Brazil’s run at the FIFA World Cup 2014 finished with a memorable 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in the semifinal. When the five-time World Cup-winning team step down to compete in Russia, they will be eager to forget the horrors of the previous tournament and start afresh on a winning note. Brazil may have suffered a major blow with Dani Alves picking up an injury and getting ruled out of the squad, but the return of Neymar will boost their confidence. The forward line-up comprising Gabriel Jesus, Robert Firmino and Douglas Costa, along with the PSG star, make them appear as the team to beat.
But Brazil could have even better players in the team, with some of the big names, who were born in the South American country, playing for other countries. Here is a list of 5 players who were born in Brazil but never got a chance to represent their country:
Pepe – Brazil to Portugal
Pepe became a naturalized Portuguese citizen like Deco after being born a Brazilian. Even before Pepe opted to play for Portugal, he was never called up to represent Brazil in any youth category. Pepe was contacted by coach Dunga in 2006 about a future call-up, which the player declined as he had already made up his mind up about joining Portugal’s senior side once he became eligible.
Diego Costa – Brazil to Spain
Diego Costa is a Brazilian by birth, but the forward was called up only once for the senior team but never played for them, This meant that Costa was eligible to represent Spain once he acquired a Spanish passport as he had not played in official FIFA games for Brazil. Losing Costa to Spain was a big blow for Brazil as there is no doubt about his ability as a striker and his position is one which could have been very handy for Brazil.
Thiago Motta – Brazil to Italy
Thiago Motta is yet another Brazilian who changed nationality to play international football after having played for Brazil in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup. On 6 February 2011, Motta was called up to the Italy squad for the first time and two days later he was granted clearance and then made his debut for Italy in a friendly against Germany. He has now gone on to represent Italy at Euro 2012, the 2014 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2016.
Cacau – Brazil to Germany
Claudemir Jeronimo Barreto or commonly known as Cacau, was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Although he spent his younger days in Brazil, he was never called up to Brazil’s youth squads. Cacau’s performance for Nurnberg impressed Bundesliga giants VfB Stuttgart and he signed for them in 2003 and played with Die Roten till 2014. In February 2009, he became eligible to play for Germany after acquiring a German passport, having lived in the country for over eight years.
Deco – Brazil to Portugal
Former Barcelona player Deco, was Brazilian by birth but acquired Portuguese citizenship following six years of stay in the country. Interestingly his first game for Portugal was against Brazil when he came on as a substitute and scored the winner.