Brazil football legend Gilberto Silva described the FIFA Confederations Cup visit to Auckland as an “amazing experience”.
The FIFA World Cup winner, two-time FIFA Confederations Cup champion and a member of the Arsenal “Invincibles” squad came to New Zealand in March with the FIFA Confederations Cup trophy as part of the countdown to the ‘Tournament of Champions’ in Russia in June.
Silva, a defensive midfielder who played in every minute of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan which Brazil won, had an illustrious club and international career and enjoyed every minute of meeting All Whites and Arsenal fans.
All Whites legend Ivan Vicelich, who played in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, accompanied Silva on the trophy visits.
“It has been an amazing experience,” said Gilberto Silva on his last day in Auckland.
“For me to come to New Zealand with the FIFA Confederations Cup to tour the trophy has been great. The weather has been great, the people have been really friendly and welcoming and it is clear that there is a lot of excitement here about the FIFA Confederations Cup.
“It’s a competition that every nation wants to play in because it is a competition of champions. The games that they are going to play, New Zealand are there because they deserve to be there.
“I hope the New Zealand team enjoy the experience as much as they can, that the players who go there are very committed and do their best for their country. Their fans are very excited to see them in the FIFA Confederations Cup.”
The former captain of Brazil came to Auckland as the All Whites have qualified for the FIFA Confederations Cup after winning the OFC Nations Cup in Papua New Guinea last June.
Vicelich, who played a record 88 internationals for New Zealand during his illustrious career said it was a special occasion to talk football with one of the game’s legends.
“It was very special to have Gilberto here with us,” said Vicelich. “He’s won the World Cup, he won the Confederations Cup twice, and he has been a superstar at Arsenal. To have someone of that pedigree is very special. To have him at the same time as the Confederations Cup is even better. He has been able to kick-start the campaign for New Zealand.”
Silva and Vicelich began the tour with a meet and greet with All Whites coach Anthony Hudson and midfielder Clayton Lewis where they shared their memories of the FIFA Confederations Cup and offered some advice for the ‘Tournament of Champions’.
The pair were centre stage at a media scrum in Auckland’s Viaduct, and visited a number of media houses before attending the Auckland U-17 tournament at Seddon Fields in Westmere.
Silva was on hand to present the medals to all the players from the day and also had many photos with the football community with the FIFA Confederations Cup.
To cap off the first day of the tour, Silva took a trip up Mt Eden to take in some of the spectacular views over Auckland City.
On the final day, Silva and Vicelich went out for lunch with two competition winners through New Zealand Football’s Facebook page in Auckland’s Viaduct and then visited some kids at Starship Hospital to show them the trophy and talk about their football careers.
“Going to Starship was a very special experience,” said Silva. “It is moments like that which put everything into perspective and to put a smile on some of the kid’s faces was a great moment for me.”
The All Whites, who are getting ready for OFC Stage Three Qualifiers against Fiji later this month, will face Russia at the opening match, Mexico and Portugal at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in June.
The FIFA Confederations Cup was established in 1992 and is contested by the holders of each of the six regional championships (UEFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, CAF, AFC, OFC), along with the FIFA World Cup holder and the host nation, to bring the number of teams up to eight.
Brazil are the current champions and the most successful team in the history of the FIFA Confederations Cup with four titles.
All Whites fixtures pre-FIFA Confederations Cup
2 June v Northern Ireland in Belfast, Northern Ireland
7 June v Club side (closed game) in Dublin, Republic of Ireland
12 June v Belarus in Minsk, Belarus
2017 FIFA Confederations Cup – All Whites draw
17 June 6pm (3am 18 June NZT) v Russia, St Petersburg Stadium,
21 June 9pm (6am 22 June NZT) v Mexico, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
24 June 6pm (3am 25 June NZT) v Portugal, St Petersburg Stadium