Juninho is the latest World Cup winner to be unveiled for Star Sixes, joining a glittering Brazil squad for the inaugural tournament at The O2 in July.
The former Middlesbrough magician is one of a group of five players announced, alongside another Brazilian, former Deportivo La Coruña forward Djalminha.
England, meanwhile, have also bolstered their ranks with Arsenal legend Paul Merson, former Liverpool and Fulham ace Danny Murphy and former Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie, who will all be linking up with Steven Gerrard’s team, taking the hosts squad to nine players.
And it doesn’t stop there as former Spain defender Carlos Marchena, a World Cup and European Champion with La Roja, comes in to join up with his international centre-back partner, Carles Puyol, in his Spanish side.
But it is Juninho’s addition that will really whet the appetite. The play maker is best known to British fans after three spells with Boro between 1995 and 2004, when he became the first Brazilian player to really succeed in the Premier League.
The diminutive midfielder was loved for his skill and courage in equal measure as he helped Middlesbrough reach both domestic cup finals in 1997 and win the League Cup in 2004, later being voted as the club’s greatest-ever player in a fans’ poll.
Juninho will face his former Middlesbrough teammate Fabrizio Ravanelli on the opening night at Star Sixes, 13 July, as a Brazil side including Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo take on Italy, who will also have superstar Alessandro del Piero leading the line.
On the same night, Murphy, Hendrie and Merson will be in the England squad with Gerrard, as well as others including Michael Owen, David James and Rio Ferdinand, as they face Marchena’s Spain, with another Boro icon Gaizka Mendieta also involved.
Star Sixes promises to be four days of spectacular six-a-side action at London’s O2 Arena, with other world-class stars including Robert Pirès of France, Germany’s Michael Ballack, and Jay–Jay Okocha of Nigeria all in action.