Walter – Brazil’s star attraction
Posted: 16 September 2009 Time: 14:21
It is no secret that Brazil’s Under-20 side will arrive in Egypt for the Fifa World Youth Championship next week as one of the hot favourites.
The South Americans have an impeccable record at youth level and always have young superstars on parade. Look at the long list of Selecao stars who began carving their names in the history books at this event - Bebeto, Dunga, Claudio Taffarel, Roberto Carlos, Denilson, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano, Julio Baptista, Daniel Alves and Alexandre Pato, to name but a few. A Seleção’s involvement in this competition stretches back to the very first edition of the event at Tunisia in 1977 and although they only claimed their first title in Mexico in 1983, they have since gone on to win a further three title at this level - a figure only bettered by Argentina’s six victories. Brazil have never gone out in the group stages and have finished in the top three nine times. In spite of the massive exodus of players from the country last year (1 176 footballers left to play abroad), a law that prevents players under the age of 18 from leaving the country to play abroad has paid off and Brazil will be in Egypt with a squad comprised entirely of home-based players. They have been drawn in Group E along with Australia, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic. The key man in North Africa next month is bound to be Gremio’s Walter who bears a great physical resemblance to Adriano, though he favours his right foot not his left. Walter won praise from fans and media alike during the South American youth championships thanks to his physical power and keen eye for goal. Also putting in outstanding performances for Brazil in the South American showpiece were Walter’s Gremio teammate, striker Douglas Costa, midfielder Sandro (Internacional) sturdy defender Welinton Souza (Flamengo) and safe-hands keeper Renan. Gremio have no plans to cash in on Costa yet as he still has to earn a regular place in their first team squad. In September 2008, he turned 18, which meant that his contract was automatically renewed until 2013 with buy-out clause of R300-million included. No European club is expected to meet that price, but Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid continue to show interest. Costa, however, says he would prefer to play in Spain, as he would adapt quickly, and because of the climate and the language.