Gilette Brasil Global Tour

The Brazil forward concedes that international football came a little earlier than he anticipated, but is desperate to make the most of it

Bernard has revealed he didn’t expect to be a part of the Brazil side until the World Cup – in Russia, 2018!

The 21-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise to since breaking into the Atletico Mineiro first team in 2011, earning Brazilian football’s Best Newcomer award as he helped Galo to second place in Brasileirao 2012 before leading them to the Copa Liberadores last year.

He joined Shakhtar Donetsk following that triumph and admits he’s surprised international football came so early.

“I thought that in 2018 [I would have enough experience to play for Brazil], I had planned to take about three years to steady myself in football,” he told Esporte Espactacular.

“I have to be very thankful for the opportunities I've received. Having had such a short career so far, it’s amazing to have a shot at the World Cup in my own country.”

Bernard, who grabbed his first international goal against in November’s Gillette International Soccer Series victory over Honduras, has now been capped 10 times by his country and has his sights firmly set on helping Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side to the title this summer.

“You have to dream,” he says.

“I have to think that we can get to be in the final and win the title at the Maracana. It is the dream of every player to play a World Cup in their own country. It's a chance to make history, and I hope I make it.”

Standing just under 5ft 5in, the little man’s propensity to run straight at the markers who often tower high above him led Felipao to proclaim that the Shakhtar star has ‘joy in his legs’ - a statement Bernard says he found encouraging.

“I started to receive a lot of text messages: ‘Joy in the legs’, ‘the legs bring joy’. I didn’t know what it was about. Then they told me what he had said and I went to have a look. The moment I read the article I felt an incredible happiness.”

The youngster has been a constant in Scolari’s setup since the Confederations Cup and admits he is now beginning to feel at home, adding that he was pleased to get his initiation ceremony over with.

“I suffered! A lot,” he said, thinking back to the first time he stood up in front of his Brazil teammates to tell jokes and sing songs.

“This last time [in Miami and Toronto] I could relax a little because it was Marquinhos’ turn, who is two years younger than me. He really suffered and I was laughing.

"The others said, ‘Look, now Bernard is laughing.’ I told them, ‘you were laughing at me, now it’s my turn to laugh at others.’”

Brazil continue their Gillette Brasil Global Tour with a trip to Johannesburg to take on South Africa at Soccer City on March 5.