He has something to live up, replacing Ronaldo, the "Phenomenon" who fired Brazil to glory in 2002 and broke Gerd Mueller's all-time FIFA World Cup™ scoring haul of 14 goals in Germany last time out. But Luis Fabiano isn't letting the burden of shooting the Selecao to their sixth title weigh too heavily on his shoulders as he seeks his own place in the pantheon of all-time greats to have worn the canary yellow shirt.
The Seville striker is playing in his first FIFA World Cup but notched five goals in as many games in the FIFA Confederations Cup last year and so is already well-attuned to the South African environment, even if he comes here having had to shrug off a leg injury and the fact that he has not scored in his last five Brazilian outings.
That drought stretches back to last autumn but he is confident he will have his shooting boots with him when Brazil step out to face North Korea on Tuesday in their opening Group G match. The Brazilians will later go up against Portugal and Côte d’Ivoire, both of whom could give Dunga's side a hard time of it. But with Fabiano, who scored on his international debut against Nigeria in 2003, in their ranks they will not be short of firepower as he has netted 25 times in 37 appearances for his country -- or 19 in 26 starts under Dunga.
Dunga called up the 29-year-old who started out with Ponte Preta following a period on the fringes of the squad after Afonso Alves (then of Dutch side Heerenveen and now with Qatar's Al Rayyan) was injured in 2008 for the start of the qualifiers. He did not shine initially but then cemented his place with a double in the 2-1 home win over Uruguay in Sao Paulo.
A member of the 2004 CONMEBOL Copa America-winning squad, Fabiano would go on to score a creditable nine goals in qualifying -- buoyed by his Confederations Cup exploits, which included a brace in the final win over the United States.
Now the Seville striker says he has two goals to fulfil in the national colours, having already achieved one ambition. "I have got two remaining ambitions here -- I want to win the Cup and the other is to be top scorer."
Comparisons will of course be made with Ronaldo and Fabiano says he cannot lose too much sleep over that. "It's a big responsibility, and not just because some great names have worn the [number nine] shirt, but because there is inherent pressure in donning Brazil's colours," he explained.
The confidence is certainly there, despite his drawing a blank both in the warm-up against Zimbabwe -- won 3-0 -- and the 5-1 drubbing of Tanzania. "I have what it takes to score goals at the World Cup -- the important thing is winning the title. Once one comes along then there will be more," he stressed - an eye on making the shirt his own for the next tournament on home soil as well as for the current event.
Coach Dunga has come in for criticism from fans and some former players, including former skipper Socrates, for his pragmatic style of play, but Fabiano has no problem with his coach distancing himself from Brazil's traditional flair. "If we have to get down and dirty to win, then we will -- the important thing is to win," he said on arrival in South Africa.
Fabiano encapsulates the Dunga way of looking at things when he explains that the team "turned it on (in the qualifiers) when the chance to do so arose and knuckled down and fought when that was what was needed. The results were there," he notes.
Winning the FIFA World Cup will be the crowning glory of Fabiano's career, which took off in Europe with Seville after low-key stints with Rennes and Porto. Unfortunately, there will be one regret as the grandfather who brought him up recently died. "Unfortunately, my grandfather is no longer with us. I would like to win the World Cup for him as he was a father to me -- he was my idol and also a fan."