Brazil soccer star Neymar

World-class soccer player Neymar leads the Brazil team at the Olympics.

Big Match Focus - Neymar moves from Clasico to Classique

Here's all you need to know about Le Classique this week, as PSG take on Marseille in Ligue 1.

Big Match Focus - Neymar moves from Clasico to Classique

Here's all you need to know about Le Classique this week, as PSG take on Marseille in Ligue 1.

Big Match Focus - Neymar moves from Clasico to Classique

Here's all you need to know about Le Classique this week, as PSG take on Marseille in Ligue 1.

Kobe Bryant Brings ‘Mamba Mentality’ to PSG

Retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant took in PSG training, met Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and got an up-close look at one of Europe’s top teams.

Kobe Bryant Brings ‘Mamba Mentality’ to PSG

Retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant took in PSG training, met Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and got an up-close look at one of Europe’s top teams.

Kobe Bryant Brings ‘Mamba Mentality’ to PSG

Retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant took in PSG training, met Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and got an up-close look at one of Europe’s top teams.

Kobe Bryant Brings ‘Mamba Mentality’ to PSG

Retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant took in PSG training, met Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and got an up-close look at one of Europe’s top teams.

Neymar fined £900,000 for tax evasion in Brazil

The superstar PSG attacker has been hit with a large fine in his homeland and was slammed by a judge for trying to obstruct justice

Neymar fined £900,000 for tax evasion in Brazil

The superstar PSG attacker has been hit with a large fine in his homeland and was slammed by a judge for trying to obstruct justice

Emery: Neymar needs time to become PSG's Messi

Amid constant comparisons with his former Barcelona team-mate, the Brazilian's coach insists he still needs to adapt to his new club

Emery: Neymar needs time to become PSG's Messi

Amid constant comparisons with his former Barcelona team-mate, the Brazilian's coach insists he still needs to adapt to his new club

Emery: Neymar needs time to become PSG's Messi

Unai Emery wants Neymar to be his own man and continue to improve as he is touted as Paris Saint-Germain's answer to Lionel Messi.

We've not seen the best of Neymar at PSG - Emery

PSG boss Unai Emery says Neymar's talents are yet to be fully unleashed upon Ligue 1.

We've not seen the best of Neymar at PSG - Emery

PSG boss Unai Emery says Neymar's talents are yet to be fully unleashed upon Ligue 1.

We've not seen the best of Neymar at PSG - Emery

PSG boss Unai Emery says Neymar's talents are yet to be fully unleashed upon Ligue 1.

