Brazilians who have defected away from their home nation

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It seems strange that a player can pick what nation they play for. Surely everyone is born in a country, and that's the country they go on to represent. But as we know it isn't as simple as that; France are famously inundated with players who were born in different countries and the Algerian national team has more players who weren't born there than players that were. 

Brazil produce so many top players, that many struggle to break into the national team, despite being regulars for their club sides. Some of the decisions to change nationality were well publicised, for example Diego Costa opting for Spain, but some have remained under the radar. Here are the five best Brazilians who didn't play for Brazil.

5 - Marcos Senna

Marcos Senna was one of the more forgettable names in Spain's Euro 2008 breakthrough victory, which is probably why his change in nationality went relatively unnoticed. After realising he was being constantly overlooked for the national team in Brazil, Senna was granted Spanish citizenship in 2006 - a decision which proved to be a very good one.


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Senna scored the fourth penalty in Spain's decisive victory over Italy in the quarter finals, a victory which was later described as Spain's breakthrough moment. He was also considered to be Spain's player of the tournament; at the time Brazil were short in midfield and must have regretted letting such an important player go.

4 - Eduardo 

Who can forget Eduardo's looping header over the outstretched hand of Paul Robinson to condemn England to a 2-0 qualifying defeat in Zagreb? Despite looking and sounding like none of his teammates, Eduardo slotted seamlessly into Slaven Bilic's side, averaging nearly a goal every other game throughout his entire international career.

The infamous injury suffered by Eduardo perhaps hindered him from making even more of an impact for both club and country, but he'll be grateful for the opportunity he would never have been afforded with his country of birth. Brazil's loss was Croatia's gain.

3 - Pepe

It may come as a surprise to many that the uncompromising Real Madrid centre back wasn't born in Portugal. Pepe was born in Brazil, but failed to get the recognition he deserved and moved to Portugal when he was 18. 

He never represented any of Brazil's youth sides so felt no sentiment when it came to choosing Portugal, although Dunga did his best to change his mind. Considering Brazil's notorious leaky defence, they will undoubtedly feel they missed a trick in letting Pepe go. 

 2 - Thiago Motta

Thiago Motta will definitely feel like one that got away for those associated with Brazilian football. Ever since Gilberto Silva retired, Brazil have struggled to find an accomplished holding midfielder to assure the rest of the side. Thiago Motta was the natural successor to Gilberto Silva.

Thiago Motta had played for every Brazilian youth side and even represented them in the Gold Cup where his caps were registered by FIFA, making him one of very few players to have officially represented two countries. Due to injuries and other options, Motta was disregarded for the national team and after hearing Italy wanted his services, Motta made the switch.

Since then he has made fleeting appearances for Italy, making his decision to swap nationalities seem questionable. Out of the five players in the list, Motta is one that may regret his decision to defect away from Brazil. 

1 - Deco

Whilst Thiago Motta may regret turning his back on his home country, Deco is arguably Brazil's greatest export to Portugal. The playmaker was the hub of Portugal's football for the best part of seven years; he was the heartbeat of the team in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup - proving to be even more influential than Cristiano Ronaldo.

As successful as Deco has been for Portugal, it's debatable whether Brazil truly regret letting him go. Kaka was prominent during the same time as Deco, and it's unlikely that Deco would have forced Kaka out of the central attacking midfield position. Brazil also had Ronaldinho in 2006, so they weren't exactly short on creativity.

So for Brazil, Portugal and Deco, everyone seemed to be happy about Deco's decision. Many are surprised when they hear that Deco was originally Brazilian, which is testament to the passion that Deco displays whilst playing for his country. He will deservedly be remembered as a true great of Portuguese football. 

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