Paulinho: I'd given up hope of Brazil return

Paulinho has admitted he’d given up hope of playing for Brazil during his last six months at Tottenham Hotspur and attributed his international recall to joining Guangzhou Evergrande. The midfielder made six appearances at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, but after falling out of favour at White Hart Lane, he failed to play for his country during Dunga’s second spell in charge.

Paulinho moved to China PR in mid-2015 – something many felt would signal the end of his Brazil career. Within six months, though, he had helped Guangzhou win the Chinese Super League and AFC Champions League crowns, and starred at the FIFA Club World Cup. And since Tite succeeded Dunga at the Brazil reins, Paulinho, who thrived under him as Corinthians beat Chelsea to Club World Cup glory in 2012, has been back in the fold.

“I think a players has to understand the moment,” the 28-year-old told SporTV. “We left the World Cup with a difficult outcome. I returned to England and waited some time until the transfer to China.

"In my final stretch I wasn’t playing. My last six months in England was lost time. During it I didn’t hold out hope of getting back in the national team.

"When I arrived in China I needed to do my work and play matches. I switched myself off from everything. I didn’t think about the Seleção – I was totally focused on my club. The possibility of the Brazilian national team could have come off or not. There’s no way to know if it will happen.

“Things in China started going the way I’d imagined. With the good results of the team and the titles, I got my confidence back. Then I thought, ‘I will return to the Seleção. When, I don’t know, but I will return'. And then I managed to get my place back.”

Brazil lead South American qualifying for Russia 2018, one point above Uruguay and four clear of Ecuador and Colombia. Argentina are a further point back in fifth. Brazil host Argentina on 10 November.