AnfieldRed's Exclusive Interview with Lucas Leiva

It's been quite a roller coaster ride for Brazilian Lucas Leiva since he made his was to Anfield from Gremio for around £5m during the summer of 2007.

Instead of getting an opportunity to learn the subtle nuances of the Premier League, Leiva has been throw into the fire in his second season with the club, after Xabi Alonso proceeded to shun his former club for the chance to play in Spain.

Many Liverpool fans have mixed views when when it comes to young Lucas Leiva. Some consider him to be a talented player who just hasn’t found his top quality yet; whilst, others have already labelled him a complete flop.

Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, it’s safe to say the young Brazilian is very much a part of Rafa Benitez’s future plans.

AnfieldRed had the chance to speak with Lucas recently to get his thoughts on a number of issues. From his feelings on living abroad in England to his struggles with acclimating to the rough-and-tumble world of the Premier League, the young Brazilian gives us a glimpse into his life playing for the Reds.

You have now been a Liverpool player for two years. How would you assess your career in England so far?

I feel I am finally getting adapted to English football and to the responsibility of wearing the Liverpool shirt. I admit there has been a rocky patch, but I am quite optimistic. I know I can repay the faith the club and the supporters put in me.

Do you feel we have seen your best performances yet? Is there more to come?

I am a young guy who is having his first experience playing abroad, so there is obviously a learning curve. I am feeling much more confident and I just hope to help Liverpool challenge for major honours as soon as possible. This is a massive club and you feel different when you step on the pitch to defend the club’s honour.

What have been the best and worst times for you since you arrived in England?

Some parts of last season were quite tough, but I look back to it as a chance to become better person and player. You can only learn to handle the criticism if you want to persevere in football. Losing our quarter-final against Chelsea in the Champions League also hurt me. As for the good moments, I like to remember scoring my first goal for Liverpool, in the FA Cup. The 4-1 drubbing we gave Manchester United at Old Trafford was also quite special. I hope to be naming more good moments soon…

Do you feel settled in Liverpool? Do you get homesick?

Liverpool is quite a different city from Porto Alegre, where I lived for a good part of my life. The weather is a bit too cold, but I have learned to appreciate what the city has to offer. Liverpool has amazing parks and restaurants and it is not a chaotic city like London. I am happy here, as much as I miss friends and family in Brazil.

Has the passion for the club in Liverpool surprised you? Has there been one incident that made you realise what the team means to the fans in the city?

Every time I walk onto the pitch at Anfield and see that sea of scarves, I feel butterflies in my stomach. People here are crazy about football. Liverpool fans seem to be a bit more passionate since they have been craving for the Premiership title. They are hungry!

Many players have struggled with the physical nature of English football at first. Do you think this is true for you?

It was nature to struggle a bit at the beginning, but I don’t think it has been a major issue, although the game here in England is so much faster than anywhere else. I like to think the differences are a good challenge, not a hurdle.

The fans have had an up and down relationship with you. Have you convinced them yet that you are a great player?

In a club like Liverpool it’s like trying to play for Brazil: you have to fight your corner at every game. The fans will be by your side if they trust you but you can never take them for granted. I believe I have proved to Liverpool fans that I’m willing to sweat blood for this team and to try and make the crowd happy.

Who has been your toughest opponent in the Premier League so far?

There is no such thing as an easy opponent in the Premier League, but there are some special battles. Frank Lampard is guy that I admire for his combination of qualities. The guy is tough, intelligent and skilful.

Xabi Alonso has left the club. Do you view this season as your big chance to establish yourself as a first-team regular?

We will certainly miss a guy like Xabi but it is now a chance for me to step up and show my work. It is a big chance, obviously, but I am more concerned with how Liverpool can win trophies than being a replacement for him.

Were you surprised when you heard he had left the club and joined Madrid?

These things happen in football and are personal decisions. All I can say is that Xavi’s departure is a loss, but a team like Liverpool cannot depend on one player. Even Stevie Gerrard and Fernando Torres are guys who need the rest of the team behind them. We are going to win things by being a team, not by being a collection of talents.

Can you win the Liverpool fans over and become as popular as Xabi?

Popularity is a consequence of your work and I believe I can show the fans how committed I am. It’s pointless to merely compare players. Xavi’s departure means that I have to be more versatile because sometimes I will need to play alongside Mascherano and other times with Stevie, which will demand different tactical roles for me.

It was a quiet summer for Liverpool for new signings. Do you feel you needed to make more transfers or do you believe the squad is strong enough?

We have a strong group with quality players. Splashing cash is not always the solution to winning trophies.

What are your personal ambitions / targets for the rest of the season?

I want to be part of Liverpool history and one way would be by helping the team win the Premier League. I also need to have a great season because of Brazil. The World Cup is around the corner and I want to be part of it. For my family it’s a bit more special, as my uncle, Leivinha, was in the Brazilian squad for Germany 1974 and I want to emulate him.

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