Jo: Brazil's Surprise Package Ahead of World Cup 2014

Callum FoxContributor IIISeptember 20, 2013

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 07: Jo of Brazil celebrates a scored goal against Australia during the International friendly between Brazil and Australia at Mane Garrincha Stadium on September 07, 2013 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Plenty of viewers will have been taken aback at the sight of Atletico Mineiro star Jo warming up on the touchline and coming on for Fred in Brazil's opening Confederations Cup clash against Japan.

Comments on the substitution ranged from confusion"Isn't he that guy who played for Manchester City?"to derision"I can't believe he's playing for Brazil!"but the universal reaction was that of incredulity.

Surely Brazil have better strikers to bring on than a Manchester City and Everton reject who flopped in the Premier League?

But just 12 minutes later, the ball was in the net and Jo had silenced his detractors to make it 3-0 to the Selecao.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21:  Jo Silva of Manchester City during the UEFA Europa League Group A match between Manchester City and KKS Lech Poznan at City of Manchester Stadium on October 21, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It was the culmination of a long and arduous journey in club football. After starting out with Corinthians, he earned his first move to Europe in 2006 with CSKA Moscow where he scored 44 goals in 78 games during a three-year spell in the Russian capital.

Jo's stellar form saw the newly-rich Manchester City invest £18 million, according to BBC Sport, to take the Brazilian to the Premier League in 2008.

But the striker failed to acclimatise to the rigours of English football and, after a disappointing debut season in which he netted just once in nine games, Jo was loaned out to Everton for two successive season-long loans

After 27 appearances and just five goals to his name with the Toffees, Jo returned home as a laughing stock.

Even back in his homeland, his form still suffered.

Internacional had taken a chance on the Brazilian once Manchester City put him up for sale, but Jo's goalscoring touch had deserted him once again with just two goals in 16 games.

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 05:  Jo of Everton celebrates with Leon Osman after scoring the third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Wigan Athletic at Goodison Park on April 5, 2009 in Everton, England.  (Photo by Alex
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

However, Belo Horizonte giants Atletico Mineiro saw enough to bring him to the Independencia in 2012 and it wasn't long before Jo repaid their faith with goals.

The striker proved to be a vital cog in the Galo machine as they stunned their Brasileirao rivals to finish second, behind a rampant Fluminense side, and stormed to Copa Libertadores glory.

During this period of success, Jo struck 17 times in 43 appearances, finishing as top scorer in the Copa Libertadores with seven goals.

Such form encouraged Selecao boss Luiz Felipe Scolari to gamble on the 26-year-old hit-man as backup to star striker Fred after an injury-hit Leandro Damiao dropped out of the Confederations Cup squad.

Jo delivered in full with late strikes against Japan and Mexico to help the Selecao win the competition.

And the Atletico star has continued his form as Brazil's chosen striker in recent friendlies, with a poacher's effort against Portugal and a brace versus Australia.

Brazil are in a strange situation, faced with an unusual problem for a nation of their stature in international football.

Currently, they lack a world-class striker to lead the line.

For all of Leandro Damiao's potential, the Internacional star has failed to live up to his lofty expectation.

Alexandre Pato was handed a return to the Selecao squad in the recent friendlies but his form continues to fluctuate for Corinthians.

Fred retains his place as first choice, but a recent injury has ruled him out for a large chunk of the current Brasileirao campaign.

And now Brazil have come to depend on Jo.

It's some achievement to go from being a flop in the Premier League to spearheading Brazil's plethora of attacking talent in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup.