Germany's adopted son out to repay debt

Germany gave Cacau a new life and a new passport, and now the Brazilian-born striker wants to pay the country back with World Cup goals in the decisive Group D match against Ghana tomorrow. A loss to The Black Stars could result in three-time champion Germany's earliest exit from the World Cup.

"We know our qualities and have no doubt that we'll make it," Cacau said yesterday, two days before the match at Soccer City.

Germany need to rebound from a surprise 1-0 loss to Serbia which left Ghana atop the group with four points. Germany and Serbia have three points apiece and Australia have one.

Although Cacau has received no assurances from coach Joachim Löw, there are strong indications he will start for the suspended Miroslav Klose. He has been Löw's favourite backup striker in recent games.

"I've had no signal whether I will play or not and I don't know. Maybe I'll know more after training," the 29-year-old striker said. "But if I get to play from the start, I will try to help the team with my strengths – speed, ball control and finishing."

Cacau did not arrive in Germany on an expensive transfer to a big club and did not go through a hurried naturalisation process to become available for the German national team.

He arrived in the country as an 18-year-old member of a dancing group with the help of relative. He didn't have a football contract, but he had the belief that he could succeed.

Cacau got a tryout with Turk Gucu, a Turkish-dominated club competing in Germany's fifth division and signed his first contract.

His performances in the amateur ranks caught the attention of Nuremberg, who signed Cacau for its second team. But he quickly gained promotion to the Bundesliga side. When Nuremberg were relegated, Cacau signed for Stuttgart and won the Bundesliga in 2007. He extended his contract with Stuttgart earlier this year.

Born in Santo Andre outside Sao Paulo, Cacau could not keep a place in the junior side of the local giants of Brazilian football as a teenager. His mother was divorced and working two jobs to feed her three sons.

Cacau, who got the nickname from mispronouncing his given name Claudemir when he was a kid, chipped in to the family budget by washing cars and trimming grass for neighbours and selling soft drinks and chips from a makeshift stall alongside a highway. Then came his move to Germany and his 10-year rise that has taken him to football's greatest stage.

Cacau said he'd watched Brazil's matches in South Africa, but "more as spectator and not as a fan. I do have emotions but I watch more to see the tactics and the quality of play," he said.

Claudemir Jeronimo Barreto – Cacau's full name – is "at heart" a German, his mother Ana Barreto has said. "Germany took him in her arms and gave him everything," she said. Her son often speaks of being "adopted" by Germany. Cacau became a citizen in February last year – passing the naturalisation exam without mistakes – and made his Germany debut three months later.

In 10 international games, Cacau has four goals, including one in the 4 -0 opening World Cup win over Australia, when he scored two minutes into his World Cup debut after coming on as a substitute for Klose.

"First game, first goal, I've put all that behind me, although it's all been very special," he said. "There is a very important game ahead of us and that's what I try to concentrate on, while trying to forget the circumstances. There has been no more important game in my career, although it was similar when we won the Bundesliga title."

Cacau's presence has provided the German team with an element of Latin flair and when he's come off the bench he's often revived the team's game.

There's no doubt his relaxed, happy disposition is popular with the team. But his disposition shouldn't mask his drive to succeed.

"I want to win every match and you should see me in the locker room after we lose," Cacau said. "But you have to enjoy life and I am not going to change that."

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence