'I am Chinese' - Brazilian-born attacker Elkeson called up for China

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Elkeson Shanghai SIPG
The Guangzhou Evergrande star was born and raised in Brazil but has successfully switched his international allegiances

China have selected their first naturalised player with no Chinese heritage after including Brazilian-born attacker Elkeson in their latest 35-man squad ahead of World Cup qualifying next month.  

The 30-year-old, who has been playing club football in China since 2013, accepted his call-up having never represented his native Brazil. 

Elkeson did come close to playing for his nation of birth in September 2011 after being called up by then Selecao coach Mano Menezes but didn't end up playing any minutes.  

Having starred in the Chinese Super League for both Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG in recent years, Elkeson believes playing for the national team represents a natural next step in his career.   

"Today, I want to tell the world: I officially started a new journey, I am Chinese, I want to return all the love and care you have had for me over the years," Elkeson said via a Weibo post. 

"This is a country that is vigorously developing their football and a country that many people in the world still don't understand. It has only participated in the World Cup once. For me personally, this is a gamble in my career. But the blueprint of Guangzhou Evergrande convinced me that I can write down my history here. 

"But I want a new challenge, I want to see where my limits are. In 2016, I joined Shanghai SIPG. I spent three and a half years in Shanghai, 116 games, and two championship trophies, all creating the history of the club. 

"Another successful experience but I am still not satisfied because I want to repay the love of the Chinese people in these seven years. 

"I am very happy and comfortable in China. Here is my home. At the right time, I learned of a very challenging possibility, but I accepted this challenge without thinking. I know that this is the next step I should take." 

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Elkeson, who returned to Guangzhou in July, has won the CSL four times since arriving in 2013 and also has two Asian Champions League titles to his name.  

Prior to moving to China, Elkeson began his career in Brazil with Vitoria in 2009 before moving to Botafogo two years later.  

The Chinese national team, currently coached by Marcello Lippi, have recorded wins in their last two games and will play Maldives in a World Cup qualifier on September 10 with Elkeson in line to make his debut.