The Brazilians are coming to Star Sixes – and Gilberto Silva believes they will be followed by the world’s most vibrant support.
Former Arsenal star Silva is one of the latest signings to Star Sixes, the inaugural tournament for former internationals to be played at The O2 London in July.
Silva joins Roberto Carlos and former Chelsea full-back Juliano Belletti in a Brazil squad that will take on the likes of England, Germany, France and Spain in the 12-nation tournament.
He played for six years at Arsenal where he was one of their ‘Invincibles’ going unbeaten throughout the 2003-04 Premier League season and also featured several times in London for Brazil, so he is certain their fans will turn out in numbers, bringing their unique samba style with them.
And Silva is also looking forward to the four-day six-a-side competition, which kicks off on Thursday 13 July.
“Brazilian people love football, and whenever there is a chance to support their team, they will be there,” he said. “They always enjoy the occasion, and make plenty of noise!”
“I’m very excited to be taking part and coming back to London, which is a special place for me, like my second home.”
As well as his former international teammates, Silva will catch up with Arsenal colleagues Robert Pirès, William Gallas and Jens Lehmann, who are playing for their own countries.
“It is always great to meet up with the guys, and we can have a lot of fun catching up as well as playing against each other. It will be fun but competitive.”
And that is the key for Silva – the genuine edge that will be on display. “You miss competitive football when you retire, so this is a great chance to get that feeling again, playing in a tournament with big countries and great players up against each other. The fans will have big expectations, and so will we.”
Meanwhile, Italy have also unveiled the first icon in their Star Sixes squad – former AC Milan keeper Christian Abbiati.
Joining the Rossoneri in 1998, where he remained until his retirement last year, aside from loan spells at Juventus, Torino and Atlético Madrid, Abbiati was part of three Serie A-winning sides as well as their 2003 Champions League success. He also holds Milan’s record for the most appearances by a goalkeeper having turned out more than 300 times.
After being in the Italy squads at EURO 2000, where they finished runners up, and at the 2002 World Cup as back up to Gianluigi Buffon, Abbiati made his full international debut in 2003 and was capped four times.
Silva and Abbiati will go head to head on the opening night of Star Sixes as Brazil take on Italy in their Group B encounter at The O2.