Gilberto Silva On Winning The World Cup, Arsenal Success And Launching Striver

Gilberto Silva On Winning The World Cup, Arsenal Success And Launching Striver

An interview with Gilberto Silva, by Callum McFadden for WFi.

You have just launched a new social media platform, ‘Striver’ which is an abuse-free social media app primarily aimed at football fans. How excited are you by the launch of the platform?

“I am very excited by the launch of Striver for a number of reasons.

“Firstly, as a former footballer, I wanted to create a platform where football fans could interact with each other and also interact with their heroes in a safe space.

“The idea for Striver is to be a positive space for real interaction rather than a space filled with abuse and hatred like we have seen on other social media platforms over the last number of years.

“To do this, anything that is posted on Striver is moderated before it can be published which enables fans and players alike to enjoy the platform in the knowledge that they are in a space that can promote quality interaction and ensure their safety too.”

In terms of your playing career, you won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. What is it like to win such a prestigious competition with your country?

“My memories of that success with the the team remain fresh in my mind to this day, even if in reality it was now over 20 years ago.

“Winning the World Cup was a beautiful moment for me and for my teammates because it is special to represent your country on any occasion but to be able to do so and win the biggest competition in world football, that is another level of pride and honour.

“I love reminiscing with my teammates from that era about what we achieved in 2002 because it is not easy to win such a big prestigious competition that encompasses the very best footballing teams in the world coming together over a matter of weeks to compete for glory.

“From day one, when Luiz Felipe Scolari picked our squad for the tournament, we were united like a family for our country.

“From there, we travelled to Asia for the tournament, and we made sure that every day felt special within the tournament environment by making a real effort to connect with each other on and off the pitch and learn more about each other as people as well as professional players.

“Then, the challenge of the competition began with the games that we played in the group against Turkey, China and Costa Rica before we went on to face Belgium, England and Turkey once more to reach the final against Germany.

“We played every game with the mindset that we could win no matter who we played against and ultimately, it served us well because we went on to defeat Germany in the final to become World Champions.”

One of the standout memories of that team was that you all played with a smile on your face even in the most pressurised of games. How were you able to do that on the biggest stage of them all when the world is watching and analysing your every move?

“Our personalities shone through in any circumstance because that was how we behaved every day as a group.

“We created a happy environment with the national team and every one of us knew that we were in a unique position to be able to play football for a living. That is a special thing to be able to do and to represent your country doing so made it even more special to us.

“We never put pressure on ourselves. We allowed the outside world to do that for us while we just stayed true to ourselves and our values.

“We smiled when we trained, we smiled when we played games and we danced and shared moments of joy when we won. None of that was for show, it was our culture, and we are connected to our culture.

“You need to be happy to play well and you need to play well to be happy. That was the key to us as a group of players and that is how we seen life both on the field but also off the field too.”

You also achieved great success within club football by winning the Premier League at Arsenal while going unbeaten in a full league season. Does the achievement of being an ‘invincible’ become even more impressive as time goes on because it has never been repeated within English football since?

“For the players that I played with in that Arsenal team, it is a great compliment to us that we achieved such a unique level of success that has not been repeated since.

“It is not easy to go a season unbeaten at any level but to do it in the Premier League in an era when Sir Alex Ferguson was the manager of Manchester United was incredible.

“Added to that, teams like Liverpool and Chelsea also had strong teams that were competing at the highest level of European competition.

“It is nearly 20 years since that achievement and no other club has replicated it to date which showcased how tough it is to do.

“I am sure that another team will be able to do it in the future but to be remembered as the team who made it a reality, that is something that means so much to me and to the players and staff that I worked with at Arsenal.”

The goals of Thierry Henry were crucial to that team as was the relationship that you had with Patrick Vieira in the centre of midfield. What was Patrick like to play with in that role?

“Patrick and I had fantastic chemistry in midfield together and also with the other players in the team. I also had good chemistry with Edu and Ray Parlour when they played in midfield as did Patrick, so we had depth too.

“I understood Patrick’s strengths and he understood mine which made it easy to play to play as a partnership.

“If he went forward then he knew that I would be covering for him and vice versa. It was that that simple for us.

“Playing with top class footballers with intelligence makes playing football a joy. Added to that, we had a great drive to win and drove each other on each and every week.”

You won the World Cup under Luiz Felipe Scolari and the Premier League under Arsene Wenger. What were they like as coaches? What were their similarities and differences?

“Both of them had a strong winning mentality and the ability to guide players in the right direction. Any manager has to be able to improve players and that was a strength of Luiz and Arsene.

“They are both great managers as the success that they achieved shows.

“Everything was underpinned by hard work although they had very different personalities (laughs).

“I am grateful and proud to have played under both of them and achieved everything that we did together.”

You achieved title success in Brazil at Atletico Mineiro and in Greece with Panathinaikos. How did those experiences compare with your time in England?

“Those were also great experiences that I was fortunate to have in my career.

“Going to Greece after six years at Arsenal was a different challenge for me. It is not the same level as the Premier League, but it is very competitive, and I was determined to compete from the moment that I arrived.

“I wanted to help the players that I was playing with, mentor our younger players and deliver for the club as a whole.

“I received a lot of love from the Panathinaikos fans but also from Greek football fans in general. They were happy that a player like me choose to go and play in Greece, and I always respected that.

“I have great memories of Panathinaikos and also of Atletico Mineiro as they helped launch my career as a footballer and I ended my playing career there too.”

Finally, Gilberto, how can football fans access the Striver platform?

“It is very easy. The app is available on the App Store, the android store and also online.

“I actively use the app as does Roberto Carlos, Sol Campbell, Harry Maguire and many others current and former footballers.

“Our app uses highly advanced AI technology to moderate abuse and hate. With this safe space created, talent and fans alike have an environment where they can engage authentically as themselves.

“I hope that your readers download the app and join the platform as I have no doubts that they will enjoy the content that is produced and the authenticity of the app.”