By Rodrigo Calvoso & Rupert Fryer, Goal.com
Confederations Cup hero Fred has used a choice Brazilian phrase to describe his burning desire to play at next year's World Cup, vowing to "kill a lion every day".
The 29-year-old enjoyed a "magical" 2012-13 campaign, topping the Brasileirao goalscoring charts to lead Fluminense to the title before striking twice in Brazil's Confederations Cup final victory over Spain.
“Of course, the closer the World Cup gets, the more the anxiety rises," Fred told Goal. "I’m very happy to have been part of this winning group at the Confeds, but I know I have to kill a lion every day and continue to prove that I deserve a spot in the Brazil team for the next 10 months.
“Last year was magical. Fluminense’s Brasileirao campaign was amazing. And so was my time with the Selecao. Both [coach Luiz Felipe] Scolari and [Team Director Carlos Alberto] Parreira supported me, kept me relaxed and trusted my ability, which allowed me to show my very best.
"We are on a great run with Brazil and we won this Confeds by beating some of the top international sides in the world - Spain, Italy and Uruguay."
Fred was joint top-scorer at the Confederations Cup with five goals, and with the dress rehearsal having been an unrivaled success, he’s determined to retain his starring role at the main event.
In order to do so, he’s targeting more trophies at the club level. Since returning home from Lyon in 2009, his goals have helped catapult Flu from a relegation candidate to league champion in 2010 and 2012.
“It was very intense at the beginning,” he admits. "But not any more. Now we always want to win, and earn more titles. Every player needs that competitive spirit, which is something that never should be lost.
“The affection shown by the fans is very moving and makes me realize what I represent for this team. I’ll only fully understand it once I retire and see all of this from a certain distance. But I’m very happy at Fluminense. The club has adopted me as a son. The opportunity to wear the shirt of such an enormous club is a natural motivation."
Fred's performances in the Fluminense shirt have earned him a number of suitors. He has never been one of football’s nomads and insists he is happy where he is, but admits he cannot rule out a potential return to Europe.
“I’ve only played for four clubs. A lot of players much younger than me have already featured for 10 or 15 teams," he notes.
“I have no reason to think about leaving. But I don’t know if one day president Peter [Siemsen] and Mr. Celso [chairman of Unimad, the sponsor responsible for paying the club’s top earners] will call me and say that there is an offer that can’t be turned down.”
Fred's exploits saw him finish 13th in the Goal 50, above compatriot Neymar and stellar names such as Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani and Andres Iniesta.
“It’s an honor to be on a list with such great players,” Fred enthused. “I’m very happy that I’ve been remembered like this. It shows that my work and that of my club and country was well done. It’s hugely satisfying.
“It’s no surprise that the big European clubs come to Brazil to look for talent. This Goal 50 nomination shows that. I want to thank the Fluminense faithful for their affection and also the Brazilian fans for all their support during the Confederations Cup. A big hug to all of you - I hope that together we can win big things for both Flu and the Selecao!"