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Former Germany striker Cacau unveiled as DFB's integration commissioner

The DFB have unveiled former Germany striker Cacau as their representative responsible for integration. The Brazil-born frontman made 23 appearances for his adopted country.

Claudemir Jeronimo Barreto, commonly known as "Cacau" was officially introduced as the DFB's (German football association) integration commissioner at a press conference at their Frankfurt headquarters on Tuesday. The 35-year-old former striker had already taken up his new duties last month.

"I don't want to just be the face, I want to really get into the issue," Cacau said. I want to be an example for people who come to Germany."

DFB President Reinhard Grindel described Cacau as an asset, not just to the German FA, but all of German football.

Starting out in the lower leagues

Born in Brazil, Cacau came to Germany in 1999 at the age of 18, playing first for a lower league team, Türk Gücü Munich, where the coach spoke Turkish, and one of his teammates translated the team talks into German. 

"I didn't understand either one," Cacau said. This experience taught him how important it was to learn the language of the country he was living in. "You really begin to understand that integration begins with yourself."

Eventually, Cacau was picked up by Nuremberg's reserves and in 2001 he made his debut in the Bundesliga. After two seasons in Nuremberg, he moved to fellow Bundesliga club Stuttgart, going on to make a total of 281 appearances and scoring 86 goals in the Bundesliga for both clubs. He was a member of the Stuttgart side that won the Bundesliga in 2007.

Fußball 2. Bundesliga 27. Spieltag VfB Stuttgart - 1. FC Nürnberg (picture-alliance/dpa)

Cacau's 13 goals helped Stuttgart win the 2007 title

In 2009 he became a naturalized German and was quickly selected for the national team by head coach Joachim Löw, who also took him to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. With the national team, he made 23 appearances and scored six goals. 

He ended his playing career earlier this year after time spent playing for Stuttgart's reserves.

Cacau recently began an online university course in sports management.

"In my 14 or 15 years in professional football I amassed a great deal of practical knowledge, now I am learning the theory," he said.

Communication the key

As the DFB's integration commissioner, Cacau plans to start by reaching out to Germany's regional football associations. 

"As a Brazilian, when I first came here I, adapting (to German society) was a no-brainer," he said, while recognizing that this isn't the case with every new person who enters the country.

"I want to know why this is, and you can only find out by talking to people. It's not like we already know everything, so by talking to people, we can develop new ideas.   

Cacau has already spent the past six years as the DFB's integration ambassador. That was more a "representative role," he said. Now he wants to be more hands-on. 

His appointment comes at a time when Germany has been experiencing a high influx of migrants. According to the German interior ministry, an estimated 890,000 asylum seekers entered the country in 2015.

 

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