Manchester United star Antony is one of the most fashionable names at Old Trafford currently.
Antony arrived from Ajax to United in a mega-money deal after the player went on strike to force through a move. He has since endeared himself to fans who have been impressed with his skilful and thrillingly entertaining way of playing.
However, it has not always been easy for Antony, as he disclosed to The Players’ Tribune. Antony explained the tough and heartbreaking circumstances that fuelled his desire to become a footballer. These have propelled the player from playing for Sao Paulo just three years ago to becoming one of Manchester United’s most recognised faces.
Antony told the Players Tribune, “I was born in hell. That’s not a joke. For my European friends who don’t know, the favela where I grew up in São Paulo is called Inferninho — little hell. It is an infamous place. Fifteen steps from our front door, drug dealers were always doing their business.”
“We were so used to seeing guns that it was not even scary. They were just a part of everyday life. Man, some of the things I have seen. Only those who have lived it can understand. I am not saying this to sound tough. It was just my reality.”
Antony narrated an instance when he was eight or nine years old, and he found a stationary body on the ground. He afterwards realised that the man was dead!
He went on to tell how football was his saving grace in the favelas, where it was an equalising factor. Everyone played football, and it brought each member of the community together. He credits his father, who he was sleeping next to as recently as 2019 and his uncle, Toniolo, for spurring his passion for football.
So tricky were his circumstances that when he scored a goal in the 2019 Paulista final against Corinthians, he returned to his humble abode. People recognised him from the TV broadcast, but he just laughed at their ignorance of his situation.
Antony relayed to The Players Tribune, “I would elastico the drug dealers. Rainbow the bus drivers. Nutmeg the thieves. I really did not give a f***. With a ball at my feet, I had no fear.”
The 22-year-old confided how he promised his mother to buy her a red Range Rover after he spotted one in the favelas.
Antony fulfilled this promise during his Ajax days.
The Brazilian named three “football gods” on his heroes growing up: Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
He finished by responding to the criticism against him for his skills, led by United legend Paul Scholes and the media, who branded him a clown.
He reiterated that everything he does has a purpose and that his critics don’t understand his story.
Certainly, Antony is an inspiration to many that anything is possible with hard work and resilience in the face of challenges. He is a breathing reminder of this!