In the story of the cartoon The Incredible Hulk, scientist Bruce Banner suffers from the effects of exposure to radiation from a gamma bomb that he created. The radiation exposure leaves him vulnerable to involuntary transformations in which he changes into the gargantuan, muscular green figure that readers fondly remember. In one rendition of the story, The Hulk’s transformations are triggered by anger and an inability to control challenging emotions.
Porto’s FC striker Givanildo Vieira de Souza, also known as The Hulk, has a corresponding mythology about his anger, power and physical strength. In December 2009, The Hulk was accused of assaulting a match steward in the tunnel following a game between Porto and Benefica that earned him a 4 month suspension. Porto successfully appealed The Hulk’s suspension after the Brazilian striker had already missed 17 games. The Portuguese soccer federation ruled to reduce The Hulk’s suspension to three games, effectively nullifying it after the striker missed January, February and most of March 2010.
Although the Hulk’s involvement in a tunnel brawl became emblematic of his anger, his suspension had the reverse effect of leading to a different explosion and transformation on the field. 2010-2011 saw The Hulk explode and claim his place amongst the top 20 strikers in the world with some magnificent performances for FC Porto that powered them to the Portuguese Primeira League title, the Portuguese Cup and the UEFA Europa League. The Hulk unleashed his rage on goalkeepers across Europe with 36 goals in 53 appearances for Porto, 23 of which he netted domestically alongside 13 assists.
For Porto, the 24 year old Hulk plays in a 4-3-3 formation on the right, with Falcao in the center and Varela or Cristian Rodriguez on the left. He drops deep into midfield or cuts in diagonally from the right flank and runs at the center of defenses. He has a passion for curling, long range strikes on goal with his touchstone left foot. He has the upper body strength of his idol Ronaldo of Corinthians and Adriano and the dribbling ability of Rivaldo and Romario. This season, he displayed a terrific attitude toward training and sportsmanship that belies his nickname’s association with rage and anger. The Hulk is waiting to explode although he has already exploded with vengeance for his 2010 suspension on Portuguese defenses during the 2010–2011 season. The Brazilian has stated his desire to play in Italy, Spain or the Premier League but FC Porto have no intention of parting with him given his 100 million euros buyout clause and its recent payment to Uruguayan club Atletico Rentistas that means Porto now own 85% of his sporting rights. Fans of The Hulk now patiently await with baited breath for his explosion onto the Brazilian team in the center of a three pronged Selecao attack flanked by Neymar and Pato.