We arrived in São Paulo in early March. I had no nationality or documentation, simply my name.

We arrived in São Paulo in early March. I had no nationality or documentation, simply my name. However as a baby thankfully officials were lenient on me. I did not attend any school for the first 10 years of my life and I lived in the favelas with my uncle and aunt who owned a small butchery. I grew to think of my sister as my mother, as she taught, bathed and fed me. Every day of my life growing up, I would have to wash the blood out from the shop, dumping it in the clearing on the outskirts. I would always see other children playing football, and after my duties were done I would join them.

Football was life to me and I would play every day

Football was life to me and I would play every day. One day when I was 14, playing in the dirt with my friends as usual, a man came to watch us. We thought nothing of it, but after we were done fooling around he came up to us. He said that we played good and invited me to play at the Santos FC training ground. My friends and I were ecstatic. I ran home to my family and told them the news. I went the following Saturday to the club to play. There were many other boys there, and we played for the whole day. I did well, scoring goals and making good plays. The man came up to me and said he’d be delighted to offer me a job with the team. However, unfortunately due to my abnormal birth, I was not legally a citizen and could not play for the team. I was devastated.

 

I went back home in tears, and my family comforted me. I did not play football again; distraught I just worked at the butchery until one day a man came into the shop. It was the man from Santos, the man that asked me to play the first time and he had brought me a gift. It was the documentation to legalize me as a citizen and a contract to play. This is how I managed to gain my nationality, and realize my dream to play football for a living. I am always thankful to that man, and to my family. God was truly kind to me, and now I can repay him, by living a happy good life and playing for Santos.