The Brazilian defender reveals all about his Christmas in his native country.

We know Christmas is very important in Brazil, you have a special relationship with this time of year…
“It’s a little different for us, it happens in summer. Even if we live far from our families, we try to be together for Christmas. Playing in Europe, it’s difficult to see them. When you go home for Christmas, it’s a party, it’s great. We spend the day together and the next day we go to the beach to enjoy it.”

Is there a special Christmas present that you remember?
“Yes, it was a games console, the one I had dreamed of. It was brilliant. Being fascinated by football, my dad often gave me a ball, but it was incredible to get a present like that. I was always in my room with my brother. I spent more time at home than outside playing football.”

Which meal means Christmas to you?
“At my place, the typical meal is called Rabanada. It’s bread with milk, and we add a lot of sweet things before putting it in the oven. It comes out of it very hot, but it’s delicious. I miss it, even just talking about sets my mouth watering. We make it as a dessert for Christmas, it’s rare to eat it at any other time of the year.”

What’s on your list for Santa Claus?
“I’m very happy with the life I have outside football, but I’d like to win the Champions League and continue with the Brazil team as long as I can. At 34, it’s not easy, but I want to keep playing. I have a family with my wife and my two children, who are wonderful. They’re always with me, especially in difficult situations, they’re the ones who give me strength. It’s easy to be there when everything is going well.”