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Mar 26, 2012

Heart's Fred a big-match specialist

The only time Melbourne Heart's Fred played in the A-League finals, he starred and walked away with a championship.

His four assists for Archie Thompson in Melbourne Victory's 6-0 win over Adelaide United in the 2006-07 grand final made him part of that club's folklore.

And in the uniquely Australian environment of finals deciding a soccer championship, Brazilian midfielder Fred believes he knows what's required.

"When you are in a final, you have to change your mind (set) - you have to concentrate more," Fred said on Monday ahead of their elimination final against Perth Glory in Perth on Sunday.

"It's just one game. If you lose, you're out. That's different.

"I'm a little bit older now.

"This time it's different (than with Victory) because also it's a different club. But I can't wait for Sunday to come."

Fred and his teammates were farewelled for their inaugural finals campaign with an official Victorian state government function on the steps of Melbourne's Parliament House on Monday.

While Fred's old club Victory's season ended in Perth last weekend with a 4-2 loss, he is confident the Heart can go west and prosper - and perhaps go all the way to an unlikely grand final.

"We have to think about Perth first. It's one step, each step," Fred said.

"We have to concentrate. If we play good, we can beat them there."

Fred also knows what to expect from the Glory's main strike weapon Shane Smeltz.

He played alongside Smeltz during a short guest stint at Wellington Phoenix before the New Zealander striker moved to Gold Coast, then the Glory.

Smeltz shredded the Victory last weekend, scoring all four goals to become the A-League's all-time leading goalscorer.

"He's a good player and we have to take care of him, but there's a lot of players we have to take care of," Fred said.

"Our youngest players are more experienced now and they known what they have to do."

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