Manchester United defender Rafael has been stung by suggestions he is not interested in playing for Brazil.
Despite being one of the most improved players at Old Trafford, and claiming a third Premier League title winners’ medal last season, Rafael’s history with the Selecao is a chequered one.
The full-back was called into the senior squad for the first time in 2010 but did not make his debut for another two years, when he came on as a substitute against Denmark.
He was then selected for Brazil’s Olympic squad last summer, which was supposed to provide the platform for a World Cup challenge on home soil in 2014.
But Rafael was blamed for a key error in Brazil’s final defeat by Mexico at Wembley, since when he has disappeared from the senior squad completely and was overlooked for the recent Confederations Cup when coach Luis Felipe Scolari opted to select only one orthodox right-back in Dani Alves.
The perception is Rafael does not care, having left his homeland on his 18th birthday along with twin brother Fabio to take up a contract offer with the Red Devils.
But, Rafael insists, the perception is wrong.
“People think I don’t want to play for Brazil because I left at such a young age,” he said.
“That is not true at all.
“My brother and I left because life for any young Brazilian player is full of uncertainty.
“It is the same in England but we knew Manchester United represented a big chance for us.
“The people back home thought we didn’t care. We do care.
“I would love the chance to play for my country again.”
As Brazil triumphed at the Confederations Cup, Rafael is not going to force his way back into Scolari’s plans particularly easily, especially when the last memory of his representing his country in a high-profile game was to gift the ball to Mexico for their first-minute opener in that Olympic final.
No matter Brazil had 89 minutes to rectify the situation.
“I always say the Olympics were the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Rafael.
“It made me much stronger as a person. Up to the semi-final, everyone was saying good things about me and how well I was doing.
“After we lost the final it was all my fault. (With Brazil) there always has to be someone to blame – it doesn’t matter whether it is Under-17s, Under-19s, anyone – and I was it.
“People said lots of things but I said to myself ‘don’t let it affect you’.
“I am a stronger person because of it because nothing can be like that again.”