Cacau received German citizenship in February 2009 and made his international debut in May that year in a friendly match against China. He was part of the German national team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Cacau's career in Germany started with fifth-division side Türkgücü München in the 1999-2000 season, after which he went on to join 1. FC Nürnberg's reserve team. Following his good performances with the reserves, he was given his Bundesliga debut against Hansa Rostock on 18 November 2001. In only his second Bundesliga match, against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on 8 December 2001, he scored two goals in Nürnberg's 4–2 defeat. He finished his first Bundesliga season with six goals in 17 appearances, but failed to repeat the success the following season, when he only scored two goals in 27 appearances and Nürnberg were relegated.
Having already signed a contract with VfB Stuttgart in January 2003, Cacau joined the club for the 2003–04 season. In his first season with Stuttgart, he also made four appearances in the UEFA Champions League In the 2004–05 season, he scored 12 Bundesliga goals and was the club's second-best goalscorer. In the first part of the same season, he also had a successful UEFA Cup campaign, netting three consecutive braces in Stuttgart's first three matches of the competition.
After an unsuccessful season in 2005–06, in which he only scored four Bundesliga goals for Stuttgart, he went on to be one of the key players in the club's run to the league title in 2007, once again becoming their second-best goalscorer with 13 goals, crucially netting both goals in their 2–0 win over Bayern Munich as well as the winning goal in a 3–2 away win over VfL Bochum in the final five rounds of the season. During the 2006–07 season, he also helped Stuttgart reach the final of the DFB-Pokal, scoring five goals in six matches, including the opening goal in the final against his former team Nürnberg. However, he was sent off 11 minutes later and Stuttgart went on to lose the final 3–2 after extra time.
In the 2007–08 season, he made further five appearances for Stuttgart in the UEFA Champions League and also scored his first goal in the competition, netting the equaliser in a 3–2 win over Rangers. He also helped the club finish sixth in the Bundesliga, netting nine goals in 27 appearances during the season. In 2008–09, he scored seven Bundesliga goals in 25 league matches, helping Stuttgart to finish third in the league.
On 20 February 2010, Cacau scored four goals in a 5–1 victory in an away game against 1. FC Köln. On 30 April Cacau scored his final goal of the season in a 2–1 win away at TSG Hoffenheim. This brought his tally to eight Bundesliga goals on the campaign. Following this on 1 May 2010, Cacau extended his contract with VfB Stuttgart until the summer of 2013.
Cacau started the 2011–12 Bundesliga campaign in good form, scoring on a header against Schalke 04 on 6 August helping his side to a 3–0 win. He was called up to the German squad for their game against his native Brazil the following Wednesday.
On 22 March 2013, Cacau took a contract option which extended his contract with Stuttgart until June 2014.
VfB Stuttgart II
Cacau announced his retirement on 11 October 2016.
|Türk Gücü München||2000–01||Landesliga||31||7||—||—||31||7|
|Cerezo Osaka||2014||J. League Div. 1||12||5||2||0||0||0||0||0||14||5|||
|Stuttgart II||2015–16||3. Liga||8||3||—||8||3|||
Although Cacau was born in Brazil, he was never called up by the Brazilian national team.
On 19 May 2009, Cacau was called up by the German national team's coach Joachim Löw for their friendly matches against China and the United Arab Emirates. He made his international debut on 29 May 2009 in Germany's 1–1 draw against China, playing 27 minutes as a substitute for Mario Gomez. He also appeared in Germany's 7–2 win against the United Arab Emirates four days later, playing the entire second half as a substitute for Lukas Podolski and providing an assist for Mario Gomez's third and Germany's fifth goal of the match just over a minute into the second half. He opened his account with the German national team, scoring a brace in a 3–0 win over Malta on 13 May 2010. He scored his first International Goal for Germany in the group stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on 13 June 2010, coming on as a substitute against Australia, and scoring in 1-minute 52 seconds to make it 4–0. He later received a yellow card for diving in the match. After Miroslav Klose had been sent off against Serbia, he played against Ghana but couldn't score in the 1–0 win. In the third place World Cup game, Germany faced Uruguay on 10 July 2010. Cacau started for his German side, but was eventually subbed out. Germany defeated Uruguay 3–2, taking third place at the 2010 South African World Cup.
Cacau remained regular for Germany in the qualifications for UEFA Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. However, Cacau didn't make the cut for Germany's 2012 UEFA Euro squad, even though he was in the 30-men preliminary squad. Cacau wasn't selected for Germany's 2014 FIFA World Cup winning squad.
|1.||13 May 2010||New Tivoli, Aachen, Germany||Malta||1–0||3–0||Friendly|
|2.||13 May 2010||New Tivoli, Aachen, Germany||Malta||2–0||3–0||Friendly|
|3.||29 May 2010||Stadium Puskás Ferenc, Budapest, Hungary||Hungary||3–0||3–0||Friendly|
|4.||13 June 2010||Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa||Australia||4–0||4–0||FIFA World Cup 2010|
|5.||6 September 2011||PGE Arena, Gdańsk, Poland||Poland||2–2||2–2||Friendly|
|6.||29 February 2012||Weserstadion, Bremen, Germany||France||1–2||1–2||Friendly|
|Correct as of 29 February 2012|
Since his naturalization as a German citizen in early 2009, his nickname at VfB (and later also at the Germany national football team) is "Helmut". This nickname was given to him by his SwissVfB team mate at the time, Ludovic Magnin, who stated that, as a German, Cacau should also have a "proper German name".