“I was still hopeful right up until Dunga announced the squad. It was really sad to see my name wasn’t on the list, because I knew I could have been there,” Grafite told FIFA.com after missing out on selection for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 despite a prolific campaign for then-recently-crowned Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg.
Yet despite a less productive season in the Wolves’ colours this term, the powerful striker has forced his way into the Brazil reckoning just in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. “It’s the biggest thrill of my career,” said the former Le Mans, Sao Paulo and Goias player after he was included in Dunga’s 23-man squad.
Having scored on his debut against Guatemala back in 2005, a five-year wait for a second cap ended when Grafite was called up at the last minute to replace the injured Luis Fabiano for a friendly against Republic of Ireland in March. Starting on the bench, he replaced Adriano on 63 minutes and proceeded to put in an impressive shift, including a fine assist for Robinho’s late clincher, in the 2-0 success.
“It was the player’s last chance, so imagine what he must have been feeling. And then he goes on and plays like he’s been with A Seleção forever,” said Dunga afterwards, clearly won over my Grafite’s blend of talent, character and good timing.
“Others had their chance and didn’t make the most of the opportunity, but that wasn’t the case with him. I told him to play with the same confidence he does for his club, to make the most of his chance and enjoy himself.” With Grafite having done just that, South Africa 2010 now awaits.