Andreas Pereira has revealed that his Manchester United team-mate Romelu Lukaku tried – and failed – to convince him to pledge his international allegiance to Belgium instead of Brazil.
Pereira, 22, was born in Belgium and represented the country of his birth in youth football, emerging as one of their most promising prospects.
But at Under-20 level Pereira opted to represent Brazil, the home nation of his father Marcos, who spent much of his career as a professional footballer in Belgium.
Pereira has also played for Brazil’s Under-23s and will make his bow for the senior side should he appear in either of their upcoming friendlies against United States and El Salvador.
However, the talented midfielder has had to contend with a little pressure closer to home.
Speaking to Globo Esporte, Pereira said: “Lukaku tried to convince me.
“He spoke to me regularly and told me every time that I had to play for Belgium. I explained to him that that was hard for me.
“It is not the same. Playing for Belgium is different. Playing for the Selecao – that is Brazil. It feels like home.
“Then Lukaku said to me: ‘If that is [your decision], you must follow your heart.’ And he respected my decision.”
The World Cup made particularly difficult viewing for Pereira, as Brazil were dumped out in the quarter-finals by Belgium, losing 2-1 in a gripping contest in Kazan.
“I was in Belgium during the World Cup and that defeat was difficult to swallow,” he said.
“Everyone laughed at me, of course. Wow, I was very angry. I watched the match together with a friend, but that didn’t work, so I got out of the room.
“I was terribly angry, and of course the teasing shots then came. All of my father’s friends said: ‘Now look at Brazil, you can play better for Belgium anyway.’ I said: ‘I really can’t.'”