Commanding a team which captures the essence of beach soccer would be a huge burden to many, but Junior Negao revels in the task as much has he would a sunset on the Copacabana. At 43, the Brazilian has relinquished his starring role in the national team to Buru, the adidas Golden Ball and adidas Golden Shoe recipient at last year's FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
The squad's spirit, however, is still indebted to Junior Negao, something to which Buru recently attested. "Junior is our leader," he said. He will not be for much longer, though, with the Brazil captain set to retire from the sport after Marseille 2008.
"The time for the youngsters to take over has arrived," said Junior Negao, who has helped the Seleção win 11 global crowns and remains a cornerstone of the Brazilian defense. "I'm ready to hit the sand one last time and lead my team to another world title."
Junior Negao has formed part of the Brazil squad since its inauguration in 1993, scoring 315 goals in an ever-present 307 games along the way.
Get ready, then, to admire a canary-yellow tank dressed in Marseille, where the free-scoring Brazilians will be directed by Lieutenant Negão for the final time.