Dante Bonfim Costa Santos, known in the Brazilian way as just Dante, is the latest member of FC Bayern to represent his country after being called up by two-term Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari to face England at Wembley for a prestigious friendly on February 6. Could he feature at the Confederations Cup or the 2014 World Cup?
"It's all down to him," said Scolari of Dante's maiden appointment during Tuesday's Brazil roster announcement. "A day of training in London isn't really long enough, but if he fits in well with the team and meets our expectations, then of course he's a future candidate."
It's been a long time coming for the 29-year-old center back, who told FCB.tv: "I’ve taken the first step. I want to seize this chance and show my qualities. I'm very, very happy about the call-up."
Dante has been bossing opposition in Europe since 2004, when he transferred to Lille from Brazilian club Juventude. He spent a year at Belgian side Sporting Charleroi, and two at Standard Liege, before his switch to Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach in 2009. He quickly became a cult hero and fan favorite of the Foals for his tactical awareness, defensive prowess and impressive Afro.
Despite being nearly relegated in 2011, Dante signed a three-year extension with 'Gladbach, stating on the team's website: “I am staying past this summer here at Borussia. I would like to, and will concentrate solely on my work and on the upcoming season. I would rather we did not have a season like last year and I will do everything to ensure that."
And he did. The Foals ended up finishing fourth in the 2011-12 Bundesliga season, and Dante was attracting attention from all over Germany. Bayern Munich came calling again - after a first failed attempt to land him when the Jerome Boateng transfer from Manchester City was in doubt - and the rest, as they say, is history.
After transfering to FCB for a paltry 4.7 million euros, Dante has sparkled for Munich. Although many pundits consider the defense to be Bayern's weak spot, they have only allowed seven goals in the league this season. And Dante has started every Bundesliga match. Coach Jupp Heynckes told fcbayern.de: "If Dante is fit and healthy, he starts."
Interestingly, Dante's call-up means nearly every first-team player at Bayern has represented their senior national sides. Only Diego Contento and Tom Starke are uncapped, although both players featured in German youth squads. Die Roten have 889 caps in total, representing Germany, Brazil, Belgium, Austria, France, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Croatia and Peru.
Just a few weeks into the season, being able to watch him every match, I wondered not if he would get called up for the Selecao, but when. He now joins fellow Bayern Brazilians Rafinha and Luis Gustavo with a cap. And hopefully many more to come.