It’s fair to say that birthdays in the family of a professional footballer are slightly different to normal.
When your dad is earning millions a year, it’s not a surprise to see jewelry, holidays and cars given as presents. However, two sons of Atletico Mineiro forward Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, nicknamed Hulk for his impressive physique, wanted something different this year: Nothing material; only a memory.
And the former Brazil international, 36, came through with something spectacular: a special video message from three of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game: Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“My children Ian and Tiago had their birthday 07/20, Ian 14 and Tiago 12 years old,” the Brazilian wrote on his Instagram. “And they asked me for nothing material as a gift, they wanted something unusual and surprising. As they are passionate about football, nothing better than being congratulated by the best in the world… Gratitude to the great idols and friends.”
Hulk started his career in Brazil before moving to Japan, but made his name in Portugal with Porto in 2008 before a €60 million transfer to Zenit Saint Petersburg in 2012. Another huge transfer to Chinese side Shanghai SIPG followed in 2016, where he reportedly earned over €400,000-a-week, but he left the club in 2021 to return to Brazil with Atletico Mineiro.
With 11 goals in 49 games for his national side, Hulk would have found fellow countryman Neymar pretty easy to persuade, but it’s less clear how he managed to get Argentina international Messi and Portugal’s Ronaldo to give up time in their busy schedules.
Perhaps the fear of a ‘Hulk Smash’ was enough? But dad is going to find it hard to top this one for his other two children!