Junior Negao: Now I feel complete
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It was the strike that set Brazil en route to hegemony. Fifteen years on from the Seleção's maiden goal in the sport, they have played 314 matches, won 11 Beach Soccer World Championships and three FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups. These figures, inconceivably, also belong to Junior Negao, the scorer of that landmark goal in 1993.

The synonymy between the team and its ever-present No8 nonetheless took its last step today, when he brought the curtain down on his incomparable playing career. And rarely does a sportsman, regardless of his vocation, retire in the blaze of glory that Junior Negao did in Marseille.

There, fittingly, the defender lifted the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup trophy high above his head after captaining Brazil to a 5-3 defeat of Italy in a memorable final. The result moved Alexandre Soares' side on to 73 games unbeaten, their aura of invincibility indebted to Junior Negao.

"It was the perfect way to go out," enthused the 44-year-old, proudly showing off the trophy. "I'm very emotional, thinking about all the wonderful times I've had with Brazil. But if we hadn't won today, there would have always been that something missing. Now I feel complete."

I'm very happy. I'll never forget this day and I'd like to say thank you to all of my coaches, team-mates and the Brazilian supporters
Junior Negao after captaining Brazil to Marseille 2008 glory.

"I feel so privileged to have played with so many great players over the years. Because of my team-mates I've been able to win so many titles. But this one was extra special because it was much harder for us to win the World Cup away from Brazil. ."

This debt of gratitude will be returned with interest, for Junior Negao has served his country through struggle and pain. Literally. "I've broken my big toe on a few occasions but I've never even thought about missing a game," he explained. "It's the greatest honour to represent this team and I've loved every minute of it since it all started."

When Brazil's beach soccer adventure began in 1993, Junior Negao was a relative nobody encompassed by celebrities. They included Paulo Sergio, Junior and Jairzinho, and he has since lined up alongside other former FIFA World Cup™ participants such as Branco, Zico and Romario.

These aforementioned luminaries engaged in exciting holiday romances with Brazil's beach soccer team. Junior Negao, by contrast, has revelled in the most consummate of love affairs with the side. And while he exited the sport on the red carpet today, his legend will remain an infinite symbol of the Seleção.