Brazil defender Dante has revealed he turned down an opportunity to play for Belgium four years before he made his international debut.
The 30-year-old was somewhat of a late bloomer and made his maiden appearance for Brazil in February 2013, although the Bayern Munich defender has rapidly become a key player for his country and looks likely to start their opening match of the FIFA World Cup against Croatia.
But Dante could have been preparing to play in Belgium's first World Cup finals appearance in 12 years this year, as the former Charleroi and Standard Liege man was once approached to represent the European nation.
Speaking in relation to Diego Costa's decision to turn his back on Brazil in favour of Spain, Dante claimed he never felt comfortable with the idea of giving up on the country of his birth.
"I think in 2009 I got an invite from Belgium to play for them," Dante said at Brazil's training camp in Teresopolis on Sunday.
"I had spoken with the coach and various other people there, and they had already got the paper work ready. But I never wanted to play for another country. We had a conversation but nothing that enthused me.
"Yes, I've had invites to play for other countries but my heart beats more for Brazil.
"I said 'look, it's better for me to keep trying to go after my dream to play for the Brazil squad, than to have it end prematurely'."
Brazil are widely considered favourites to win the World Cup on home soil after they defeated reigning champions Spain 3-0 in last year's FIFA Confederations Cup.
Heading into that tournament, the local fans had been concerned about how Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil would fare at the World Cup but Dante's fellow defender Maxwell said the Confederations Cup triumph sparked a wave of optimism.
"After what the team did during the Confederations Cup, we won over the optimism of the fans, and to play at home there is more pressure, but almost everyone in this squad plays on teams that have pressure on them every day to get the right result, to win," the Paris Saint-Germain full-back said.
"So we're going to try to do what we can do, step-by-step, watching the competition, and at the end, who knows?
"But all of the Brazilian people are feeling optimistic since the Confederations Cup win."
Scolari's men have been pooled with Croatia, Cameroon and Mexico in Group A and will be aiming for their sixth world title when the World Cup begins on June 12.
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