself now that you’re in the starting line-up in the league? Would you criticise yourself for anything?

“There’s always criticism. In many aspects I’m very happy up to now. It’s true that the season has plenty to go and the best and the most important is still to come. But if I have to make an analysis, I would say that I’m happy with the team and with myself. In addition, recently I’ve been able to play and grow in confidence. I think it’s been very good to be able to play these matches and do things well. Your team-mates end up having more confidence in you and the boss does as well”.

You talk about confidence. For many people you are the epitome of commitment. You’ve been here for five years and you haven’t stopped working for a single day.

Sylvinho141008.jpg“Yes. I believe that time has taught me to manage this type of situation. It’s more usual, unfortunately, for a footballer to throw in the towel one week or one month because at certain moments you lose form or psychologically you defocus. The last few years have taught me that and I’ve always been the kind of footballer that likes to play every minute. Bit by bit, time has taught me things and if I can I also try and help a player or a team-mate, explaining things and encouraging him. I believe it’s important to be able to help your team-mates and bring them back into the group. Apart from that I do it because it comes naturally to me and I love doing it”.

A veteran player like you, how prepared is the team for what’s coming up? It’s a pretty tough month and a half.

“Being a veteran I’ve already seen the fixture calendar. I’ve seen the matches. If we go through and do well against Bayern, it seems we’re going to play 13 matches in a row. We don’t stop. We need the whole squad and the boss will manage this because he’s a very intelligent person and knows how to play with this”.

You were talking about Bayern, one of the most important obstacles in your path to be able to play these 13 matches. How do you see it?

“Good. The small disadvantage we have against Bayern is playing the second leg away from home. But that can’t be a sign that’s it’s over and done with. No, it’s still very open. They’re a tough opponent, being German, always a very positive team, very strong and they won’t give up at any point of the tie. They are very strong physically, but I believe we can build up a good lead in the first leg in the Camp Nou. I also believe that with the slightest chance we can make life difficult for them in Munich. So it’ll be a very open tie, very complicated, very physical, with some great players on the pitch. It’s going to be a difficult tie but we’re going to have our chances to go through”.

Guardiola’s strategy is to take it one game at a time. Is that the best way to face this final part of the league?

DECLES_SYLVINHOcat.jpg“In football, that’s the only way there is. One slip-up, a poor week of training, and when you want to get back on track you can’t. The opponent can do you a lot of harm. That’s where the philosophy comes from. Not just Guardiola’s, but all trainers. That’s football”.

But isn’t it inevitable you think about the matches ahead?

“Of course it’s inevitable to have it on your hard disk but if you’re intelligent you know how to manage the situation better and if we want to be league champions we just have to win matches. Each league match is like a Cup final. There aren’t any matches where you can take it easy and go at half gas. You have to go flat out in every game. We know there’s a ‘Cup’ final, that there’s Bayern. That’s recorded on the hard disk for the right moment”.

Are you all optimistic about the possibility of a triple crown? Are you strong enough to do it?

sylvinho-fcb-shaktar.jpg“We’re optimistic and we’re working towards it. When people say that a particular competition wears you out more, it is a paradox because we all want to go as far as possible in every competition. Matches accumulate but you have to keep going. We’re optimistic and we’ve got desire”.

If the team has to take this last part of the season one game at a time, what about the fans?

“It’s an important fact that at home we’re even stronger. This worries our opponents and that’s an advantage. The fans are responding really well. They support us a lot, they help us, and we’re getting stronger and stronger”.
Sylvinho: “I’m happy with the team and with myself”

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The voice of experience
From your point of view, how do the youngsters of 18, 19 or 20 get along with the veterans?

“That’s a tough story. Firstly, because I'm reminded of my father a lot. He told me: “Don’t go to the beach because you can drown”. And at the age of 15 I told him that I would go where I wanted, that I was strong, brave and with all the strength in the world. The years pass and today, with two children, I realise that my father was absolutely right. And I tell my children exactly what my father told me. . Relationships are a bit like this because a young man at the age of 19 or 20 thinks he can do anything and nothing can stop him. But bit by bit you can talk, they get a bit closer and they also realise that they can rest, look after their diet… In short, loads off things that are going to help because footballers who are still playing at the age of 35, 36, and 37 and can compete and extend their careers in top class clubs are few and far between because they need this approach. They’ll realise in the end”.

I suppose it goes both ways. The veterans can teach things as you said before but can the youngsters teach you things?

“Yes, I believe it’s two-way, that’s true. When you’re open to listening and learning, you can always learn. I never pull down the blinds. Any lad of 17, even if he doesn’t say anything to me, just with a gesture or a look can teach me something. A veteran isn’t always right”.

What do you say to youngsters like Bojan or Busquets at this important stage of the season?

“As the years pass, people gain experience faster and faster. It’s madness, people aged 19 and 20 living through moments like these, in a squad like FC Barcelona. They’re capable people. That’s why they are where they are. Let them enjoy it, enjoy like children, but responsibly”.

What were you like compared to now when you started playing football?

“I didn’t have any responsibility for titles or results. I was single, I returned home, ate with my mother and went with all the happiness and not a care in the world to training. A young player. I enjoy myself now but responsibly. It’s my profession but I didn’t go into it as a veteran. A veteran thinks about everything, how this person is or the other, how many cards so-and-so has received… and a youngster doesn’t. I enjoyed myself like now but before it was much easier because I wasn’t in charge the way some players here are. Over time this changes. The more veteran you are the more you think about it all”.

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