The international soccer world powers boast an extraordinary pool of talent from which to choose from. For each position there are often a handful of players playing at the top levels queued to get a shot on the international stage.
The privileged position of these teams comes at a price: many great players never get the chance to play at the international arena. Few countries experience the phenomenon of the “forgotten star” like Brazil.
Currently there are several players in this limbo.
Inter Milan’s Mancini is of these players. On the pitch he is a consistent threat, terrorizing opposition defense with his eye catching speed and skill. In addition to these attributes, Mancini also has the luxury of being a versatile player who has featured as a right back, right winger, and striker.
He plays on one of Europe’s top teams and has regularly featured in the Champion’s league for both Inter and his previous club Roma, however, despite this he has only racked up six appearances for the Selecão. The challenge for players like this is finding a spot for them on the national team, something that Dunga and his predecessors have not done for Mancini.
The striker position is a place where Brazil faces this challenge to a significant degree. Two players that have gotten the short end of the stick have been Vagner Love and Grafite.
Vagner Love made a significant impact during the Copa America, when Dunga counted on him to play off Robinho. Despite his performances, more recently he has fallen out of favor as Dunga has opted more for a traditional goal scorer like Luis Fabiano.
Grafite’s credentials are equally, if not more, impressive. Currently he is both Wolfsburg’s and the Bundesliga’s top goal scorer, with 24 league goals to his name. With one match left against Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg has everything in its favor to tie up the Bundesliga crown. Grafite has been instrumental in getting the club to the position it finds itself in today.
One of the most publicized examples of Brazil’s struggle to find a place for its “forgotten stars” has been with Juventus’ Amauri. Leading the club’s goal scoring charts with 12 league goals, Amauri has stormed into the public eye this season.
Last season with Palermo, he had an even more impressive goal scoring record putting 15 into the back of the net. The pressure for him to crack into the international stage has led to the much publicized eligibility saga between Brazil and Italy. This saga promises to be something we will continue to see in the future, as players continue to make their mark in Europe’s top leagues yet fail to break into the Brazil squad.