An emotional Cassio could not hold back his joy and pride after he, his wife and two sons officially became Australian citizens at a ceremony on the hallowed turf of Hindmarsh Stadium this morning.
Following their pledge of commitment and loyalty to the Commonwealth of Australia, and a rendition of the National Anthem, Cassio and his family were welcomed as Australian citizens by Federal Member for Hindmarsh Steve Georganas MP in front of a host of close friends, including Adelaide United team mates.
Cassio has been patiently waiting for the day to become a naturalised Australian, and now that he is, Adelaide United’s longest serving current player and dual Club Champion could not be more delighted.
“I’m so proud. This is a real special moment for me and my family,” Cassio said.
“I remember the first time I stepped into this country and especially into Adelaide in 2007, I remember telling my wife that I had really good feelings coming to Australia and hopefully we stay here for more than one year.”
“We’ve been here for five and a half years and it has been hard staying away from our families back in Brazil, but I’ve found new friends and new family here and that makes me feel so good and I’m very proud at this moment.”
Before being identified as a possible signing for the Reds prior to the 2006/07 season, Cassio admits he never thought he would be one day calling himself Australian and Adelaide home, further accentuating the marvel of the world game.
“Playing football brought me here to Australia, to Adelaide United, and I’m so thankful to Adelaide United for bringing me here and that’s where it all started from,” Cassio said.
“I would never have imagined that I’d come here to play soccer and now I’m an Australian citizen.”
“It’s not just about the soccer but about lifestyle as well, I really love being here.”
“I would hate to think that if I left Australia and wanted to come back that I couldn’t come back permanently, but now I can come and stay here anytime. I feel like a real Australian now.”
Cassio will now be classified as an Australian player in the Hyundai A-League, while he is also eligible to represent the Qantas Socceroos, something that he dreams of doing one day but knows there are no guarantees.
“My first aim is just to be Australian. If a Socceroos call up came it would be a dream, but I have to work hard every day, I have a lot of respect for the players that are in the national squad now…so if I train and play well, then the coach might look at me.”
However, for the remainder of the Reds’ 2012 AFC Champions League campaign, Cassio will still be registered as a foreigner as regulations for the competition stipulate that a player must have obtained the nationality at least one year prior to the opening match day of the ACL competition of that year, which was impossible as Cassio only qualified to be able to apply for his citizenship on the 17 August 2012.
Now that he is a citizen of both Australia and his birthplace Brazil, Cassio says that from now on he is a ‘Brozzie’, while if it came down to who to support if Australia met Brazil in the World Cup, his allegiances are split.
“That’s a hard one…I’ll go for a draw,” Cassio said with a trademark smile.
He also said one of the first things he is going to do to celebrate the occasion is have a traditional Aussie barbeque, although it will wait until tomorrow as his first priority is facing Brisbane Roar in a pre season trial at Hindmarsh tonight.
Finally, Adelaide United FC conveys its thanks to Mr Georganas for the important role he played in Cassio’s citizenship process.
“Our sincere thanks go out to Mr. Steve Georganas and his office for their assistance in this matter and also to the staff at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship who have been very helpful in processing Cassio’s application in a very timely and efficient manner,” Adelaide United Football Director Michael Petrillo said.