Luis Fabiano: Brazil should focus on youth development
Luis Fabiano is unquestionably among the most consistent Brazilian goalscorers of the current century. Indeed, the striker managed 99 goals during two spells with Sao Paulo, in addition to netting 72 times across 149 appearances with Spanish giants Sevilla.
At international level, he has racked up 28 goals from 45 games whilst donning Brazil’s famous yellow shirt. His goalscoring rate is such that the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) singled him out as the second highest goal-scoring Brazilian of the 21st century. And despite now being 35-years-old, the imposing forward has maintained prolific form, and currently is topping the China League One goalscoring chart with 13 goals during his debut season at Tianjin Quanjian.
Needless to say, his career has been littered with personal and team success. To name a few, Fabiano won the UEFA Cup in 2006 with Sevilla and three years later he finished as the tournament top-scorer with five goals as Brazil* *clinched the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009. While scoring goals and winning games has been a successful formula for Fabiano, there is one notable exception which still leaves him confused to this day - the quarter-final loss against the Netherlands during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Brazil entered the global extravaganza having won the previous year’s Confederations Cup, also in the Rainbow Nation. And they remained undefeated in storming all the way to the last-eight to set up the showdown with the Dutch. Brazil dominated the first half and took a deserved 1-0 lead, only for the game to suddenly tip in favour of the Oranje after the restart, with Wesley Sneijder scoring twice in a 2-1 comeback triumph.
In a World Cup, the results are sometimes beyond imagination.
"In football, there are surprises and shocks," Fabiano told FIFA.comin reference to that match. "In the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, we had a very good squad. We were united and ambitious. People thought highly of the team and we believed that we could live up to the expectations.
"We maintained our winning form until the quarter-final meeting against the Netherlands. We were the better side in the opening half and we had every reason to go on to victory. But we lost in inexplicable fashion. They (Netherlands) had only a few chances during the game but they scored twice from the limited opportunities. This is football. Prediction is useless and meaningless. Only on the field can the result be decided."
The sad story would continue to torment Brazil four years later when they were hosts. Going into the last four undefeated, expectations were on the home side to reach the Final and win their sixth World Cup. However, they suffered an infamous 7-1 defeat to Germany in unexpected fashion.
"It (the loss to Germany) is hard to understand," continued Fabiano. "In a World Cup, the results are sometimes beyond imagination. Because it (the World Cup) is a unique competition. It is different from all other tournaments like Copa America, qualifying competitions and continental campaigns since you play against the best teams of the world. A minor error can lead to fatal results. The World Cup is a World Cup."
Youth development the key With Brazil's failure even to progress beyond the group phase in the recent Copa America, questions have been raised as to what the country should do in order to redeem themselves on the global stage. Fabiano, though, maintains that Brazil should revert to their previous youth development schemes if they are to rebuild their credibility.
"In the past, our successes were attributed to our great youth talents base. We used to have a strong plan providing facilities and chances for youngsters. Even the kids from the poor families could be selected by a training centre or football school if they showed their talents. If we return to this policy, there will be plenty of youth talents coming up the ranks."
It is the same advice which Fabiano provides his adopted country. China, as the world's most populous country and second biggest economy, are seeking to grow their footballing image. "For me, China should have every reason to become a strong footballing country. It has the world's biggest population and they are second to none in terms of passion and money. But to make good progress, you need to begin from the base with important youth development."