Gone but not forgotten, Fernandao gets World Cup moment

On an overcast day in Porto Alegre a steady line of mourners stopped to lay flowers or scribble condolences to Fernandao onto the walls of a visitors centre in the shadow of Beira Rio stadium which is hosting five World Cup matches before once again becoming the home ground for Internacional.

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“He was our leader, he was a great Brazilian and we loved him,” said Felipe, an Internacional supporter who stood silently weeping and rubbing tears from his eyes before finding enough composure to speak. “It is such a loss, only 36.

“We are who we are because of this man.”

The shrine underscores the passion Brazilians have for the sport and men who play it.

Fernandao, who died in a helicopter crash on June 7, led Internacional to Copa Libertadores and World Club Cup triumphs in 2006 and even though he was capped just once for his country World Cup fans passing through Porto Alegre have stopped for a moment to honour him.

Fernandao Lucio da Costa played 190 times for the Porto Alegre club and scored 77 goals. He also managed the side in 2012.

Red and white flowers, the colours of Internacional mix with the yellow of Brazil piled along the length of a wall covered in moving tributes.

“Thank you my captain,” read one.

“Thank you, what a great history you have left us,” said another.

Fernandao’s career also included a stint with French side Marseille. French fans in Porto Alegre for the team’s tournament opener against Honduras on Sunday also took time out to pay their respects.

“You will always be our countryman,” read the message, a French flag laid beneath the note.

Floriano, a security guard at the stadium, said since the start of the tournament he has watched the shrine grow with visitors stopping by day and night.

Some weep, others stand stoically taking time to read the many tributes.

“Lots of people come by every day, lots of people, many tourists” said Floriano. “Even members of the team (Internacional) have come to pay their respects.”

Since his death tributes have poured in across Brazil.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, herself an Inter fan, was quick to express her sadness.

“I am saddened by the death of #Fernandão, a hero to all Internacional fans and all lovers of football,” said the Brazilian President on Twitter.

(Editing by Nigel Hunt)