Harry Kane is England's most talented footballer, but is not world class yet

It is often said in football the word ‘legend’ is applied too loosely. The same must be said of the phrase ‘world class’.  Too many players are given this tag, but we should pause before handing out such lavish compliments. That is why I do not agree with those arguing Harry Kane is a world-class footballer. He isn’t. Not yet. My criteria for world class status are stricter than excelling in the Premier League, no matter how long Kane terrorises defences domestically. World class players are those who deliver in the post-Christmas stage of the Champions League, shining in the quarter-finals and beyond. World class players are those who deliver at major international tournaments. By the end of this season Kane might tick both boxes. He has the credentials, but until such time becoming English football’s most talented footballer is not enough. There was a comment by Pep Guardiola when asked about Kevin De Bruyne’s superb start to the season. I loved it. “If you want Kevin to be considered one of the best he has to win titles,” said Guardiola. In that sentence Pep encapsulated my argument. De Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League at this moment. But one of the greatest managers of all time is telling him how much farther he has to go. The same applies to Kane. I agree he is one of the finest strikers in the world, but it's not solely about being one of the best of your generation. The stage on which you consistently apply that talent also matters.  If selecting a world XI, would Kane join Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo in the line-up? No. Not at this moment. Kane’s form compares favourably with his goalscoring peers, but his task is to go beyond them. Harry Kane goals in Champs League 02/10 The record of the most prolific in this calendar year is similar. In 2017, Kane and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski have 36 goals apiece in all competitions. Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang has 35. Edinson Cavani has 37 for PSG. Domestically, Kane and Lewandowski have 27 league goals over this period, so statistically the Spurs man is already on a par with the most productive around. He is outscoring Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain. I believe he is better than them. This is why there is understandable enthusiasm to promote Kane’s current standing. You see the reports suggesting Real Madrid are prepared to pay £200 million, and I am sure had he scored the winning goal in the Bernabeu in the Champions League in midweek it would have been presented as evidence Kane has reached the highest tier.  But, with the exception of Lewandowski who helped Borussia Dortmund to the Champions League final, I would contend these strikers have more to do to be truly world class. Forwards like Cavani, Benzema, Higuain and Aubamayang are greatly admired and some might argue to be part of this group proves Kane is world class. Not for me. Arsene Wenger made a good point a couple of years ago regarding the number of top class strikers out there. “The strikers are South American today. Europe doesn’t produce strikers any more,” Wenger said.  I am sure the progress of Kane and Kylian Mbappe since he made this comment would make him revise that view slightly, but broadly I agree. Kylian Mbappe is the world's second most expensive player and a rare commodity: a high quality European striker Credit: GETTY IMAGES There was a time when the world’s greatest players were number nines. Think of Marco Van Basten from Europe, or the Brazilians Romario and Ronaldo. Now there is a dearth of world class centre-forwards and that is putting Kane top of most wanted lists. I do not write this to belittle or criticise the Tottenham striker. He is my favourite Premier League footballer and if I was a manager he is the one player I would be begging my chairman to sign. There are few certainties in the transfer market, but – injury permitting – Kane is as close to the ideal signing you can get. He guarantees goals. He is the right age, at a point in his career where he will get better. Most important, he is striving for greatness. He has the application you need to attain his targets. I do not believe it will matter to him who is saying how good he is, or whether he is world class or not, he will want more.  I can see it in Kane’s eyes when he gives interviews, that focus and single-mindedness to achieve as much as he can from the game. He is obsessed with goals. When he turns up for pre-season every summer, I can tell he has that determination to finish the year as the top goalscorer. He will be studying his numbers. When I read the extract from the Spanish journalist Guillem Balague’s book on Mauricio Pochettino describing Kane as the ‘best player in the world in terms of mental strength, willpower and endeavour’ it did not surprise me. As a 14-year-old at Spurs, Kane was not the tallest or most physically developed in his group. I believe the coaches at the time thought his progress could go either way, but when they saw his dad at the training ground – and how tall he was – they took a long-term view with the player. He has repaid that faith.  If he stays fit and is not tempted to move abroad, I believe Kane will break Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record of 260. Where he needs to distance himself from Shearer is the number of medals won. It is a travesty a player of Shearer’s ability has only one Premier League winners’ medal. His haul should be up their with the greatest players. Kane cannot let his career progress without reward. No matter how strong Kane’s affinity to Spurs, the club must starting winning trophies. Shearer underlined his world-class talent because he also performed at the highest standard for England at a major tournament, in his case Euro 96. Kane must prove his quality on the international stage with England to truly be considered world class Credit: GETTY IMAGES England has had other recent players such as Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney who used the Champions League to confirm their world class status, regardless of how their international careers are judged. Fernando Torres was world class, not because of his Anfield career, but his contribution to Spain’s European Championship win in 2012. Suarez, one of the few strikers around who I feel still has the edge on Kane, is world class because of his performances for Uruguay at the World Cup and Barcelona in Europe. These performances added to what they were producing domestically. They were consistently brilliant at all levels and collected trophies. Total Football Special: Graeme Souness 37:26 I apply the same logic to managers. The greatest are defined by their success in the European Cup or Champions League. Think of it as those great golfers who spend their careers chasing a major trophy. We all know who has the talent, but there is clear way of separating the very best from the rest – those who win green jackets and Open Championships. Kane already stands apart from every other English player. There was a time when the national team was packed with those who were the main men for their clubs – Gerrard, Terry, Lampard, Rooney and Michael Owen. Now only Kane is the main man for his club. Pochettino may be upset about Spurs being referred to as this, but England is certainly the ‘Harry Kane Team’ Like it or not, that is a phrase that will stick because when Kane eventually achieves world class status his contribution will resonate most when we recall this era for Spurs and England.

