Author: Ninger

wch gil

Although he is now an indispensable part of Arsenal’s midfield makeup, and was a key member of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup squad, it nearly never happened for Gilberto Silva. As a youngster with local club America-MG, his father retired from his job, leaving the 17-year-old as the sole provider for his whole family. Gilberto was forced to quit the game, beginning work in a sweet factory for around 50 a month.

Eventually he was persuaded to return to the sport, rejoining America in 1996. Playing mostly as a centre-back, he helped his club to promotion to Serie A in his first full season. Even when he transferred to Atletico Mineiro, one of the region’s giants, he broke his leg and missed a lot of football. It wasn’t until the relatively late age of 24 when he switched to a defensive midfield role that his career really took off.

From this point on his fame rocketed. By November 2001 he was an international, playing his first game against Bolivia. Expected to play only a bit-part role in the following summer’s World Cup, Emerson’s unfortunate injury led to Gilberto playing in every match of Brazil’s march to their fifth crown. He was described as the man who carried the piano for Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo to play their tunes on.

What a vital role his was, and it fully earned him the nickname the invisible wall  the man who is rarely noticed on the pitch but whose work is indispensable. After the tournament he was a hot property, wanted by clubs all over Europe. Arsenal eventually won the race to sign him, and his quiet displays alongside Patrick Vieira winning him a lot of praise, as well as the quickest goal in the history of the Champions League against PSV.

His second season with the Gunners was a roaring success, the London side going through the entire 38-match league season unbeaten. Gilberto played 32 of those games, and scored 4 goals. Although his 2004/5 season was hampered by injuries, he was back in fine form this season, helping Arsenal reach the Champions League final as well as adding to his total of international caps during Brazil’s qualification run for Germany 2006. Brazilian fans can rest assured that even if Emerson is unavailable, the invisible wall will be there to silently protect his defence.

Askalex 2003


26 January: What happened to Josimar from Mexico 86?

19 January: Congratulations on the site and the book. How successful has the book been in the UK? Did you have it translated into Portuguese?

12 January: I really like the way you describe Garrincha in your book and at last, I finally know a little bit about him. I have heard his name (the bent legs) before, but have found it very difficult to get any information on him. It sounds like he was a terrific player. It?s understandable how the Brazilian fans love him (Maybe a little bit like the emotion people get when they here the name George Best?). I forget just how big an influence Pele was at that time (and sounds like he still is). This is a hard thing to imagine but do you think Garrincha?s career might have been different if the Pele phenomenon had never happened?

05 January: Just finished your book, Ricardo Teixeira seems like a real character. Is he still running the CBF? (I hope not). Even the suggestion that Pele may be involved in some form corruption breaks my heart. I’m based in the US; the Enron, Arthur Andersen events are still a regular fixture in the media. Maybe it’s the timing?, but I am only just becoming aware of just how much corruption and poor club management exists in world football.


26 February: My name is Roger Clinton. I represent Sheffield FC – THE OLDEST FOOTBALL CLUB IN THE WORLD. We are only a small club here in England but are very keen to make contacts worldwide. What would be the best way to speak to the oldest club in Brazil?

25 February: Don’t know if you’ve ever met Kleberson? Why hasn’t he already been sold to a European club? What’s he been doing since the World Cup?

09 February: I am an Internacional (Porto Alegre) fan here in UK, we were nearly relegated this season. What teams are being promoted and what are the changes to next years club calender as I understand every team plays each other twice in the N.C.

02 February: I would like to know more about the Manaus Football tournament ‘the Big Kickabout’ (O Peladao). Where can I get info? When will it be the next time? Any websites or mail addresses available?


30 March: I am very keen to know who are the future stars of Brazilian football. I am aware of players like Robhino, Kaka and Diego but do you think there are others out there that have just as much promise?

30 March: re the Pele film mentioned in your interview with him. You say that unusual archive material has been found: do you know if this includes the Gol da Placa? I heard that film of Pele’s greatest goal was destroyed by fire many years ago. Have you seen it or spoken to anyone who has (apparently, it was used in a famous coffee commercial for a while).

