By 90Min
August 04, 2018

Everton new boy Richarlison has claimed that the sport of football is his saviour as it kept him from going down a very dark path growing up in his native Brazil.

The winger joined the Toffees for an initial £35m deal that should rise to £50m with add-ons. He will be the club's most expensive player if it does come to that. However, according to the player, things could have turned out very differently had it not been for football.

The Brazilian only knew poverty as a youth, having lived in a slum in Espirito Santo, and managed to escape the rampant drug dealing and various other criminal activities by sticking close to his mother, whom he sold ice cream with, before finding comfort in football.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Globo, Richarlison revealed that he has several friends in prison while others have already died.

"I have said that many of my friends are in prison, some of them already dead," he said. "I had everything about me to go the same way.

"I remember walking in the street and they called me a tramp, a bandit. Thank God I did not become a bad guy like they used to.

James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

"I'm here in the Premier League and I help my family. That's what matters. I did not listen to these people who just want the bad. The majority of my friends went to sell drugs in 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 used to tell me, 'Don't be a little girl, come and smoke with us, come and sell with us, you can make much more money."

The player went on to explain that his father's faith in his ability as a footballer contributed to the success he's had in the sport and the realisation of his Premier League dream.

James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

"When I was seven my dad bought ten balls for me," he recalled. "Not because he could afford them but because he wanted me to be a good footballer.

"Most of my friends and I played on the street, make goals with our sandals. It was like a favela... a poor area.

"I used to watch the Premier League on my uncle's TV. I was in love with what I was seeing - the speed of the game and the way it never stopped. [I thought] 'I'm going to play there one day'."

The 21-year-old then went on to describe an event that nearly resulted in his death. Having unwittingly wandered onto a drug dealer's turf, the star forward had a gun pressed to his head and was given a stern warning never to return.

He said: "In that moment I was very afraid because he had pulled the trigger then it would have been over.

"The drug lord told us that if he found us again he would shoot us without any problem - me and my friends.

"After he lowered his gun, 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."

Julian Finney/GettyImages

The player, who joined Real Noroeste as a youth player in 2013, moved to America Mineiro a year later and quickly rose through the ranks to make his first-team debut in 2015.

He was signed by Fluminense in 2016, signing a five-year deal with the Brazilian top flight side before getting plucked by Watford last year. 


Richarlison is now looking ahead to his second season in the Premier League, having reunited with Marco Silva, the man who brought him to Vicarage Road.

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