The summer vacation is generally considered a good thing. People take delight in planning their annual escape from it all, and look forward to it with increasing pleasure as the time draws nearer. All the same, there are circumstances when you might happily give up two, three or even four weeks of your precious holiday allowance.
Take Brazil midfielder Josue, for example, who in his heart of hearts would have preferred to be with A Seleção for their recent friendlies, a goalless draw with the Netherlands and a 1-0 win over Romania, before starting the crucial phase of preparations for this summer’s Copa America. However, ever since Brazil’s quarter-final exit to the Dutch at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, the 31-year-old has been surplus to new coach Mano Menezes’ requirements.
"A new coach normally means team rebuilding, and in any case, a handful of the players will be too old when the next World Cup comes around. The coach will try and achieve a good blend of youth and experience. I think the likes of Kaka, Lucio, Maicon and Robinho will form the backbone of the side, combined with fresh young talent,” Josue exclusively told FIFA.com, seemingly at ease with his lack of international call-ups in the last 12 months.
Grateful for ‘four fantastic years’
Nevertheless, an abrupt end to the hard-working midfielder’s career in his country’s famous colours hardly looked on the cards a year ago. "I’m not disappointed in any way. Every player spends a certain length of time in A Seleção, and I had four fantastic years. But your time’s always up at some point, because new talent keeps on coming through in Brazil. I’m about to turn 32, and I’ll be 35 at the time of the next World Cup. In any case, a new coach will always experiment with new players. The World Cup in my own country would be a fantastic way to end my career, but it’s also fine if it doesn’t work out that way."
Josue Anunciado de Oliveira, to give the 31-year-old his full name, tasted success in the early part of his career with Goias Esporte Clube and FC Sao Paulo, before switching to German Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg in 2007.
A season to forget
After earning his first senior cap against Ghana on 27 March that year, Josue was an instant hit at the Wolves and quickly rose up the dressing room hierarchy, even taking the captain’s armband for the 2008/09 campaign. He subsequently led the club to the first domestic championship in their history, all in his first season as skipper.
He also settled in alongside Kaka, Robinho, Lucio and Co as a regular in the national team. He currently has 28 caps and has scored one goal for his country. "Naturally, my best memories are of winning the Copa America and the Confederations Cup, but also my call-up to the World Cup in 2010,” the player declared, clearly pleased and proud of his career in the canary yellow shirt.
The affable midfielder has tasted plenty of success too, and not only with the five-time world champions. His honours collection includes the Intercontinental Cup (the forerunner to the present FIFA Club World Cup), the Copa Libertadores, and the Brazilian and German championships.
However, it is hard to believe that his exclusion from the national set-up has left no emotional trace, especially as it has coincided with his worst season at club level since coming to Europe. A chaotic season at Wolfsburg, punctuated by two changes of coach, saw the 2009 champions only secure their top-flight status on the last day. "Right from the start, the season didn’t go the way it should have done. We had the changes of head coach, and [general manager] Dieter Hoeness was dismissed. There was just too much turbulence, and we completely lost our way."
Always the favourites
At the end of the day, Felix Magath returned to the club he led to the title in 2009 and masterminded the narrow escape. "Obviously, I was delighted when he came back. He identifies with the club, and the players identify with him. He always gets the best out of an individual,” Josue said of the man who brought him to Lower Saxony four years ago.
The midfielder has no plans to leave the Wolves any time soon. "My intention is to stay, unless of course the club doesn’t want me any more. I’d like to play for another four years, so if I extend my contract by two years, I’ll finish my career here."
Naturally, Josue is wishing his national team every success for the future. Every Brazilian is desperately hoping for the ultimate triumph on home soil in 2014, and despite the South Americans’ quarter-final exits at both the 2006 and 2010 finals, Josue believes it is well within the bounds of possibility. "Brazil always start every tournament as favourites. The likes of Spain and Germany still have huge respect for our team."