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ESPN3 2:00 AM UTC Aug 23, 2017
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 By Ben Gladwell

Motta had no desire to represent Brazil

Italy midfielder Thiago Motta says he never wanted to play for Brazil, despite being born in Sao Bernardo de Campo and representing them right through to under-23 level.

In 2011, Motta -- who was born to Italian parents -- made his Italy debut under Cesare Prandelli at the age of 28, and the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder says it is a choice he has never regretted.

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"I played for Brazil through to under-23 level, but I never even dreamed of playing for the senior Brazil side," Motta said at a news conference ahead of the Azzurri's World Cup clash with Costa Rica.

"To be totally honest, I never had that desire that all Brazilians have to be part of the Selecao. It's a beautiful dream and I respect it, but I never shared it.

"I was in Europe and I was convinced that the best thing for me was Italy. I feel like I'm an Italian who was just born in Brazil. Thanks to my family, I had the fortune and the privilege to get an Italian passport.

"I'm happy with the Azzurri; I'm comfortable. I grew as a footballer and as a person thanks to Italy."

Thiago Motta played for Brazil up to under-23 level.

Thiago Motta is set to start his first game at the World Cup on Friday when Italy face Costa Rica. The PSG midfielder is expected to take the place of teammate Marco Verratti in the centre of the midfield, one of three changes being planned by Prandelli.

Ignazio Abate is also set to start with Giorgio Chiellini moving back into the centre of the defence for Gabriel Paletta, while Gianluigi Buffon could return in goal after missing the 2-1 win over England through injury.

Should England and Uruguay only draw on Thursday, a win would secure Prandelli's side a place in the last 16.


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