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Brazil let Bolivia star Marcelo Martins join their team photo before World Cup qualifier

Striker whose dad is Brazilian played for the Samba Boys up to Under-20 level and joins BOTH NATIONS' pre-match snap

This may look like Lee Nelson’s latest prank – but we can assure you this is real life.

Brazil welcomed opponent Marcelo Martins into their own team photo as they faced Bolivia in their World Cup qualifier last night.

The Bolivian number 9 joined in the Samba Boys’ picture, but there’s a very good reason why he was allowed to.


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Bolivia striker Marcelo Martins takes part in one of most unusual team photos ever - as he joins the opposition Brazil line-up

AP:Associated Press
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Bolivia striker Marcelo Martins takes part in one of most unusual team photos ever – as he joins the opposition Brazil line-up before the World Cup qualifier

Marcelo Martins makes it an amazing double by also appearing in his own team's photo

AFP or licensors
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Chinese Super League star Marcelo Martins makes it an amazing double by also appearing in his own team Bolivia’s photo

The gesture recognised Martins’ close connections with Brazil.

He played for the world’s most famous football nation up to Under-20s’ level and his dad is Brazilian.

Martins, 30, also featured for top-flight Brazilian teams Vitoria and Cruzeiro before joining Shakhtar Donetsk in 2008.


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He returned to Brazil four years later with Gremio, also playing for Flamengo and Cruzeiro on loan.

Martins beamed as he took his place in the pre-match snap alongside Neymar, Dani Alves and Co.

But the game itself was far more competitive, a lively 0-0 draw at the Estadio Hernando Siles stadium in La Paz, Bolivia.

Marcelo Martins fends off Brazil legend Neymar during his night to remember

Reuters
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Marcelo Martins fends off Brazil legend Neymar during his night to remember

Admittedly it was something of a dead rubber as Brazil have already qualified for Russia 2018 as unbeaten group winners.

And Bolivia know they will not be travelling to the finals next year.

But, largely thanks to keeper Carlos Lampe, Bolivia at least kept up their 32-year undefeated record against Brazil in home World Cup qualifiers.

Marcelo Martins tussles with Brazil's Joao Miranda during the goalless draw

AFP or licensors
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Marcelo Martins tussles with Brazil’s Joao Miranda during the goalless draw

Paris Saint-Germain’s £198million world-record buy Neymar twice went close on a difficult surface, before Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus flicked a second-half cross against the bar.

But Bolivia held on as their battling qualities belied their poor qualification campaign overall.

And it confirmed a memorable night for Martins, who has played for Chinese Super League sides Changchun Yalai and Wuhan Zali in the last two seasons.