The story of Antony, a young football talent is a poignant example of such a rollercoaster ride. From growing up in the dangerous neighbourhood of ‘Little Hell’ to achieving his dream of playing for Manchester United.
Here’s a look at his early life.
Life in Sao Paulo
Antony hails from Favela ( Sao Paulo), a neighbourhood located in a major Brazilian city, was rife with poverty, drug dealers and crime. Antony’s family struggled to make ends meet.
Antony’s house was so small that he not only shared a room with his parents until he was a teenager – he shared a bed with them.
In an interview with The Players Tribune Tribune in 2022, he detailed his experience of living side-by-side with gangsters and drug dealers and growing up in dire poverty.
“If you really want to understand me as a person, then you must understand where I am from. My history. My roots,” he said. “It is an infamous place. Fifteen steps from our front door, there were always drug dealers doing their business, passing stuff hand-to-hand. The smell was constantly outside our window.”
His early years were defined by the struggle for survival and the desire to break free from the vicious cycle
Raised in the midst of drug-related violence, he, like many others, witnessed the devastating impact of gun violence on a daily basis. His family lived in constant fear as they navigated their way through the perilous streets.
”We were so used to seeing guns that it was not even scary. They were just a part of everyday life,” he told the tribune.
He also recalled coming across a dead body on his way to school as a child. “In the favela, you become kind of numb to these things,” he added. “There was no other way to go, and I had to get to school. So, I just closed my eyes and jumped over the dead body.”
Football a ‘Saviour‘
Antony’s escape from the horrors of his local area was the football matches he would play with his brother with the other residents of the favela. With no money for boots, he would play “barefoot, on bleeding feet”.
“I was small, but I dribbled with a meanness that came from God. Dribbling was always something inside me. It was a natural instinct. And I refused to bow my head to anyone,” he recalled.
“I would elastico the drug dealers. Rainbow the bus drivers. Nutmeg the thieves. With a ball at my feet, I had no fear.”
Joining Sao Paulo FC
The Brazilian was spotted by Sao Paulo at age 14 where he joined the team’s academy.
Antony’s time there was far from straightforward. He would turn up to training after school on an empty stomach as he could not afford to eat. “I was so skinny, but I always played with ‘blood in my eyes’. This is the kind of intensity that comes from the streets. You cannot fake it,” he recalled.
Antony also struggled with discipline, however. He revealed he had “some problems with my emotions” and was on the verge of being kicked out of the club on three occasions.
Recent Assault Allegations
While his football career has faced challenges, the allegations of assault have added another layer of complexity to his story.
The claims were first made by his ex-girlfriend and then accusations from two more women which has given United yet another situation to deal with just weeks after being fiercely criticised for their handling of the Mason Greenwood case.
These recent allegations threaten to derail the Brazilian’s career. His future at the club is in serious doubt after it was announced he is taking a period of absence to address allegations of assault made by multiple women.
The Brazilian international gave a television interview in Brazil on Friday to insist he is innocent of the allegations made against him. “I’m 100 per cent sure I’ve never touched a woman, and I’ll come up with the evidence. People will see the truth. I have never assaulted and I will never assault. I’m sure I’ve never committed physical violence,” he said.
As Antony strives to rebuild his career and reputation, his story serves as a reminder that life’s journey is not always a straight line to success. It’s a test of one’s resilience and character and Antony’s story is far from over.
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