Harry Kane is England's most talented footballer, but is not world class yet

It is often said in football the word ‘legend’ is applied too loosely. The same must be said of the phrase ‘world class’.  Too many players are given this tag, but we should pause before handing out such lavish compliments. That is why I do not agree with those arguing Harry Kane is a world-class footballer. He isn’t. Not yet. My criteria for world class status are stricter than excelling in the Premier League, no matter how long Kane terrorises defences domestically. World class players are those who deliver in the post-Christmas stage of the Champions League, shining in the quarter-finals and beyond. World class players are those who deliver at major international tournaments. By the end of this season Kane might tick both boxes. He has the credentials, but until such time becoming English football’s most talented footballer is not enough. There was a comment by Pep Guardiola when asked about Kevin De Bruyne’s superb start to the season. I loved it. “If you want Kevin to be considered one of the best he has to win titles,” said Guardiola. In that sentence Pep encapsulated my argument. De Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League at this moment. But one of the greatest managers of all time is telling him how much farther he has to go. The same applies to Kane. I agree he is one of the finest strikers in the world, but it's not solely about being one of the best of your generation. The stage on which you consistently apply that talent also matters.  If selecting a world XI, would Kane join Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo in the line-up? No. Not at this moment. Kane’s form compares favourably with his goalscoring peers, but his task is to go beyond them. Harry Kane goals in Champs League 02/10 The record of the most prolific in this calendar year is similar. In 2017, Kane and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski have 36 goals apiece in all competitions. Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang has 35. Edinson Cavani has 37 for PSG. Domestically, Kane and Lewandowski have 27 league goals over this period, so statistically the Spurs man is already on a par with the most productive around. He is outscoring Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain. I believe he is better than them. This is why there is understandable enthusiasm to promote Kane’s current standing. You see the reports suggesting Real Madrid are prepared to pay £200 million, and I am sure had he scored the winning goal in the Bernabeu in the Champions League in midweek it would have been presented as evidence Kane has reached the highest tier.  But, with the exception of Lewandowski who helped Borussia Dortmund to the Champions League final, I would contend these strikers have more to do to be truly world class. Forwards like Cavani, Benzema, Higuain and Aubamayang are greatly admired and some might argue to be part of this group proves Kane is world class. Not for me. Arsene Wenger made a good point a couple of years ago regarding the number of top class strikers out there. “The strikers are South American today. Europe doesn’t produce strikers any more,” Wenger said.  I am sure the progress of Kane and Kylian Mbappe since he made this comment would make him revise that view slightly, but broadly I agree. Kylian Mbappe is the world's second most expensive player and a rare commodity: a high quality European striker Credit: GETTY IMAGES There was a time when the world’s greatest players were number nines. Think of Marco Van Basten from Europe, or the Brazilians Romario and Ronaldo. Now there is a dearth of world class centre-forwards and that is putting Kane top of most wanted lists. I do not write this to belittle or criticise the Tottenham striker. He is my favourite Premier League footballer and if I was a manager he is the one player I would be begging my chairman to sign. There are few certainties in the transfer market, but – injury permitting – Kane is as close to the ideal signing you can get. He guarantees goals. He is the right age, at a point in his career where he will get better. Most important, he is striving for greatness. He has the application you need to attain his targets. I do not believe it will matter to him who is saying how good he is, or whether he is world class or not, he will want more.  I can see it in Kane’s eyes when he gives interviews, that focus and single-mindedness to achieve as much as he can from the game. He is obsessed with goals. When he turns up for pre-season every summer, I can tell he has that determination to finish the year as the top goalscorer. He will be studying his numbers. When I read the extract from the Spanish journalist Guillem Balague’s book on Mauricio Pochettino describing Kane as the ‘best player in the world in terms of mental strength, willpower and endeavour’ it did not surprise me. As a 14-year-old at Spurs, Kane was not the tallest or most physically developed in his group. I believe the coaches at the time thought his progress could go either way, but when they saw his dad at the training ground – and how tall he was – they took a long-term view with the player. He has repaid that faith.  If he stays fit and is not tempted to move abroad, I believe Kane will break Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record of 260. Where he needs to distance himself from Shearer is the number of medals won. It is a travesty a player of Shearer’s ability has only one Premier League winners’ medal. His haul should be up their with the greatest players. Kane cannot let his career progress without reward. No matter how strong Kane’s affinity to Spurs, the club must starting winning trophies. Shearer underlined his world-class talent because he also performed at the highest standard for England at a major tournament, in his case Euro 96. Kane must prove his quality on the international stage with England to truly be considered world class Credit: GETTY IMAGES England has had other recent players such as Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney who used the Champions League to confirm their world class status, regardless of how their international careers are judged. Fernando Torres was world class, not because of his Anfield career, but his contribution to Spain’s European Championship win in 2012. Suarez, one of the few strikers around who I feel still has the edge on Kane, is world class because of his performances for Uruguay at the World Cup and Barcelona in Europe. These performances added to what they were producing domestically. They were consistently brilliant at all levels and collected trophies. Total Football Special: Graeme Souness 37:26 I apply the same logic to managers. The greatest are defined by their success in the European Cup or Champions League. Think of it as those great golfers who spend their careers chasing a major trophy. We all know who has the talent, but there is clear way of separating the very best from the rest – those who win green jackets and Open Championships. Kane already stands apart from every other English player. There was a time when the national team was packed with those who were the main men for their clubs – Gerrard, Terry, Lampard, Rooney and Michael Owen. Now only Kane is the main man for his club. Pochettino may be upset about Spurs being referred to as this, but England is certainly the ‘Harry Kane Team’ Like it or not, that is a phrase that will stick because when Kane eventually achieves world class status his contribution will resonate most when we recall this era for Spurs and England.

