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Belletti Interview


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Fri, 28th Dec 2007

A hectic Christmas period might be the norm here in England, but for newcomers to these shores this time of year can come as quite a shock, as Juliano Belletti exclusively reveals.

The right-back signed for the Blues in late August, and has since been showing fans that the best way to defend is often to attack. So much so that it has become as expected to see the Brazilian getting to the opposition's by-line to make a cross as it is to see him covering his defensive partners at our own end.

It is a role that comes naturally to Belletti, as he confirms:

'As a right back, Brazilians normally get forward. When we have space we go and help the attack,' he reasons.

'At Chelsea we have good players for this, when I go Shaun Wright-Phillips or Joe Cole stay in my position, it's different from Barcelona. There, nothing, they were always attacking. Here I have more trust to go and attack.'

This licence to roam is one the 31-year-old clearly relishes, and he has already proven his comfort with getting into advanced positions with his goal up at Wigan in early November, a 25-yard screamer that left Latics goalkeeper Chris Kirkland with no chance.

The second Brazilian to sign on at Stamford Bridge this summer, Belletti is grateful to his team-mates for the role they have played in helping him settle in his new surroundings, particularly the Portuguese contingent.

'It's not easy coming to a new country you don't understand, so Hilario, Paulo [Ferreira] and Ricardo [Carvalho] are helping a lot. It's not easy,' he confesses.

'When I came to Chelsea I thought it would be easier, but it is difficult, though the players help me every day, so I feel more comfortable.'

When it is mentioned that Alex had partly attributed his speedy adaptation to English life to his fellow Brazilian, Belletti, who speaks stronger English than his compatriot, appears a little shy.

'We help each other!' he says. 'Alex has it more difficult because his family has been in Brazil, this is very difficult, but it's life,' he smiles.

Belletti has been fortunate to be joined in England by his own relatives, and was pleased they were able to join him at Christmas, not that he'll be seeing too much of them this festive period.

'It's different, when I play in Brazil or Spain we always have days off over Christmas and New Year,' he says, 'but my family is here, my brothers are in London, so it's different and it's new.

'I like to play. Every football player likes to play football, but it is necessary some days to rest. This year we have a lot of players and it's very important in this moment. We have many injuries, including John Terry and Didier Drogba, but Avram still has a lot of players to choose from.'

In the right-back position, Avram Grant again has two specialists to choose from as Paulo Ferreira has returned to fitness following an ankle surgery that had left Belletti as an automatic choice.

Now though, there is healthy competition for places, and Belletti is happy to do battle with his friend, but knows it will be tough to win his place back.

'We get on well,' Belletti smiles. 'Never in my life when I compete for a position have I had problems with another. At Barcelona, I was up against Gianluca Zambrotta, no no, never. It's a friendly rivalry, it's normal.'

'It's different. When I came to Chelsea, Mourinho asked me to come here, and he trusted me a lot. We were talking when I came and he said: "You're easy, you play here, I trust you, close your eyes and you play well, I know this." The trust is important for a player, and I have trust in myself.'

Not only is it important for a new player to feel confident in himself and at home with his team-mates, it helps to be comfortable out on the pitch, surrounded by supporters.

So far, Belletti has been amazed at what he has seen from the Stamford Bridge crowd, and can't get enough of the atmosphere.

Having arrived from one of the most famous and biggest stadiums in Europe, this shows just how well the Chelsea fans have been performing this season.

'It's different, very good, very nice,' he says. 'In Barcelona the people were more calm, they don't sing a lot. I like this one more, the supporters play with the players, it's very, very nice.'

While he is glad to be here, it would be impossible not to look back upon his time at the Nou Camp with a smile.

The main reason for the fond memories of Barcelona is the goal that sealed Belletti's place in Barca folklore, the one that clinched the Champions League trophy against Arsenal in 2006.

'I won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, but nobody remembers this!' he laughs. 'The people always talk about this goal because it was against Arsenal. I had a great year in the Champions League, played in the semi and quarter-finals, but in the final I started from the bench.'

'I was never thinking I would get on, when you start on the bench at right-back, you never think you will get on, and Arsenal were 1-0 up, but Frank Rijkaard called me saying "you go in and try go do your best, make good passes and crosses", and then there I was in front of goal.

'This goal changed my life and I am in Barcelona history now, I am like a hero there. In my position, this never happens, but it's good, a new sensation. The people from Barcelona always thank me for the goal, and say it was the best day of their life!'

That was certainly a better Champions League season than the one before, in which he scored his first ever Chelsea goal, an own goal in the game that preceded the 4-2 epic at Stamford Bridge a fortnight later.

As he says himself, his international exploits are far less widely recognised. Although unused in the final itself in 2002, due to the continuing brilliance of veteran Cafu, Belletti did make a brief appearance in the semi-final.

In total he has 23 caps for his country, scoring two goals, and he insists he can still do a job if called upon by national coach Dunga.

'It's very difficult because Dunga changed the play, he called the young players in, only Edmilson and another one are in there,' he explains. 'I think it's a good thing, but in my opinion players like Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos are players who can play good football and don't have the trust of Dunga, Ronaldinho is almost always on the bench, like at Barcelona too, so it's different.

'I've not thought a lot about getting back into the international team, but if Dunga called me I would go, no problem.'

For now though, Belletti will be happy to be back in the Chelsea 11 on a regular basis, roaring down the right flank with the sound of Stamford Bridge in his ears.

Source: Chelsea Fc

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