ABOVE: Danny Welbeck can’t wait to take on his Brazilian heroes
When I was growing up I was looking at Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo. I just loved watching them and their skills
DANNY WELBECK has revealed he's always been Brazil nuts.
The Manchester United star got up close and personal with the revered yellow and blue kit long before this Sunday’s Maracana date.
Welbeck has played in arguably the world’s most famous stadium a hundred times – before he woke up.
It might be the stuff of dreams, but this time it’s for real.
Welbeck, speaking on behalf of England team sponsor Vauxhall, said: “Me and my mates always had Brazil kits as kids – I suppose that just shows the power of the name Brazil.
“When I was growing up I was looking at Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo. I just loved watching them and their skills.
“They have always had great teams, great players and won World Cups and stuff.
“So to get the chance to go and play over there is something special.
“As a little kid you always look at Brazil. England is your first team, but there is something about Brazil that is cool so it will be good.”
Welbeck revealed that he’s actually turned out for ‘Brazil’ in a proper tournament – and, like his famous heroes, got to the final stages.
He explained: “Me, my mate Marcell and Cameron Stewart, who is now at Hull, had a three-a-side team and played in the Joga Bonito tournament run by Nike. I was 15 or 16 at the time.
“We bought Brazil kits and started playing in them. We actually got to the finals which were played at Highbury, but we lost.”
It’s been a highly successful but somewhat strange season for Welbeck, who has scored more goals for England this campaign than for United.
He’s only scored once for his club in the league but banged in three for his country.
United still went on to win the title and Welbeck is confident England will book their ticket for the Brazil World Cup next year despite a stuttering qualifying campaign.
Welbeck said: “We are still in a healthy position in the group.
“There is always that perception that you should be winning every game with England, but you can see from the Premier League week in week out how the results don’t always go how you think. The so-called lesser teams are beating the stronger teams and in a game of football strange things can happen in any 90 minutes. I am sure we’ll finish it off right.”
Welbeck added: “It is vital that we qualify for Brazil. It is a stage everyone wants to be on and every professional footballer wants to be playing in a World Cup. No one wants to miss out – and we’re no different.”
With 16 England caps and another title in the bag at United, Welbeck has shown he has the big-match mentality and says his goal record this season is something he’s looking to improve on.
“Talk of me scoring more for England than United is a bit unfair, but it is an area I want to improve,” he said.
“At Manchester United I have been playing all of my games from the wings anyway.
“If I need to help the team out by playing in other positions, I will do it, but I am aiming to get a better goal return from on the wings.”
Welbeck knows he can’t take his foot off the pedal next season with so much at stake.
He added: “I know I need to have a good Premier League season first and foremost but I want to make sure I have made a strong stake to be vying for a striker’s role at the World Cup as well.
“Playing regularly, scoring goals, having a good season, playing consistently. I know I will need to do all those things if I want to playing at the World Cup.”
Welbeck feels he’s standing up well to the pressures of being a high-profile star for both club and country.
“I feel I have coped pretty well. There is a lot of focus but you can’t think about that. You have to try and be yourself and not worry about what people are saying.
“People only see things they want to see and they don’t want to see the other side.
“They only see an expensive car or something else and it gets blown out of proportion.
“That is something you cannot change so there is no point worrying too much about it.”
Vauxhall are the official lead partner for England and all the Home Nations. For information go to: www.vauxhallfootball.co.uk