100 million euros, that’s the amount Man United have just paid for Antony, but many football fans barely have any idea of who he is. Is he the next Neymar or just another Ben Arfa? and how did a 21-year-old Brazilian find himself at Ajax? How Antony became the Youngest Brazilian to score on PL debut? Let’s find out…
Growing Up In Hell : Background
Antony’s hometown was hell on Earth, and I don’t mean that as a metaphor; the city he grew up in was literally called inferno … His parents weren’t the most miserable people in their neighborhood, and Antony was always kept off the streets, but he saw drug trafficking every day right across the street from his front door, and the police raids were at the very least traumatic.
Regardless of what he witnessed at a young age, he and his siblings never deviated… his aunt would bring him to every São Paulo match, always seating him among the ultras… He allegedly knew every song before he could even string two sentences together… Football was everything to him since birth; he wished to be on the other side of the fence, to be an idol for fans like him, to make the other Ultras proud.
After all, he’d already joined a futsal team at that age after a scout discovered him at a local pitch…. his upbringing, made him a real hard worker, while still managing to keep that edge, that Brazilian flair… So, at the age of 12, he got his big break… He went on trial, and his dream of wearing São Paulo’s colours came true, but the reality was that he wasn’t a prodigy, and no one was betting a dollar that he would become a big name, but there was potential… So he continued to play, and three years later, that was enough to persuade them to give him a room at their academy… Everyone loved Antony once he arrived; even the staff and his teammates became like brothers to him, It seemed like a miracle that he was kept on the team; it was only possible because the staff spoke with the coach and insisted he stay… And if it seemed like a miracle at the time, it was even more impressive when it happened again and again… Antony would have been out of the team on the first strike if it hadn’t been for the fact that everyone at the academy adored him.
His First Rejection
Regardless, soon after he began playing like never before, at 16-17, his growth became exponential, everyone was in awe, and by 18, he was called up to the first team alongside Helinho and Igor Gomes, two of his best academy friends… It seemed like a fairy tale to go through something like that with your friends. I guess it was like Cinderella at first, as wild as it appears. Despite his long tenure at the academy, Antony still lacked a good pair of boots, and his mother had to borrow them from a store where she worked every time he played… But, like Cinderella, the clock struck midnight just as the team was about to leave for pre-season in the United States, and the magic began to fade… Antony was not called up for the tour, was dropped from the team, and was returned to the under 20’s despite the fact that he was supposedly needed for this major tournament. He was in shock; it was nothing new to him, but it hurt, and it felt like rejection…
A Little Girl Saves His Career
Whatever the case, he put everything he had into that tournament, and something magical happened… Antony scored three goals in the first eight games. They were all man of the match performances, a very special fan fell in love with him… her name was Larissa, and she was a 10-year-old cancer patient. She was the motivation he needed to get back to the top after she wrote in her notebook that her greatest dream was to meet Antony.
Antony went to see her at some point during those eight matches. Her joy completely overtook him. She was hired as his sidekick. He was always looking for ways to make her happy. He waited for her to walk onto the pitch alongside him on the day of the final. Even better, he had persuaded the entire squad to shave their heads in support of her. He not only scored and assisted to win the championship, but he also performed his famous L celebration for the first time, in reference to her name. He was the tournament winner. He’d finally played with the ultras watching over him, and he’d made a lifelong friend. Aside from that, he was immediately returned to the main team… He saw this as a last chance scenario and gave it everything he had, even that last bit he didn’t even know he had, and with So Paulo struggling massively in the Paulista Championship, he saw this as a last chance scenario.
“It will only get better once we’re crowned champions,” Antony said during the championship match against Corinthians.
Becoming A Wonderkid, Meeting Ten Hag
Soon after, he was called up to the Brazilian Under 23 team, joining them for the old Toulon Tournament, where he scored two goals, one of which was the game-winning penalty kick… He appeared to have a talent for big moments, which earned him a permanent spot on the Brazilian Olympic team…
But, for Ajax, this was still a big gamble; who knows what could have happened, he was clearly not very consistent, he had only just turned 20 years old, he had not won a single trophy, and everything could be very different in Europe… In fact, things weren’t going so well with the Olympic team; the coaching staff had grown tired of Antony’s tendency to cut back instead of attacking the space, which meant he was dropped for the final match of the qualification against Argentina.
100 Million Dollar Man
It wasn’t looking good, but Ajax coach Ten Hag seemed confident in his new signing, saying, “We hope he will be the next star of Ajax,” Ten Hag seemed to have immediately smoothed out many of Antony’s rough edges with a couple of words and maybe a couple of screams in his first 21 matches, 9 goals, 8 assists… As he began his second season at Ajax, he had two goals in mind: to improve his consistency and to perform on the international stage… This earned him his first call-up to the Brazilian national team, prompting manager Tite to declare that he was “just like Neymar” after scoring on his debut despite only playing 13 minutes.
With Ten Hag’s move to United, it became increasingly clear that this would be Antony’s preferred destination. Ajax refused to negotiate, However, even as the talks began, with two transfer bids being rejected, one of up to 100 million euros, which would easily make him the league’s most expensive player.
He became the Youngest Brazilian to score on PL debut
As difficult as it may have been for Ajax, the player was released for 100 million euros, making him the 13th most expensive player in football history and Man United’s second most expensive signing of all time. Ten Hag and Antony are back in the Premier League together. It’s still a big gamble with players like Sancho, Casemiro, Varane, and Ronaldo alongside them, as well as familiar faces like Malacia and Lisandro Martinez. He could be the next Neymar or just another Ben Arfa, but either way, a fantastic show is in the works. In the match against Arsenal, Antony was thrown right into the starting lineup and scored his first goal and He became the Youngest Brazilian to score on PL debut.