Everybody needs to have an essence of progress and be adulated once in a lifetime at least. Achievement positively does not come that simple, it takes to strive hard to achieve a fair share of success. But, with all his adorableness and mesmerizing footwork, the Watford’ Playmaker has seen things, experiencing childhood in the rough avenues of Nova Venecia, in south-east Brazil, Richarlison needed to endure constant death threats and the temptation of drug trafficking.
With Four Premier League goals and two assists thus far, Watford’s Richarlison is having an electrifying debut season in England’s top flight and is already attracting the attention of Europe’s Big guns.
Richarlison who is now an integral part of Hornets Premier League transition reminisces a ghastly scene that almost cost him his life when he was just 14years of age.
In an interview with DailyMail ahead of Sunday clash with West Ham
‘In that moment I was very afraid,’
‘Because if they just pulled the trigger, then it was over. He told us that if he found us again he would shoot us without any problem — me and my friends.
I think they confused me with someone else. It was drug traffickers who thought I was stealing their drugs but I was just playing with my friends. I turned away and started to run. I never went back to that street. I didn’t say anything to him. I was very afraid.’
Experiencing childhood in the gangster-themed of Brazil has its perils and temptations, but Richarlison knows he has his parents, coaches and a large number of the residents to thank for watching out for him amid those years.
‘In that part of the city, there were drugs and weapons everywhere. But I used to sell ice cream from a cart and I used to clean cars on the street. I worked for the guy who had the shop. I would go out with his goods and I had to come back when it was dark. Whatever I sold, I took half.
‘The majority of my friends went to sell drugs on the street because they saw easy money; a lot of money. But I knew it was wrong so I sold chocolate and ice cream and washed cars because I knew that was the right thing to do. And I could help my mother.
‘My friends always used to tell me: “Oh come here, don’t be a little girl, come and smoke with us, come and sell with us, you can make much more money”. But the football coaches I had, they were working with the police and they always gave me suggestions of what to do, the correct things to do and what were not. And it was the same at home. So this is why I didn’t choose the criminal life.’
It is intriguing to take note of that until the point when he turned 17, the Brazilian international wasn’t signed on to any Club. However, all that changes when second division club America Mineiro, secure his services after a fruitful trial.
‘It was because I signed my official contract and I could buy my first official boots,’ he says. ‘Before I used to play with just whatever I found, one boot off one guy and one boot from another!
‘At 17, I also went to do a trial at Figueirense [then a top-flight Brazilian club] and they didn’t accept me. It’s extremely difficult as the game passes by, you’re older, it’s more difficult because they require players almost ready to play.
‘And when I went to try at Figueirense, they had 30 trials and they would take one from each trial. So it’s not easy. At America Mineiro, there were 15 trials and I managed to get in but still, it was very difficult. It’s extremely hard, especially in Brazil where everyone plays football. But I started with America Mineiro and I’m extremely happy because I had some great moments and that’s where my story started.’
In the summer of 2017, Eredivisie giants Ajax looked to have obtained the services of the Brazilian, until Portuguese manager Marco Silva made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: Watford was way to go.
‘With Ajax, everything was done, says Richarlison. ‘We just needed to sign the last papers. Then Marco called me and told me I could play in his tactics, in one of the three forward positions. He told me I was going to play and he knew all about my qualities and he wanted me. I didn’t think about it and I’m very glad I chose Watford.
‘He gave me a lot of confidence over the phone — and that is not easy for a manager to do. I appreciated that a lot and he convinced me I was going to be very happy here. He was extremely important, especially because he speaks Portuguese. Understanding what the manager wants and how I should play has been very important.’
The Brazilian ends by explaining that his active childhood and his father’s amateur football experience played a vital role in his athleticism and teamwork rate
‘I was always, always running,’ Richarlison stated.
‘I was running since I was small. And it is something I also learned from watching my father because he never gave up on the pitch and was looking to score the goal. This is something I want to do now as well and I’m going always to look for the goal and never give up until the last moment and if I can give the assist, I give the assist.
‘When my father played in the local team, I always used to go with him to watch him. He played as a striker. He was very good, he used to score a lot of goals. Once he scored seven goals in one game.
‘His dream was to become a professional footballer and in the end, he couldn’t make it. But thanks to God now I made it.’