Brazilian Samurai to rumble for Japan
Japan defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka may be just another Brazilian who has made the World Cup after abandoning his star-studded country, but he claims the Samurai spirit is running in his blood.
Tulio acquired Japanese nationality in 2003 and has become the third Brazilian-born player to represent them at a World Cup, following Wagner Lopes in 1998 and Alessandro Santos in 2002 and 2006.
But he is the first Brazilian of Japanese ancestry to stand on the big stage where other boys from Brazil are now fighting for other flags — including Deco for Portugal, Marcos Senna for Spain and Cacau for Germany.
Tulio admits that as a child he never dreamed of fighting for the country which his grandparents left to seek their fortunes in Brazil.
He remembers that his grandfather Yoshiyuki, who emigrated to Brazil at 11 and died last year at 92 as a retired coffee plantation owner, used to say: "We should never spoil Japanese pride in Brazil."
With his long, dark tied-back hair and loud shouting on the pitch, Tulio has become the pride of the 1.3 million-strong Japanese community in Brazil and is bringing some qualities which are rare among most other Blue Samurai.
Tulio has scored seven goals in 37 matches for Japan since his debut in 2006.