22 March: As I read the brazilian papers on the web, there is one thing that appears rather strange. What is actually happening to the police investigations that(supposedly) follow the two CPIs? Brazilian papers say that the Ministerio Publico is investigating the cases, but there is never any information about how far these investigations have gone, or if any of the cases are brought to court. My questions are two-fold: 1. Are there any news of the post-CPI investigations performed by the police/MP? 2. Do you honestly think that any person criminalized by the CPI report will ever be punished?

15 March: What club did Gilberto Silva play for before he signed for Arsenal? I recently went to Brazil and although he is much loved, I got conflicting answers as to who he played for.

10 March: we went travelling around South America and used your book so by the time we reached our ultimate destination, Brazil, we could chat to people about the beautiful game and whether Garrincha was better than Pele (from the people we spoke to the answer still seemed to be Pele which was disappointed us as Garrincha sounds much cooler). Anyway on our trips to the Maracana we noticed the Flamengo fans fly Union Jacks with ‘Jovem’ written on them, we couldn’t find out what this was about could you help. Oh and can you tell Amin that Vasco suck.

10 March: Are you planning on adding a new chapter to the book covering the 2002 Japan Korea World cup? Even with the poignancy of focussing on Teixeira and the CBF, I feel it would be a fitting end to a fantastic book making it the ‘definitive’ book about Brazilian futebol.

04 March: Alex, what happened with the Gavioes da Fiel? I see they have a current website.

01 March: I enjoyed your book. I have a question about the story on pages 199-201 of the dog called Biriba that peed on one of the Botafogo player’s legs. Botafogo won the match and, thereafter, Botafogo’s president “demanded that before each match Biriba should pee on the same leg.” Botafogo subsequently won the 1948 state chamoionship. Question: how did Botafogo get the dog to pee on the player’s leg before every game?


30 April: Why was Eder left out of the Brazil 1986 World Cup team?

29 April: From where comes the name of the Copa Libertadores?

13 April: Which team in Brazil do you support? Did researching the book change any of your perceptions about certain clubs or fans?

06 April: Just reading your brilliant book, thank you for such a fascinating glimpse of Brazil. It really reflects what Simon Kuper wrote about football being one of the best ways to understand the daily life of a country. I have two enquiries. Firstly about Socrates – I have often heard the urban legend that he was a medical student here in Ireland. I’ve heard two versions of the story – in one he was studying for a time in the Royal College of Surgeons, asked one day if there was any football around and was sent out to play with Bohemians reserves. The other has him in my own alma mater University College Dublin and winning the Collingwood Cup, an inter collegiate football tournament while here. I would be very grateful if you could tell me if there is any truth to either story. Secondly, a common story here in Ireland is that Pele’s nickname derives from “peile”, the Gaelic for football (more usually the Gaelic version), which Irish nuns gave the young Edson. I know in the book you write that the origin of Pele is unknown, and I recall Pele in interviews saying he didn’t know himself, but just another theory you mightn’t have heard before. Finally, its only polite to tell you that I write occasional articles for the Irish medical press, I was thinking of maybe pitching a brief one about your book focusing on the Socrates angle.


26 May: I read your book and I thought it was superb. I am soon coming to Brazil to work in a rainforest preservation centre some 200 miles North-west of Rio. I just wondered if there was one particular football related thing that I should do or see while I’m in Brazil, besides the obvious? Also is Ronaldo’s R9 club in Leblon still open? Secondly is it worth going to?

19 May: We are all so used to Brazilians playing futebol in Europe but are there any Europeans playing in Brazil?? I have heard of Peruvian and Argentinean players playing there, but never Europeans? And how do the Brazilians view the foreigners playing in Brazil? are they protective like the European supporters initially were?

