Rodrygo, the boy who slept between footballs, becomes a Real Madrid hero

Rodrygo, the boy who slept between footballs, becomes a Real Madrid hero

Real Madrid hero Rodrygo, 21, could easily be on the other side of the next Champions League final. In 2018, when Santos heard proposals from the precocious 17-year-old talent, his manager Nick Arcuri appeared with two interested parties.

“He could choose between Liverpool and Real Madrid,” club president José Carlos Peres said at the time.

The businessman consulted his family and, especially, the striker. Rodrygo didn’t think twice. He wanted to play for Real Madrid. He had in his mind the image of Cristiano Ronaldo, who that year would win the European tournament for the third consecutive time with the Spanish team (and against Liverpool).

Upon arriving in Madrid in the summer of 2019, he had Eden Hazard as a teammate. The Brazilian had the image of the Belgian striker as a screen saver on his cell phone.

Hazard is still a member of the Madrid squad. He is still at the club where he spent more time creating controversy and getting injured than playing football. Rodrygo made his name in history with two late goals to turn the score around in the second leg of the semi-final of the main club tournament in the world this Wednesday (4).

Manchester City won 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu. The Brazilian came off the bench during the second half and took the match into extra time. In the extra time, Benzema scored, from a penalty, the goal of the 3 to 1 and the classification for the decision of the Champions League.

On the 28th, Real will face Liverpool in Paris. The same English club that once wanted Rodrygo.
“There’s no explanation [a virada]. These are things that only happen at Real Madrid. This shirt helps us fight until the end,” he said after getting the unlikely spot.

He had told his father, Eric Batista, that he would score three goals, which was quite a promise for anyone who thought he wouldn’t start.

“One was missing,” he joked.

It’s a reference to the most influential person in your life. Eric was a right back with a passage through small clubs in the interior. For the 2012 Campeonato Paulista, when he was at Mirassol, he scored Neymar in a match against Santos. He is the person who accompanies him all of Rodrygo’s training and gives him advice.

“Sometimes I’m tired, I want to be at peace, but I know I need to listen to him”, said Rodrygo.

Born in Osasco, a city in Greater São Paulo, the Real Madrid star comes from a family of footballers. In addition to his father, his grandfather and uncles also acted. His mother, Denise, played amateurish.

At the age of 32, in 2016, Eric decided to abandon his career to take care of his son, then 15. He left the Cuiabá squad to bet on Rodrygo, who was already a revelation for Santos and would be professionalized the following year. When the boy was born, his parents were 17 years old.

His family is so attached to football that one of his childhood memories was sleeping between several balls at his home in Osasco.

When he arrived at Santos, at the age of ten, he began to stand out until he was seen with the bet that falls on all bets that appear at the club: the new lightning. Rodrygo began to establish himself in the first team at the age of 17, in 2018, in an off-season period for the club that lasts until today: the financial crisis prevented the formation of strong squads, and titles became scarce. He also spent a short time in Vila Belmiro.

That same year, he was traded with Real Madrid for the record amount (in Santos history) of 45 million euros (R$ 235 million in current values). Of this total, the association received R$ 188 million. Without that money, the board’s accounts would not have closed. Rodrygo earned more for Santos than Robinho’s sales, also for Real Madrid (30 million euros or R$157 million currently), in 2005; and Neymar for Barcelona in 2013 (17 million euros or R$89 million).

Despite being traded in 2018, he only joined the Spanish club in 2019. For Rodrygo, goals against Manchester City and an eventual European title could be the ticket to something even bigger.

“I’m working to be in the World Cup. When you’re doing well at Real Madrid, your chance to go to the Brazilian team helps a lot,” he said.

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