Stefan Nigro managed to snag Hulk’s jersey after their 2-1 win over Shanghai SIPG saying it was out of mutual respect and for a memory that will live long in his career.
Victory prevailed in their final Asian Champions League (ACL) game this year as Kevin Muscat made seven changes from the team that started against Sydney FC last week for the dead rubber clash.
Nigro managed 90 minutes under his belt and was on his guard when Brazilian international Hulk came on at half-time for teenager Chen Binbin.
At one stage the boy from Ballarat found himself hitting the deck taking on Hulk and later he asked him for his jersey.
“I played on him and I know Chrissy (Theoharous) got Oscar’s top in the first leg, I wasn’t really star-struck,” Nigro told FourFourTwo post-match.
“It was more that I played on him, it was more of a respect thing and just for the memory. In football you want to do the job and win.
“After the game, you think ‘why not?’. Keep it as a memory of playing against a world class player, what he’s done with Brazil, he’s played in Europe and now in China. I’m proud to have played against such a quality player.”
Nigro also said it was a good test for him physically after Hulk managed to barge his way through some of the Victory players.
“He’s a beast and he flattened me a few times and he flattened Kenny (Athiu) who’s probably the strongest on our team, he was just everywhere,” he said.
“In the heat of the moment, as a defender, you want to nullify him. You don’t want to let him do his thing, you just need to try your best.
“He didn’t seem to be starting, so I wasn’t sure if he’d play. I wasn’t necessarily nervous, I was just very wary and I said ‘I’ve got to be on my game’. You see him lining up to come on fresh at half-time and you’ve had 45 minutes in your legs.
“You’re mentally preparing and you don’t take a backwards step for anybody no matter who they are.”
Hulk was also happy to give his jersey to Nigro.
The former Porto man added: “He asked me to change shirts, so obviously I’ll do this for the matter of respect and also for the warmness of him asking for the shirt. We played on each other, so it was very nice for me.”