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Man Utd ace Antony found dead body in street when he was 8 and ran rings around gangsters in brutal favela ‘little hell’

MANCHESTER UNITED forward Antony has opened up about his deeply traumatic childhood in the favelas of Brazil.

The 22-year-old joined the Red Devils from Ajax for £85.5million in the summer.

Antony had very little growing up in Brazil[/caption]
He grew up in a favela nicknamed “little hell”[/caption]
Antony has “no fear” on the pitch as a result of his tough upbringing[/caption]

But just a few years earlier at the age of 18, the Brazilian was still sharing a bed with his dad in Sao Paulo in an area nicknamed Inferninho — “little hell”.

His upbringing was surrounded by gangsters and drug dealers.

Football was Antony’s childhood escape from the dangerous environment he was exposed to, with the South American star revealing he learned how to perform tricks through watching the likes of Ronaldinho, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo.

But it is his description of the streets which demonstrates the difficulties of his childhood – namely seeing a dead body at just eight years of age.



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Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, he said: “On my walk to school one morning, when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, I came across a man laying in the alley. He was not moving. When I got closer, I realized he was dead.

“In the favela, you become kind of numb to these things. There was no other way to go, and I had to get to school. So I just closed my eyes and jumped over the dead body.

“I am not saying this to sound tough. It was just my reality. In fact, I always say that I was very lucky as a child, because despite all of our struggles, I was given a gift from heaven.

“The ball was my saviour. My love from the cradle. In Inferninho, we don’t care about toys for Christmas. Any ball that rolls is perfect to us.”


I would elastico the drug dealers. Rainbow the bus drivers. Nutmeg the thieves

The Players' Tribune

Antony’s family were so poor they could not afford to buy him shoes to play football in.

But that did not stop the talented youngster from continuing to try and pursue his dream.

He added: “Every day, my older brother would take me to the square to play football. In the favela, everyone plays. Kids, old men, teachers, construction workers, bus drivers, drug dealers, gangsters.

“There, everyone is equal. In my father’s time it was a dirt pitch. In my time, it was asphalt. In the beginning, I played barefoot, on bleeding feet. We did not have money for proper shoes.

“I was small, but I dribbled with a meanness that came from God. Dribbling was always something inside me. It was a natural instinct.

“And I refused to bow my head to anyone. 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 Brazilian has gone from living in the favelas to playing for Man Utd in three years[/caption]

Antony went on to explain how his upbringing has enabled him to silence pressure on the pitch.

He added: “I went from the slums to Ajax to Manchester United in three years. People always ask me how I was able to ‘turn the key’ so quickly. Honestly, it is because I feel no pressure on a football pitch. No fear.

“Fear? What is fear? When you grow up having to jump over dead bodies just to make it to school, you cannot be scared of anything in football.”

Antony is currently preparing for the World Cup in Qatar after securing his spot in Brazil‘s final 26-man squad.

Yet despite Tite’s men heading into the tournament as favourites, Antony insists his dream was never to win the World Cup – nor was it to claim the Ballon d’Or or Champions League.

He describes them merely as “goals”, but that his dream was to “take my parents out of the favela” or “die trying”.

Antony went from the favelas to Manchester United in the space of just three years.

And in the space of one year he went from heading back to the favelas after scoring for Sao Paulo in the 2019 Paulista final, to playing in the Champions League for Ajax.

During his time in Holland, he then bought his mother a red Range Rover – a car he had promised her as a young boy.

After purchasing the car, he turned to her and said: “You see? I told you that I would conquer. And I conquered”.

Elsewhere in the piece, the United winger also took the opportunity to hit back at Paul Scholes – who labelled him a “clown” last month after Antony showboated during their win over Sheriff Tiraspol.

But the ex-Ajax man responded by saying: “If you think I’m just a clown, then you don’t understand my story.

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“The art of Ronaldinho and Cristiano and Neymar inspired me as a child.

“I watched these Gods in amazement on stolen Wifi, then I went out to the concrete pitch to try to imitate their genius.”

Antony always dreamed of becoming a professional footballer[/caption]
He claims he used to run rings around gang members in his local area[/caption]
He is now one of the most exciting talents in football[/caption]

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