Former Barcelona midfielder Deco admits there was pressure to play for Portugal instead of Brazil

The 34-year-old playmaker has no regrets about playing for the Euro 2004 runners-up and noted he always believed he could represent Brazil someday
Fluminense midfielder Deco claims he was pressed to play for the Portugal national team.

The Brazil-born playmaker gained Portuguese citizenship in 2002, making 75 appearances for the national team before retiring from international football after the 2010 World Cup.

Deco, who had been in Portugal since 1997, thought that putting on Portugal's shirt was the best way to repay all the support from the fans, who would later see him lift the Uefa Cup and the Champions League with Porto.

"The president of the Portuguese Football Federation had been trying that [to get me to play for Portugal] for three years - Porto's president, too," Deco told Lancenet. "There was a lot of pressure for me to become a Portuguese citizen.

"My career was practically spent in Portugal, people on the street asked me to play for the country. My choice to represent Portugal was more like a gesture of gratitude for everything this country has given me. 

"I was very happy there and very respected, I had already built a very strong connection with the country."
 
Deco played a leading part in Portugal's second place at Euro 2004 and their fourth-placed finish at the World Cup in Germany two years later.

The 34-year-old admitted it was very hard for Brazilian players back then to earn a place in the national team if they were not plying their trade in the biggest leagues.

"Today, a coach has a lot more information and he no longer needs to travel to watch a player who plays in Portugal, Russia or Ukraine," he added.

"The lack of information hurt me a bit. Nowadays, I watch several players, like Hulk at Porto or Luis Gustavo at Bayern Munich."

The former Barcelona star stressed his decision to play for Portugal was not motivated by the non-existent opportunities in the Brazil national team.

"I knew I could naturally get to play for Brazil, I always believed in my football," Deco affirmed.