10 May: I first read your book last summer (2002) and found it fascinating and informative. I picked it up again the other day and as I flicked through I wondered what ever became of Messias Pereira, Marcelo Marcolino and Marlon Jorge. Are they still playing in the Faroes? Are any of them eligible to play for their adopted country (I seem to recall Marcelo saying he would like to)? And what of Robson? Has he resumed his football career?

04 May: Can you tell us some more about Hibs visit to Brazil in the 1950s. That trip introduced Hibs’ great forward line of the Famous Five to Brazilian clubs and led them to form teams with five attackers. I know Hibs were instrumental in creating the conditions for sides like Botafogo to put Garrincha, Didi, Zagalo, Quarentina and Paulo Valentim up front but anything more you can tell us about Hibs’ influence in making Brazil great would be welcomed.


29 June: After resignation in 1970 I have not hear a word about Joao Saldania? What he was doing? Is he alive? Where can I see his photo online?

22 June: The football club Vasco da Gama have the cross Patee as their club symbol. What is the history/reason behind their use of this symbol? Although there is info on the web about the cross patee and it’s origins i can find nothing (in English) about it’s link to the football club Vasco da Gama. Also, it would be helpful if you could explain the 6 stars often seen above the Vasco da Gama cross patee. One explanantion i have come across is that they represent the championship won in 1945 and the five since but it is unclear to me what championship is being referred to as i believe they have won the Brazilian championship only 4 times and the state championship 21 (not 6) times.

16 June: Could you tell me what happened to tour namesake alex who captained the olympic team in sydney?

08 June: Could you tell me which Garrinchas leg was shorter and how did that affect on his dribbling skills?

08 June: I will be traveling to Rio this August and would love to go to the Maracana stadium to see an exciting football match with my family. Does the stadium have a web site? where can i find the schedules and book tickets in advance?

01 June: What happened to Renata Alves after her involvement in the scandals regarding former national coach Luxemburgo ?? One would suspect that she now has her own talk-show and is a major figure in Brazilian public life….


27 July: I am a norwegian author writing a novel about a student. In a chapter he is wacthing a football match, which leads him into thoughts about this game. He then comments upon “the beautiful game”, the brazilian way of playing it (at least once), as Pele, and I qoute, “Football? It’s the beautiful game” said the Brazilian footballer, Pele ( quotations/quotefrom/football/), called it. However, I do not want the English translation, but the portugese/brazilian original for: the beautifull game. Hope you can help.

27 July: Having looked at your fixture list I see I’m in Rio when Vasco are playing at home (an evening game). Do you know if I can just pick up a ticket on the gate (I’m so used to English Premiership ticket only matches!).

21 July: Who was the first brazilian player to play in a foreign club?

13 July: Do you know what type of bird the Flamengo mascot is meant to be and whether there is any significance in its choice?

06 July: I heard that by the end of his career Garrincha played for Flamengo. How successful was he there? And one more: How successful was Garrincha- Joao Saldanha cooperation in Botafogo? Did he ever played for other teams too? – I heard he continued playing till 1982, is that true?


30 August: Why is there five stars on the flamengo top. And why is one of the stars gold and the other four white.

17 August: We will be in Rio for Carnaval ’04 and would like to catch a game at Maracana. This looks like it’s off-season would there be any pre-season game in Maracan in February (between the 15th and 25th)?

17 August: Some of the images used in your brilliant book are outstanding. Could you tell me where you got the image of Socrates with a packed stadium behind him? I’d love to get a copy of it.

10 August: What is the home city of the Brazilian national team?

02 August: The book is excellent. A friend and I have rented an apartment in Botafogo next Jan And Feb 2004 ( we live in New York City )My stupid question is what are the dates of the Brazilian soccer season.


21 September: What is the latest news on the greatest Brazilian forward in the last twenty years,” ROMARIO DE SOUZA FARIA”?

14 September: Alex – I am reading your excellent book on God’s own futebol country!! Do you have any other projects planned insofar as they relate to futebol brasileiro please?

