The Journey of Richarlison: Brazil to Britain

Twenty five years ago was when it all started for Richarlison de Andrade, who was born on the 10th May 1997.

He was born in a small area called Nova Venécia, a place in which poverty and crime were rife. 

Richarlison experienced a lot in his youth, including being held at gun point by thugs in his local town. 

When asked about his childhood in an interview with SporTV, the Brazilian said: "People used to call me ‘scumbag’ or ‘trouble-maker’ when I walked down the street. But I didn’t listen to the negative voices.”

Life was hard for the Andrade family. Richarlison helped out by washing cars, selling ice lollies and making chocolate truffles, all in a bid to keep his family happy. 

 

Being thrown into an uneasy environment from birth brought undisputed hard work and determination, which he still holds close to his personality today.

His teammate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg describes him as having a "fantastic mindset" and being "crazy but in a good way".

'O Pais do Futebol' which translates to 'the country of football' is the phrase attached to the region of Brazil by their citizens.

Even when money was not there, football was.

The sport changed his life and guided him away from the dangers that he was engulfed with during his childhood.

Richarlison said: "A lot of my childhood friends are in prison, I could have easily gone down that path. Football put me on the right path." (O Globo)

The forward experienced another hurdle when his parents separated whilst he was still living in Nova Venécia.

A father and son bond was created when Richarlison decided to stay with his dad. 

The pair played football together as much as they could but time was limited due to his father's job as a stonemason. 

But even at a young age, Richarlison did not use his restricted boyhood to hold him back. 

In an exclusive interview with FourFourTwo, Richarlison said: "Every Monday I would run 9 km (5.5 miles) to the football school and train, whether it was in the hot sun or the rain. I didn’t want to do anything else."

  •  Richarlison's leap into the footballing world

His heart was set, football was more than just a passion, it was his life. 

However, the Brazilian's first serious encounter with the sport brought another set back. 

Trials for local teams Avai and Figueirense were unsuccessful, with the latter turning Richarlison away on his birthday which forced him to wait 10 hours at a bus stop, this being the only option to return home.

"Figueirense told me they didn’t want me – on my birthday. I was very sad and thought about giving up, but when I got home to my family they gave me strength, and my coach at Gazetinha told me to keep going,” he admitted.

He came back stronger, with his coach's inspiration critical to his rebound. 

Atheltico Mineiro’s Under 17s welcomed a new player into their squad, with that boy being Richarlison. 

Four goals in as many games earned him a promotion, a place in the Under 20s.

Atheltico Mineiro's senior team was the next step, which came sooner rather than later, after injuries forced the squad to look to the youth ranks to make up numbers.

His journey was going in a positive direction and football seemed like a real possibility for Richarlison. 

A life which could have been so different, a life which could have been full of pessimism and crime. 

Marcelo Toscano, a former teammate of Richarlison at Athletico Mineiro, said: "He made finishing look easy, with his right foot and left. He could dribble past you on either side, so it was hard for defenders to cope with him."  

 

  • A move to the capital

This aura of talent captured the attention of Brazilian giants Fluminense. 

Richarlison moved to the capital of Rio de Janeiro following his £2.4 million transfer. 

Put yourself in his shoes for a moment, you are an 18 year old boy who has spent most of his life in an area with just over 50,000 people, but now, you have to face a city, on your own, home to six million.

These were the sacrifices he knew he had to make if he wanted to fulfil his childhood dreams and make his father proud. 

It was here, in the beautiful capital, where Richarlison made a name for himself. 

A total of eleven goals and seven assists in 44 games for the club earned him a spot in the Brazil Under 20s. 

  • A sponsor that changed everything

Alongside this success came money, something that had been inconceivable for the Andrade family to even imagine.

Nike took Richarlison under their wing and offered the young Brazilian a three year contract, something he could not refuse. 

This agreement not only brought cash, but fame and attention. 

A player who had been moving across Brazil to play football was now gaining attention from some of the biggest European giants. 

One of those teams being Ajax from the Netherlands.

The paperwork was all but complete for the forward to make his move across the world to compete in Amsterdam. 

But, in the final hours, a certain phone call altered his plans. 

 

  • The Pozzo Family 

Premier League side Watford looked to pose competition to the Dutch giants. 

As it looked destined for Richarlison to move to Ajax, Watford agreed an £11.2 million deal with Fluminense.

The Watford owners, the Pozzo Family, were the driving force of the deal. 

Dubbed the "kings of South American scouting", the multi millionaire family sign a lot of their talent from South America.

Players including Joao Pedro, Roberto Pereyra and Luis Muriel all entered the European stage due to the scout network of the Pozzo Family, who also own Italian club Udinese. 

Richarlison was no different. 

Marco Silva, who was the Hornets manager at the time, phoned the Brazilian, outlining the positives of a move to London. 

A convincing phone call to say the least. 

Richarlison rejected the chance of playing in the Champions League with Ajax, and chose to sign for English club Watford ahead of the 2017/18 season. 

In an interview with France Football, Richarlison said: “I was on the verge of signing for Ajax, really close. Watford’s proposal was also very good, but what changed the game was manager Marco Silva. He wanted me especially"

“I got him on the phone, he put trust in me, I believed in him. This was the right decision.”

