It is a notorious location. There were usually drug traffickers operating within 15 steps from our front door, moving items from hand to hand. The smell was always there outside our window.
‘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***.’
“Man, some of the things I have seen… only those who have lived it can understand,” continued Antony. When I was around 8 or 9 years old, I came across a man lying in an alley on my morning route to school.
‘As I got closer, I saw that he was dead. In the favela, you start to lose interest in these things. I had to get to school, and there was no other option. So I simply hopped over the body while closing my eyes.
I spent three years moving from the shantytowns to Ajax and then Manchester United. People frequently ask about my ability to “turn the key” so quickly.
The reason, in all honesty, is that there is no pressure on a football field. Fear not. Fear? Define terror. You can’t be afraid of anything in football when you grow up having to jump over bodies to get to school.
After the game, United club icon Paul Scholes slammed the forward, asking, “Does it help anybody?” Does that benefit him in any way? Even with a 4-0 lead, I’d have to question him, “What does that mean for you?”
“This country, any country, even Brazil. Do they really not want to see that? Although I enjoy watching entertainment and skills, I don’t consider clowning to be either of those things.
Many might be demoralized by Scholes’ severe criticism, but Antony has not changed his position and believes that the critics “don’t comprehend my tale.”
You don’t know my story if you think I’m simply a clown, I said. I was inspired as a child by the art of Ronaldinho, Cristiano, and Neymar,’ Antony continued.
“I admired at these Gods while using stolen WiFi, and I then walked to the concrete field to try to emulate their brilliance.
“This is my story. I will just point to the tattoo on my arm if you still don’t get it or if you continue to think I’m a clown. Everyone who comes from the favela has some idea of what I’ve gone through.
The United winger most likely will play in Brazil’s World Cup opener against Serbia on next Thursday.