After an international career spent setting up goals for others rather than scoring himself, Portugal midfielder Deco prepared for the start of his last World Cup by talking more about others than himself.
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The 32-year-old Deco will retire from Portugal at the end of the World Cup, where the team will face Ivory Coast first in Tuesday’s Group G opener for both clubs, and later North Korea and the country of his birth, Brazil.
"I am not even thinking of that at this moment," Deco said Monday of his retirement plans. "That doesn’t even cross my mind. It is the moment that I am living for."
Deco has scored five goals in 74 games for Portugal since 2003 and is expected to start Tuesday at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in a supporting role to Cristiano Ronaldo, who is scoreless in his last eight matches for Portugal.
Injuries were a problem for the Real Madrid winger during qualifying, and he hasn’t scored for the national team since a 1-0 win over Finland in February 2009. He had 26 goals for Real Madrid this season.
"We are hoping to see these goals coming," Deco said. "It is important that he scores, they will help us to go through to the next phase."
Deco, whose full name is Anderson Luis de Souza, had one goal at the last World Cup, when Portugal made it through to the semifinals. He received Portuguese citizenship in 2002 after completing six years of residency in the European country.
On Monday, he was asked about the uncertain status of his Chelsea teammate, striker Didier Drogba, for Ivory Coast in Tuesday’s match. Drogba remains a doubtful starter after breaking his right arm in a friendly against Japan on June 4.
"I did not speak with Didier and I do not know if he will play," Deco said. "I hope so because he is a friend of mine. If he played, it would be good for the game."
Deco was also asked about the injury status of teammate Nani, who told television stations in Lisbon that he could be recovered from a shoulder injury "in a week."
That would make the Manchester United midfielder, originally announced as out of the tournament, eligible to play for Portugal against Brazil on June 25 in Durban, the teams’ final group game.
"I really don’t know what to say," Deco said. "What I heard is that he broke his shoulder and that it would be difficult for him to be able to play. But as players we don’t have that information."