COPA America- the South American men’s football championship- will kick off Friday in Brazil—the country known for producing one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
To football fans, he’s known as Ederson. He may be a star with riches now, but his roots are more modest.
CGTN’s Paulo Cabral visited the athlete’s former school and met the coach who discovered Ederson.
Marcos Vinicius is a young football talent. At nine-years-old, he’s already signed with the children’s league of Palmeiras, one of Brazil’s main football clubs.
But most of his training still happens here in this football school on the outskirts of Sao Paulo that also cultivated Brazil’s National Team goalkeeper Ederson Santana de Moraes- currently a star for the Premier League’s Manchester City.
Known as just ‘Ederson’ to fans, in 2017 he made headlines around the world when the English team paid about $45 million to have him- the highest amount ever paid for a goalkeeper at the time.
Gilberto Lopes founded the Ebenezer Football Club and School 23 years ago and he is proud of the kids who took the first steps with him on their way to professional football clubs.
“There are over 20 players in professional football clubs that began here, said Lopes. “Ederson is the best known but there’s also, for example, Derek who’s now playing in Portugal.”
The Ebenezer football school is in a poor area of Osasco on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. For many kids around here, there are limited options. So involvement in sports is a good strategy to avoid the risks of crime and drugs.
Ederson’s father said having the football school near the family’s home helped him keep his sons on a good path.
“You know what boys are like. It’s not good if they have much free time after school around here,” said Ederson’s father, Bartolomeu de Moraes. “That was a concern I had with my children. And the work they did here with them was great.”
It’s not easy to make a living as a professional athlete – let alone make it big like some sporting stars. But for the kids here following in the footsteps of the national team’s star goalkeeper helps propel their efforts – and keep their dreams alive.