Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho says that he is embracing the opportunity at the World Cup to finally show what he can do for Brazil.
Seeing his first minutes of the tournament in the Group A finale against Cameroon, the Premier League star was brought on at half-time for Tottenham Hotspur’s Paulinho and earned widespread praise for his performance, scoring the side’s final goal of the game to seal a 4-1 win.
With the hosts having largely underwhelmed on their way to the knockout rounds, there have been strong calls for Fernandinho to start Saturday’s last-16 clash with Chile over the lacklustre Paulinho, but the 29-year-old is content to be a part of the setup at this stage, after a lengthy battle to make manager Luiz Felipe Scolari’s final 23.
‘Playing and scoring in the Selecao shirt in a World Cup, at home … well, there are so many things that go through your head,’ he said to FIFA.com. ‘One of the biggest things for me was the excitement my family and friends were feeling at that moment. They were probably more excited than I was.’
Originally moving to Europe with Shakhtar Donetsk in 2005, Fernandinho spent eight seasons in Ukraine before a lucrative £34 million transfer to City in June last year, going on to feature in 33 Premier League games during the club’s title-winning campaign.
Having previously made his Brazil debut in 2011, the former Atletico Paranaense star had not appeared for the national side since February 2012 until a recall in early 2014, and believes that the high-profile stage of English football played a fundamental role in grabbing the attention of Scolari.
‘I’ve always dreamed of playing in the World Cup and wearing the Selecao jersey, but I knew how difficult that was, what with me playing in Ukraine for Shakhtar,’ he said.
‘Last year, though, when I moved to England and began playing in a much bigger league with a much higher profile, I could see things coming together for me.
‘I fought hard, chased my dream and got the call-up for the game with South Africa in March. Everything I did from June 2013 onwards was with the goal of making it here to the World Cup.’
With Scolari having remained fiercely loyal to his original lineup thus far, a place in Brazil’s starting XI for the clash with their South American rivals currently seems a longshot for Fernandinho.
Nevertheless, as a valuable two-way presence in the centre of the pitch, the City man remains a first-rate option to be introduced off the bench, as the Selecao look to fulfil the enormous expectations of a nation which wants nothing less than for them to add an historic sixth title to their collection.