06 September: I see on that you have written a book on Garrincha. Can you tell me about it?


19 October: I would like to know what `KAKA` means in Brazil. I am a fan of AC Milan, and KAKA. In Italy, CACCA means,,,,,,,,,,,,,,coco(in Brazil). This nickname has special meaning in Brazil? Is it Bird name?

12 October: I see you are talking at a conference in London. It looks really interesting but my mate thinks its 40 quid to get in. Can this be true? And if it is, can you get us in free?


22 November: Alex can you tell us anything about Charles Miller life in Brazil and when did he die, does he have family live in Brazil today and have any of his comment on Brazilian Football.

16 November: I would like to know more about the Ibis club from Recife. Whilst in Brazil I was regularly told that they were ‘the worst team in the world’. What have they done to deserve such a harsh judgment???

09 November: Are there any football matches at the maracana stadium in January 2004? How long does the football season last until in Brazil?

01 November: Who is the highest goal scorer for Fluminense?


28 December: Have Brazil ever capped a player born in another country?

26 December: Who is the leading goal scorer in the league now? What has happened to Alex of Palmeiras he showed a lot of promise but he no longer features for Brazil? What is the mail address of the Fortaleza football club?

14 December: Who was the first black player to play for Vasco da Gama?

07 December: I am writing an article about the CBF Nike. I have used your book as a source although my main source is the book by Aldo Rebelo and Silvio Torres. I lived in Belo Horizonte last year and interviewed some respected journalists but I was just wondering if you could recommend any other books or websites where I could find relevant and up to date information.

01 December: What is Autoball?

01 December: Is Gomes the goalie for the Brazilian national team?


After a year an a half at Arsenal, Gilberto Silva now feels at home. You can see it in the way he cooly patrols the central midfield, like a loping lion, securing the area from danger and when needed powering forward with Latin athleticism. And you can see it the way he saunters around the Bell Lane training ground, easy-going, comfortable and with simple friendliness.

The Brazilian may not have the profile of his other teammates, yet he has established a crucial role in the Arsenal team. Many South Americans take years to adapt to Europe; often they never do. But Gilberto has been consistent and is growing in confidence each game. Half way through this season, he already has four goals to his name, more than he scored in his entire first year. I’m a lot more mature in football terms than I was when I first arrived, he says. “I’ve learnt a lot of stuff here. I had to modify some things, improve some things. I think this season will be much better for me.”

Gilberto is a defensive pillar of the Arsenal midfield, discreet yet effective. In person too he is the model of politeness. Unlike the clich’ of the exuberant, mouthy Brazilian, Gilberto is conscientious, well-spoken and humble. He listens to questions patiently and replies diplomatically.
Beneath the shy exterior it’s easy to forget that he has a World Cup winner’s medal on his mantelpiece.

As we sit back and chat on one of Bell Lane’s sofas, Gilberto tells me that his perspective on Premiership football is more considered after a season and a half. “English football doesn’t have the patience that Brazilian football has, to be able to work the ball more, to kick the ball from one
side to the other, waiting for the right moment to make the move. Here it’s a different culture, you’ve got to be going for a goal at every moment, as soon as you get it you go for it, it means you are obliged to run a lot more on the pitch. Either you have the ball or you have to be running after the other team to get the ball back. Brazilian football, we have a much more calm culture, working the ball more until the right moment.”

We talk about his glorious Arsenal debut, when he scored the winner in the 2002 Charity Shield against Liverpool. But Gilberto says it took a while to adapt to this more physical style. “I had some initial difficulties, but I managed to overcome them quickly. I had to play in a way that uses my strength more.” His size and fitness and his seeming imperviousness to injury have also played their part.

“I’m happy because I’ve already scored more goals than last season. But obviously I want to always be improving. If I could score more goals, I’d be happy with that, but the important thing is to achieve our objectives which is to win competitions.”

