They all start somewhere – mine began in Belo Horizonte.
I had a great childhood. I love the neighbourhood I’m from. When I was young I spent the majority of my time there. I was close to the stadium, the Mineirão, and when I was a kid I really wanted to play there when I grew up. I made the most of my childhood, which meant I played a lot of street football and messed around a lot with my mates. I’d go to my friends’ houses, shout up at their windows, summon them down and we’d all just go down to the street and play football. It was great.
Whenever I go home with my family, I go back to my neighbourhood and we spend time in some of the cool squares there, or go to the lake close by and have a nice walk. It’s great. So I only have good memories from my childhood, in a humble family in a big city.
So, you all know Brazilians really love football, right? We’re crazy for it.
My dad put me into a football school when I was four.
From that point I just kept improving. I’d play organised football, both eleven a side and futsal.
(You know what futsal is, right? It’s football played on a court.)
During one futsal game, there was a fitness coach at the school who also worked for Atlético Mineiro. He asked me if I wanted to go to Atlético for a trial. Back then I was a huge Atlético fan, so obviously I went.
At 10 years old I was having a trial for my boyhood club, one of Brazil’s biggest clubs. Despite that, I was chilled. I knew the potential I had, I knew I had what it took to play for the club, so I gave my all there and managed to pass my trial. They took me on.
After that, things started moving.
I started moving.
I spent a few years at Atlético before I moved to Porto Alegre when I was 15. I’d never left my hometown and it was a tough experience, while also being a good one. It was difficult at first, so I asked my mum to come with me, which she agreed to. She changed her job so that she was able to be with me in Porto Alegre, and that really helped a lot. She gave me a grounding which I really needed at that time in my life. Mum really helped me a lot. The next year, I moved to Internacional and everything started to go well, I’d come to a big club and I started playing as a professional and I managed to make a good impression.
Then, destiny chose something special for me.
I was still playing for Internacional’s reserve team most of the time. I hadn’t properly got myself into the first team, but I was named in the squad for our trip to face Atlético. My former club. The club I supported.
Guess who was playing for Atlético…
I rented a minibus to take all my family to the game, and they all went crazy when I came onto the pitch as a sub. We were losing 2-0 when I came on.
Then, I scored.
Against my former club, the club I supported, at the stadium in the neighbourhood where I grew up, and playing against my idol.
The cross comes in and I just head it in the back of the net.
I get the ball, run back to the centre circle, and put the ball at Ronaldinho’s feet.
Ah, man… it was just amazing. The irony of my destiny. Amazing. We ended up losing the game, but for me it was just so special to have happened like it did.
I was still working with his brother at the time. Assis is someone who is important to me; a guy I have a lot of time for. He was the one who took me to Internacional in the first place. He helped me out with a lot of things during the course of my career. He was really important for me. Not just Ronaldinho’s brother; he’s my brother too.
Assis also helped me with my next move.
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