Lazio defender Luiz Felipe has pulled out of Italy’s Under-21 squad after pledging his international allegiance to Brazil.
Luiz Felipe was called up for the Azzurrini’s upcoming friendlies against Austria and Croatia, but the Brazil-born defender will instead pursue an international career with the Selecao.
An FIGC statement read: “Lazio player Luiz Felipe, called up to the Under 21 squad, tonight arrived at the Azzurrini’s camp in Rome and expressed a state of mind, linked to his dual Italian and Brazilian nationality, which wouldn’t have allowed him to participate in two upcoming friendly matches against Austria and Croatia serenely.
“Coach Luigi Di Biagio has therefore decided to remove the player from his squad and send him back to his club.”
The 21-year-old later added on Instagram: “I thank the Italian Football Federation for considering me but, after a long period of reflection, necessary for such a delicate choice, despite being flattered to be able to wear the prestigious shirt of the Italian national team, I’ve decided to compete for the Selecao jersey.
“A heartfelt thanks goes to Coach Luigi Di Biagio who, with patience and sensitivity, supported me at such a complex time in my career.
“Football is, above all, a matter of heart and feeling, and I’m sure my decision will be understood.”
Luiz Felipe, who moved to Italy in 2016 and but had recently become eligible for the Azzurri through naturalisation, has made 17 appearances for Lazio this season.