Outside of football, Gilberto is also opening up and enjoying England more. “I’m keen to learn, to get to know some places in the country, to really get into English culture. I’m always learning, speaking to English people.” He says that people are always fascinated to find out about Brazil. “It’s an exchange of information and cultures. I think this is very important for me.”

Usually Brazilians first complaint when they move to Europe is the diet they miss their rice and beans. Has Gilberto finally adapted to English food? He laughs embarrassedly. “In reality I hardly ever eat any. Only in the hotels or here at the Arsenal training ground sometimes. At home I eat Brazilian food, there’s my sister who cooks for me.”

He says that it’s possible to get Brazilian food here. “We’ve discovered everything! There are Brazilian markets where you can find black beans, red beans also gradually you start discovering things. There are quite a few Brazilians in London, its cool.”

Gilberto lives near St Albans with his sister and he has been joined by his mother and father for Christmas. Does he ever find the time to go out?
“Because I have a busy life with football I don’t have that much free time, but when I do we like to go out to listen to some Brazilian music. ”

There is a hidden scene of Brazilian musicians in London, it seems, occasionally frequented by a World Cup champion. “If you look, you can find it! My mandolin teacher plays in a pub where I like to go with my sister. He plays with others on guitar, double bass, drums; it’s a mix of Brazilian music with jazz, something really nice.”

When he’s not training or learning English he is practicing his mandolin. All three are improving. “I can just about manage one or two things on the
mandolin. Very slowly, but just about ok.”

Ronaldinho, I ask if he is ready to take of the role of ” who organizes samba singalongs behind the scenes at Brazil games. “He’s the leader, right! The captain of samba,” Gilberto replies. “But I’m not there yet. I only started lessons at the beginning of the year. It’s only now that I’m getting better, because you need to practice the whole time.”

Another pastime that Gilberto is involved with is the Street League, a charity that uses football to help homeless people. This year he invited 17 homeless to his home town of Lagoa da Prata. “I’m a kind of patron of the project. Its cool seeing those people, they don’t have any hope of achieving anything better than what they have in life. You are there for one minute, or five or ten, or however long it is, you have the chance to be with these young guys and you see the pleasure that they have in being there. You see their eyes light up. You start to see from this that they start to have hope for the future.”In fact, only when talking about the Street League do Gilberto’s eyes really light up too. “This, for me, is priceless. I’m really happy to be spending time with them. When we went to Brazil it was a marvelous experience for them, it was something they will never forget. I’m happy to be involved, putting a smile on the faces of each person there.”

He adds that he is indirectly involved in other charity work . I try to get involved, especially in my home town, which is a small town, to be there
helping the poorer communities, but I am very discreet. I like to help, but discreetly. I don’t like making too much noise.”

After spending summer in Brazil, Gilberto has already been back twice this season. He is not just an integral part of Arsenal, but also of his national
side. This season he has already played four competitive games for his country as Brazil embarked on the long road to qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The South American qualifiers have two novelties this time First, the ten-country, 18-game group is being spread over two and a half years, a year longer than previously, and secondly, the title-holders are exempt from automatic qualification.

“I think it’s absurd that they changed the rules that the champion needs to go through the qualifiers,” he reacts. “To change something that has been the same since the beginning, I don’t think makes sense. But it was a decision and it was accepted, so us players have to do our best. Obviously it is really tiring making the trip. You have to fly for 11 hours, and then you sometimes need to travel another 2 or three or four hours, and then come back again here. But I guess that’s the deal of being part of a top club and also part of the your national team.”

The trip is, in fact, much tougher than Gilberto makes it sound. The first time he went back, in September, it was a round trip of almost 20,000 miles, which is about three quarters of the circumference of the world. He flew to Sao Paulo, then Rio de Janeiro, where the national team training centre is located. The squad then chartered a flight to Barranquilla in Colombia for
their first game, then returned to Brazil to play Equador in the jungle city of Manaus. There are no direct flights from Manaus to Europe so he had to
travel back to Sao Paulo before returning over the Atlantic. Total airborne travel time in 10 days: 36 hours.

In order to lessen the number of times South America’s leading players need to travel home, the continent’s football confederation organizes two games per trip. After the first double-header, Brazil were top of the group with two wins out of two – 2-1 against Colombia and 1-0 against Equador.

But in November when the team went back the wind was taken out of their sails. The world cup winners, with a team barely changed from the 2002 final, drew 1-1 with both Peru in Lima and 3-3 against Uruguay in the southern Brazilian city Curitiba almost had a shock. At 2-2 Gilberto caused a bizarre own goal. He rose to stop the ball, but blocked the view of keeper Dida, and headed the ball by accident into his net. Luckily Ronaldo scored with three minutes to go, sparing Gilberto the reputation as the man who let Uruguay win.

Now Brazil are only third behind surprise leaders Paraguay and perennial rivals Argentina. The top four go through and the fifth wins a play-off
against the winners of Oceania. Even though the team hasn’t yet lost again, the fans are frustrated and there is a worry again that qualification will be a rocky path just like last time.

“What we talk about within the team is that we must try and avoid happening what has happened before the last two times we qualified. Both those times we only qualified on the last game. But we also know it’s difficult. We have to play against big teams, big players, most of the players in the other teams play in Europe, and so we know it will be difficult until the end. We just hope that this qualifying group could be different to the previous
two. “Gilberto adds that so long as you qualify it doesn’t matter how tormented the campaign is. If we do have the same difficulties that we had in the past and only qualify in the last game, and then we are champions again then it will have been worthwhile.”

Even though he is only 27, Gilberto is now a ‘veteran in the Brazilian side. “I’m getting old!” he laughs. What does he make of the younger players?

“Brazilian football has something special. Great new players appear all the time,” he says. “One year you have a good crop and the straight away there’s another good crop right behind. Brazil is privileged in this way, compared to other countries. Some of the new lads are getting call ups obviously Kak”, who was in the squad last World Cup, but also Diego, Robinho, Elano, these players are already doing well. You could even change every player in the national team for a new one and you would still have an
excellent national team.

For a while at the beginning of the season it was rumoured that Diego, the Santos creative midfielder, was about to sign to Tottenham. The deal fell through at the last moment. How would he have felt having a Brazilian in the wrong north London side? ‘Obviously, if it were possible, I would prefer it for him to come here! Playing here, because here we have a great group, great quality, and I feel like it’s a big family, but I also know that Brazilian football is going through big financial problems, so if the only thing he could get was for the rival team I would understand it.’ He adds: Kleberson plays for another rival, but the friendship is still there.’

Of his colleagues in the national side Gilberto has most affinity with Kleberson, who moved to Manchester Utd this season. Both players got the
national call up at the same time, both played at provincial Brazilian teams and both were unexpected first choices when the World Cup began. Their positions are next to each other with Kleberson slightly more forward than Gilberto.

‘We talk to each other quite regularly on the phone. There’s not that much opportunities for us to meet because he’s playing, I am too, we’re always traveling. But we are in touch, I think it’s important.

Is he in touch with the other Premiership Brazilians Juninho at Middlesborough, Roque Junior at Leeds, Jardel at Bolton; With Juninho,
quite a bit less, With Roque I’ve already spoken to him. We traveled together coming back from Brazil after the qualifiers. But I’m much closer to Kleberson.

As well as the style of football, Gilberto has also got used to British fans. Highbury is different from the Mineir’o, Atletico’s home stadium in Belo Horizonte. I feel a great contrast. Atletico has some of the best fans in Brazil, in terms of cheering you on. We lived a great moment, getting to the quarter finals of the Brazilian championship. The fans were there all the time, the stadium was pretty full. The fans never stopped for a second singing the club song, shouting out the names of the players all the time, and at times it felt like the fans were playing along side us. Here, sometimes we feel this, but there is a difference, sometimes they are quieter, they sing and then sometimes stop, whereas in Brazil if your team is doing well you sing from the beginning of the match until the last minute.

I ask if he feels that Arsenal’s fans expect him to be more Brazilians, showing off fancy skills. If the fans are hoping that I will do what Denilson does, or what Ronaldinho does, to dribble effortlessly, then unfortunately they will be let down because that isn’t the type of player that I am. I am a player that marks. My job is to give support to the two midfielders, who play slightly infront of me, and to help out the defenders.
This is what I try to do. I think the fans respect me for what I have done at Arsenal in such a short amount of time. I feel very at home here, very comfortable here, I have a special affection for this club, because they have given me the opportunity to carry on doing what I was before. The club and the fans received me very well.

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New Kerlon

  • Kerlon
  • CLUB: Cruzeiro
  • POSITION: Attacking Midfield or Forward
  • FULL NAME: Kerlon Moura Souza
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 27 January 1988
  • PLACE OF BIRTH: Ipatinga (MG)


Roberto Rivelino did it. Johan Cruyff did it. Diego Maradona did it. That ‘it’ is, of course, invented or pioneered an outrageous piece of trickery. But now there’s a new kid on the block, who has added himself to this celebrated list.

His name is Kerlon, and he is the latest in a long line of incredibly gifted Brazilians, to stun the world of football with a magical piece of skill. His party piece – the aptly named ‘seal dribble’ – is, perhaps, even more flamboyant than those distinguished moves trademarked by the aforementioned legends.

Swiftly flicking the ball up from the turf onto his head, Kerlon then proceeds to glide past opponents, whilst bouncing the ball on top of his forehead. The speed, at which he travels when doing this, is mind-blowing, and the delicacy with which Kerlon connects with the ball, means that it stays remarkably close to his head as he advances forward.

Couple this with his unique ability to change direction as he runs with the ball above his nut, evading bewildered opponents, and it’s easy to tell why stopping him is nigh-on impossible. In fact, disillusioned opponents’ only response to the seal dribble has been, to resort to fouling its young exponent.

Kerlon’s piece of skill came to the fore, during the recent South American under-17 Championships in Venezuela – a competition in which he won both the top goalscorer and best player awards – creating a media frenzy in the process.

But it was years ago, that the unlikely trick was invented. The emerging teenager was enjoying an impromptu kickabout with his father Silvino, when his instant control and subsequent ability to keep the ball aloft using only his head, prompted his impressed old man, to encourage the development of a dribble using only his head to touch the ball.

Before long, Kerlon had astounded Silvino by perfecting this move, whilst running at pace and changing direction. And so it was. From then on, Kerlon began to use the seal dribble, with success, during training sessions at Ipatinga – the club he was then associated with.

Although established as his trademark, the player always intended to save use of the dazzling invention, until he made the breakthrough at professional level. However, he was unable to refrain from exhibiting his innovation during the youth event in Venezuela. “I couldn’t wait,” he conceded with a smile.

“It’s just a skill I have, though it’s not meant to be a mark of disrespect for my opponents.

The trick is beautiful and efficient. Sooner or later, defenders will find a way to stop me without conceding a free-kick. But until then, I can keep using the play to my advantage.

“Opponents say they will snap me. But this doesn’t scare me it just motivates me even more.”

But the seal dribble is not the sole reason why Kerlon is being tipped to go on to great things – one doesn’t inherit the number 10 shirt for Brazil, at any level, unless you’re a fine player.

Able to operate in an advanced midfield position, or as a forward, the 17-year-old is an expert dribbler and possesses wonderful ability to slip weighted passes in behind defences.

He is also a free-kick expert, and given the amount of fouls the seal dribble draws, this trait is made all the more beneficial.

Kerlon’s next objective is to convince Cruzeiro coach Levir Culpi, that he is ready to make the progression into the Raposa first team;

“This South American Championships came to change my life, my destiny. I am more mature and I want to be used in the Brazilian Championship. I’m just waiting for the call from Levir.”