His first season at Vicarage Road was one of success.

A move that could have so easily failed due to his inexperience at a high level transformed into the complete opposite. 

Richarlison became the only Watford man to play every game of the season, scoring five goals and achieving four assists. 

The Hornets achieved a respectable 14th place finish thanks to Richarlison's introduction, but his time at Vicarage Road came to a conclusion sooner than he expected.

  • From London to Merseyside 

Marco Silva was dismissed from his role as Watford manager in January 2018, a departure which was critical to Richarlison. 

The man who reassured him about his move to Vicarage Road, the man he grew to love, had left. 

However, the pair were inseparable. 

Marco Silva convinced Everton to splash out £35 million on  Richarlison, with the player making his move to Goodison Park in the summer of 2018. 

Doubts spread across the blue side of Merseyside, with many fans asking themselves, is he really worth £35 million?

The answer to that question was yes, yes he was. 

Along with making his debut for the Brazilian first team, Richarlison managed to score 13 league goals in each of his first two seasons at the club, making him the Toffee's top goalscorer in both campaigns. 

He quickly became a fan favourite, with his charisma and passion charming the Everton support. 

A fan inside Goodison said: "He is like a 12 year old, but very likeable."

"Unique" is the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Richarlison, there is no other player like him. 

The best way to sum up his character would be, if he played for your team, you loved him, but if he played against you, you hated him.  

 

Richarlison de Andrade became the main man at Everton.

He was the first name on the team sheet and was Mr. Reliable.

A player who had developed into a versatile forward, with his abilities allowing him to play in multiple positions across the front line. 

Whether an injury to Dominic Calvert Lewin or Theo Walcott jeopardised the Merseyside club, Richarlison was able to fill in. 

His loyalty and commitment was rewarded with a five year contract which would have kept the Brazilian at the club until 2024.

A valuable life lesson on how hard work pays off. 

Richarlison improved day by day, season by season which led to him  being called up to the Brazil national team for the Copa América.

The special moment when he found out the news was captured on camera, a wholesome video with his family in Brazil which circulated social media.

His nation fell short at the final hurdle with a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to Argentina.

Albeit a moment of grief and sadness, everyone close to Richarlison was all but proud. 

From a young boy selling ice creams on the streets of Espirito Santo to starting for his nation in the Copa América final, it was a journey worth remembering. 

As he returned to Everton for the new season, Rafa Benitez had been appointed. 

Richarlison, who was still missing the influence of Marco Silva, did not make a good impression on the new manager. 

Rafa Benitez said: "Sometimes his frustration shows, if it is a foul and he doesn’t get the foul, then his reaction is out of control."

The Spaniard demanded the forward to change his ways if he wanted to become a key player for Everton. 

However, it was not just a difficult period of time for Richarlison. 

Everton found themselves just six points above the relegation zone in January which led to Benitez getting the sack, with Frank Lampard taking his position as gaffer. 

The situation did not improve and a relegation battle was on the horizon for Everton as the season drew to a close. 

It was the excellence of Richarlison which kept the Toffees in the Premier League, with goals against Crystal Palace and Brentford becoming key to survival. 

With Everton heading towards a so called 'dimise', Richarlison's future at the club was always uncertain come the summer transfer window. 

Money problems at the club did not help the cause and Everton needed to raise some funds to keep in line with the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. 

Amid transfer speculation, Richarlison admitted he had spoken to Lampard about his future. 

He said: "I made myself clear to the board, I have talked with Lampard as well. He knows what I want."

  • A big money move

For weeks and weeks, the top clubs in England competed for the signature of Richarlison, but it was Tottenham Hotspur who came out on top. 

In July 2022, he put pen to paper in North London in a deal worth nearly £60 million. 

Tottenham's new number nine spoke about how the decision to play for the Lilywhites was a no brainer. 

"I always said it was my dream to play in the Champions League and now this dream will come true," he said. 

  • "Cry more"

Yet to reach ten appearances for the club, Richarlison has already made an impact and featured in headlines across the country. 

Many in the media critiqued his showboating antics against Nottingham Forest, an event Jamie Carragher called "daft". 

Richarlison took to Twitter to respond to the negativity assigned to his name. 

"Cry more" was the statement released by the forward in response to former professionals calling him 'unsportsmanlike' and 'classless'.

Neil Warnock, the former Middlesbrough manager, applauded the showboating and encouraged the Brazilian to continue entertaining the fans. 

The moment he had been waiting for, the moment he had spoken so highly about in interviews was finally here. 

Tottenham hosted Marseille in their opening game of the Champions League

Over 60,000 people became fixated on one man making his debut, Richarlison de Andrade. 

An occasion so beautifully set up for his first Tottenham goal, under the lights in the North London.

And he most certainly performed.

The Brazilian scored two headers late on to help Tottenham to three points in their first European encounter of the season.

His name was belted out across the stadium and tears of joy were spotted at full time when he shared a special moment with his father who watched on. 

It seems crazy to think how a boy, who we know could have easily been led down the wrong path, was now scoring goals in the most prestigious club competition in world football.  

A journey like no other.

 

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