Richarlison, the flight of the Brazilian “Pigeon” – Liberation
The prodigious scorer for the Seleção entering this World Cup, the Tottenham striker, 25, has had an atypical trajectory in Brazilian football. Very active in his networks, he is the new face of a country that is struggling to turn Bolsonaro’s page.
On Saturday, Richarlison connected to his Twitter account from his room at the Westin Doha Hotel & Spa, where the Brazilian team is staying, and wrote: “Unity and sadness for what happened yesterday in Aracruz, in my State. Teachers and a child died. Can’t believe it still exists. Lots of courage for the families and friends.”
Shooting and fire
The other day, in the small state of Espirito Santo, a 16-year-old boy entered his old school with his father’s weapon (a military policeman) and a swastika on his arm, killing two teachers who aged 48 and 45. and a 12-year-old student, and seriously injured 13 other people. For the number 9 of the Seleção, hero of Brazil’s entry into the World Cup favorite with two goals – including a spectacular one – against Serbia, there was something more serious that day than the ankle injury of his friend Neymar, a source of concern. throughout the country.
Loyal subscribers on the social networks of the striker, who was bought for 70 million euros this summer by Tottenham, have become accustomed to this type of messages. It started during the lockdown, when Brazil became one of the countries hardest hit by the Covid epidemic (more than 690,000 died). While President Jair Bolsonaro, supported by the majority of Brazilian players, continued to minimize the damage of what he described as “little flu“, Richarlison took the opposite course by becoming an ambassador for the “USP Vida” program, launched by the University of São Paulo, to deepen virus research and invest in tests and artificial respirators.
“The coronavirus is an invisible and dangerous enemy, but it showed us who the real stars are. They don’t wear crampons, but the jackets of our team: these are the doctors, scientists and researchers who risking their lives every day”, he explained in a support video, before calling his compatriots a year later to get vaccinated.
Neymar, the anti-model
If he is careful never to position himself in the Brazilian political spectrum, in a deeply divided country, the 25-year-old striker has made many speeches against the policy led by the far-right president, who will leave his throne. in Brasília in January following his defeat by Lula in the second round of the presidential election on 30 October. Post-Covid, the fires in the Pantanal, the largest wetland on the planet, have become another of his warhorses.
“I am not a politician. I can’t put out the fire by myself. But as a Brazil and Everton player [son ancien club en Angleterre, ndlr], I can show people what’s going on. Not just out of sympathy, but to wake up the authorities”he wrote at the end of 2020 in an article for The Players’ Tribune.
A Neymar fan since childhood, Richarlison now embodies in Brazil a kind of anti-model of the Paris Saint-Germain star, both admiring his talent and championing his regular support for Bolsonaro, his legal affairs ( tax fraud, rape accusations) and a form of pride in his game. “By joining Europe in 2017, “Rick” combined both sportingly and financially, but also increased culturally. While remaining a very humble, very simple and very warm boy. referred to Abel Braga, his former coach at Fluminense, the big club in Rio de Janeiro where he appeared in the first division (2016-2017).
A policeman saw
On each of his vacations, the one now nicknamed by all of Brazil “Pigeon” (because of his dance to celebrate his goals) goes home, to Nova Venécia, 700 kilometers north of Rio, where he is easily recognized in a bar. with his friends or on the football field of the city club, which plays in the fourth division and of which he is co-owner.
The son of a builder and a cleaning lady, Richarlison de Andrade grew up in the poor area of Vila Rubia, surrounded by drug traffickers. While all his attacking friends in the Seleção – Neymar, Vinicius, Rodrygo, Raphinha, Antony – entered the training centers of the country’s big clubs before they were 10 years old, he cleaned cars and sold ice cream on the street to the gates of the crowd. Football, he did it within the association Labanan para a better future, a social project of the municipality.
“The president of the association, a policeman, saw him at his school. I trained him for four years. We talked about football, but also about others, the importance of school and education in the life of pro players“, testifies Regis Felisberto Masarim, former Flamengo player, also from Nova Venécia.
After two inconclusive attempts to merge the Avaí training centers and Figueirense, Richarlison considered giving up his dream of becoming a professional. The last attempt, at América Mineiro, a second division club based in Belo Horizonte, was finally the right one.
The following is dazzling: three years after signing his first contract, the “Pigeon” was called up by Tite for selection, the day after a disappointing 2018 World Cup. Here he is with the mythical number 9. “Rick deserves more than anyone else to be where he is today. He fought tirelessly to earn his place. said Abel Braga. That for a fairer Brazil could be more audible in the rhythm of his exploits in Qatari lands.