Defender Dante remembers Brazil's 'painful' 7-1 World Cup defeat to Germany

    Story highlights

    • Three years since Brazil's 7-1 World Cup thrashing
    • Dante says the defeat was "very, very painful"
    • Brazil defender now plays for Nice

    (CNN)July 8, 2014 is a date etched indelibly, painfully into the memories of Brazilian football fans all across the globe.

    It was the day their world came crashing down, the day their heroes were humiliated on home soil when they were on the brink of a World Cup final at their cherished Maracana.
      Three years on, the memories of that record 7-1 World Cup semifinal crushing by Germany are still vivid for Brazil center-back Dante.
      Those 90 minutes in Belo Horizonte arguably haunt the 33-year-old even more than any other teammate. It was the only match he played at that World Cup.
      "That defeat was very, very painful," Dante -- who replaced suspended captain Thiago Silva that day -- recalls.
      "Yes, it's been hard to get over it.
      "Some people tried to oppress us after that game. But that's the way it is, and in the football world you always need to pick yourself back up and keep working."
      Dante and his teammates made history that night, but for all the wrong reasons. The records stack up against them.
      The humiliating loss was Brazil's first competitive home defeat in 39 years and equaled their heaviest margin of defeat -- a 6-0 thumping by Uruguay in 1920.
      No team had ever scored seven goals in a World Cup semifinal before, while the match was also the biggest World Cup semifinal defeat on record.
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      Within 29 astonishing minutes, Germany were 5-0 up and many Brazil fans were reduced to tears even before halftime.
      Surprisingly for a country renowned for its attacking flair, Brazil did not have a shot on target until the 51st minute. It was a dark day for the hosts.
      The absence of captain Silva and star forward Neymar, injured in the quarterfinal, had a bigger impact than anyone could have imagined.
      What should have been one of the greatest moments in the country's footballing history became one of its worst, putting the loss alongside the 1950 World Cup final defeat by Uruguay in Rio -- otherwise known as the 'Maracanazo'.

      'People forget about respect'

      Brazil fans weep as they watch their team being humilated by Germany.
      Germany eventually went on to win a fourth World Cup title, beating Argentina in the final to put them just one behind Brazil's overall record.
      A puffy-eyed, sobbing David Luiz became the pantomime villain that day for is defensive frailty, but the rest of the squad suffered too. Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari described the match as the worst day of his life.
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      Soon after the defeat -- and the subsequent 3-0 third-place loss to the Netherlands -- Dante had to return to Germany where he was playing his football for Bayern Munich.
      In a country which continued to celebrate the World Cup victory for months, Dante -- still coming to terms with what had happened -- found it a very lonely place.
      "If I had been in another country, it would have been easier," he says. "People quickly forget about respect. They forget everything you've done.
      "You find yourself in a complicated situation. You find less people to help you, to cheer you up. You are alone. You have two or three friends helping you, nothing more.
      "You are facing people who, as soon as they have the opportunity, try to hurt you by reminding you of this event. It was very striking and hard, but I learned a lot from that."

      Looking forward

      David Luiz leaves the field in tears. The defender was heavily criticized for his role in the defeat.
      Two years later, Brazil did at least partly exorcise their demons at the Rio Olympics as an Under-23 side, led by Barcelona star Neymar, beat Germany on penalties to win the gold medal for the first time in the country's history.
      The ability to not let the mind linger on that brutal defeat, however painful, is what allowed Dante, his teammates and the Brazilian public to move on.
      Dante, now playing for French side OGC Nice in Ligue 1, talks about the defeat matter-of-factly. He says he is over it.
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      "For me, in football, what's done is done," he says with a shrug. "My victories belong to the past as well.
      "After suffering from so many people trying to blame me, to put me in trouble, I managed to overcome that all thanks to hard work. You always need to question yourself, do some self-analysis, improve.
      "I learned a lot from that. I have no regrets. Today I'm happy. Once again, in life, you need to forge ahead."