Juliano Belletti can boast about scoring a winning goal in a Champions League final, winning a Premier League title at Chelsea and lifting the World Cup with Brazil.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that a man of such stature has plenty of influential and famous friends at the highest level of the game.
Indeed, that was made abundantly clear during a recent whirlwind tour of Europe.
It began with a visit to Manchester City to meet with directors Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, whom he got to know at Barcelona.
Then, he went to see former Chelsea youth coach Brendan Rodgers, who is now in charge at Leicester City.
After that, he took some career advice off his friend and compatriot Edu Gaspar, Arsenal’s technical director.
He wrapped things up with a trip to Barcelona to rekindle his relationship with the club that turned him into a world-class player.
For people in the UK, though, his connection to Chelsea remains the most curious.
Indeed, there was some surprise when he was linked with a sporting director vacancy at Stamford Bridge but Belletti is a good friend of Marina Granovskaia and his business skills are respected in west London.
Nothing ever came of the rumours, of course, not least because Belletti’s objective right now is coaching.
But the former Brazil international, who spent three years on the Blues’ books between 2007 and 2010, freely admits that he would be open to returning one day.
“My relationship with the club is fantastic,” Belletti tells GOAL.
“Since I went back to Brazil in 2010, my friendship and respect continued. I used to come back here a lot so a lot of people used to think this (returning as sporting director) could happen.
“They may still think that but it is more about having a good relationship with the club.
“I have a new objective now to be a coach. People keep seeing that I am travelling a lot but it is to maintain the relationships and carry them forward to be even stronger.
“I have Brazilian DNA but I understand the English game after playing it. So, if Chelsea need me, then I am ready. I love the country and city.”
However, working as an assistant coach at Cruzeiro has convinced Belletti that his future now lies in management.
Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t want to do things by halves. Belletti wants to be as good a coach as he was a player.
That means learning from his friends and watching matches like Chelsea’s recent 2-0 win over Tottenham, which he attended just after sitting down for this very interview to learn from Thomas Tuchel.
“For him to come in and have the audacity to change the whole system and how it works, it is spectacular,” Belletti enthuses.
“I respect him as a coach. I studied football, so I follow a lot of European teams and how they work.
“One of the teams I like to watch train the most is Chelsea because of the way Tuchel trains.”
As he sat in the plush VIP seats at Stamford Bridge, Belletti also saw Thiago Silva dominating a high-level English football match in the twilight of his career.
The centre-back’s move from Paris Saint-Germain was somewhat similar to Belletti’s transfer from Barcelona to Chelsea, in that both arrived at the end of their careers.
So, seeing his compatriot defy the ravages of time to turn in such an impressive performance brought back a lot of happy memories for Belletti.
“Anyone unsure about Thiago when he signed didn’t know him well enough,” the former full-back says. “He was such a high-level player. Of course, when you are old in this sport, then people doubt you.
“But, if you have the right coach, the right tactics for you and the correct people around you as a player, then this helps you to use your experience better.
“Thiago has the right manager, the right tactics, the right team-mates and the right club. At the same time, he gives back by helping through his experience to push the team forward.”
Belletti feels he drew on his own Champions League-winning experience to good effect at Chelsea.
Of course, the Blues were beaten in the 2008 final by Manchester United, but he thoroughly enjoyed his time at Stamford Bridge from start to finish.
“My three seasons at Chelsea were fantastic as both a player and a person,” he says. “It was the last stretch of my career.
“At that age, playing in that team with that group of Chelsea players against Manchester United in a Champions League final was a great achievement for me.
“Of course, I wish I had won it but, luckily, I won it two years earlier.”
That victory obviously came with Barcelona, who beat Arsenal in the 2006 final, with Belletti coming off the bench to net an 80th-minute winner in Paris.
His time at Camp Nou was obviously the most successful of his career in terms of major titles won, as he also picked up two Liga winners’ medals with the Blaugrana.
However, he also enjoyed spells at Cruzeiro, Sao Paulo, Atletico Mineiro, Fluminense and Ceara during a peripatetic career that spanned 17 years, so while he made his name in Europe, he knows the Brazilian scene inside out.
So, Belletti has some words of warning for Chelsea, who go into the upcoming Club World Cup as clear favourites, but could end up facing Palmeiras in the final.
“Palmeiras won the Copa Libertadores playing good football,” he points out. “They are a well-drilled, tactical team with a lot of intensity.
“Chelsea need to be careful because sometimes European teams don’t prepare as well as the South Americans and it can give those teams an edge.
“My warning is that Chelsea will find a very difficult opponent.”
While he will be an interested observer, for now his focus is on finding a new job, perhaps at one of his former clubs.
“My goal is to come back to Europe and work here,” he says.
“Edu said something to me that it is very rare to find players who were involved in such a high level who still want to get involved in this way.
“My motivation is to help my players and my team. I played at Villarreal, Barcelona and Chelsea. I have good relationships there.
“I have friends in Manchester City, Brendan Rodgers is my friend, and those teams I played for, or the people I know, could help. I must say that my history with Barcelona, in particular, is special.
“I’m working hard because I want to be an example in my household. I don’t want my four sons to see a retired footballer who just sits on the beach.”
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