National service calls for Giuliano

Anonymity grudgingly belonged to Giuliano Victor de Paula as September 2008 began. Privately, the 18-year-old knew he possessed the tools to which celebrity should belong. Publicly, these tools were exclusive to the meagre audiences of the Brazilian Serie B. None of the 2,016 who witnessed the attacking midfielder flounder in Parana's 3-0 defeat by Bragantino at the start of the month will have expected him to cruise into a cloak of eminence.

What a difference a year makes. That, after all, is all has taken for Giuliano to blossom into one of the hottest properties in South American football. His genius during the final two months of the year convinced Porto Alegre giants Internacional to sign him for the 2009 campaign. And what a campaign it has been thus far for the Curitiba native.

It commenced with Giuliano illuminating the South American U-20 Championship with his elusive dribbles and piercing through-balls, and helping Brazil emerge triumphant to march into the FIFA World Cup Egypt 2009 field. It has continued, emphatically, at club level.

After playing a minor role in Internacional lifting the Campeonato Gaucho trophy in April, Giuliano has performed a major one in their Brasileirao title charge. Indeed, after breaking into the team courtesy of injuries and suspensions, he has remained there due to a series of handsome displays that have helped O Colorado to second, one point behind Palmeiras and two above third-placed Sao Paulo. With mixed feelings, he must now abandon one trophy quest to pursue another.

I'm disappointed to be leaving Inter for a while. But this is the World Cup. I'm very proud to have been called up.
Brazil's Giuliano

"I'm disappointed to be leaving Inter for a while, because I'm in the starting line-up, we're playing well and challenging for the Brasileiro title," Giuliano explained. "But this is the World Cup, despite being at U-20 level. A lot of people will see me play and if I play well, it will open doors.

"I keep getting stopped in Porto Alegre. A lot of people tell me, 'stay with Inter, we need you'. If they want my presence, it's because I'm important. But I'll also be important over there [in Egypt]. I'll be watching Internacional from Egypt via the internet, and I'll give them my all once I return.

"Now though, my mind is on the Seleção. I'm happy to have been called up. It's a great opportunity. It's the Brazilian national team - you can't say no to your country. I'm very proud to have been called up."

Brazil will kick off their campaign against Costa Rica two weeks tomorrow, before taking on Czech Republic and finally Australia in Group E. With Argentina, the record six-time champions and winners of the last two editions of the competition, failing to qualify - Giuliano scored and starred in a 2-0 defeat of La Albiceleste at the continental finals in February - Rogerio Lourenco's side will be expected to lift the trophy for the fifth time.

Brazil's previous FIFA U-20 World Cup conquest - in 2003 - was indebted to Internacional duo Daniel Carvalho and Nilmar. If Giuliano's meteoric ascent is a measure of things to come, history could be about to repeat itself.