Harry Kane is England's most talented footballer, but is not world class yet

It is often said in football the word ‘legend’ is applied too loosely. The same must be said of the phrase ‘world class’.  Too many players are given this tag, but we should pause before handing out such lavish compliments. That is why I do not agree with those arguing Harry Kane is a world-class footballer. He isn’t. Not yet. My criteria for world class status are stricter than excelling in the Premier League, no matter how long Kane terrorises defences domestically. World class players are those who deliver in the post-Christmas stage of the Champions League, shining in the quarter-finals and beyond. World class players are those who deliver at major international tournaments. By the end of this season Kane might tick both boxes. He has the credentials, but until such time becoming English football’s most talented footballer is not enough. There was a comment by Pep Guardiola when asked about Kevin De Bruyne’s superb start to the season. I loved it. “If you want Kevin to be considered one of the best he has to win titles,” said Guardiola. In that sentence Pep encapsulated my argument. De Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League at this moment. But one of the greatest managers of all time is telling him how much farther he has to go. The same applies to Kane. I agree he is one of the finest strikers in the world, but it's not solely about being one of the best of your generation. The stage on which you consistently apply that talent also matters.  If selecting a world XI, would Kane join Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo in the line-up? No. Not at this moment. Kane’s form compares favourably with his goalscoring peers, but his task is to go beyond them. Harry Kane goals in Champs League 02/10 The record of the most prolific in this calendar year is similar. In 2017, Kane and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski have 36 goals apiece in all competitions. Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang has 35. Edinson Cavani has 37 for PSG. Domestically, Kane and Lewandowski have 27 league goals over this period, so statistically the Spurs man is already on a par with the most productive around. He is outscoring Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain. I believe he is better than them. This is why there is understandable enthusiasm to promote Kane’s current standing. You see the reports suggesting Real Madrid are prepared to pay £200 million, and I am sure had he scored the winning goal in the Bernabeu in the Champions League in midweek it would have been presented as evidence Kane has reached the highest tier.  But, with the exception of Lewandowski who helped Borussia Dortmund to the Champions League final, I would contend these strikers have more to do to be truly world class. Forwards like Cavani, Benzema, Higuain and Aubamayang are greatly admired and some might argue to be part of this group proves Kane is world class. Not for me. Arsene Wenger made a good point a couple of years ago regarding the number of top class strikers out there. “The strikers are South American today. Europe doesn’t produce strikers any more,” Wenger said.  I am sure the progress of Kane and Kylian Mbappe since he made this comment would make him revise that view slightly, but broadly I agree. Kylian Mbappe is the world's second most expensive player and a rare commodity: a high quality European striker Credit: GETTY IMAGES There was a time when the world’s greatest players were number nines. Think of Marco Van Basten from Europe, or the Brazilians Romario and Ronaldo. Now there is a dearth of world class centre-forwards and that is putting Kane top of most wanted lists. I do not write this to belittle or criticise the Tottenham striker. He is my favourite Premier League footballer and if I was a manager he is the one player I would be begging my chairman to sign. There are few certainties in the transfer market, but – injury permitting – Kane is as close to the ideal signing you can get. He guarantees goals. He is the right age, at a point in his career where he will get better. Most important, he is striving for greatness. He has the application you need to attain his targets. I do not believe it will matter to him who is saying how good he is, or whether he is world class or not, he will want more.  I can see it in Kane’s eyes when he gives interviews, that focus and single-mindedness to achieve as much as he can from the game. He is obsessed with goals. When he turns up for pre-season every summer, I can tell he has that determination to finish the year as the top goalscorer. He will be studying his numbers. When I read the extract from the Spanish journalist Guillem Balague’s book on Mauricio Pochettino describing Kane as the ‘best player in the world in terms of mental strength, willpower and endeavour’ it did not surprise me. As a 14-year-old at Spurs, Kane was not the tallest or most physically developed in his group. I believe the coaches at the time thought his progress could go either way, but when they saw his dad at the training ground – and how tall he was – they took a long-term view with the player. He has repaid that faith.  If he stays fit and is not tempted to move abroad, I believe Kane will break Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record of 260. Where he needs to distance himself from Shearer is the number of medals won. It is a travesty a player of Shearer’s ability has only one Premier League winners’ medal. His haul should be up their with the greatest players. Kane cannot let his career progress without reward. No matter how strong Kane’s affinity to Spurs, the club must starting winning trophies. Shearer underlined his world-class talent because he also performed at the highest standard for England at a major tournament, in his case Euro 96. Kane must prove his quality on the international stage with England to truly be considered world class Credit: GETTY IMAGES England has had other recent players such as Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney who used the Champions League to confirm their world class status, regardless of how their international careers are judged. Fernando Torres was world class, not because of his Anfield career, but his contribution to Spain’s European Championship win in 2012. Suarez, one of the few strikers around who I feel still has the edge on Kane, is world class because of his performances for Uruguay at the World Cup and Barcelona in Europe. These performances added to what they were producing domestically. They were consistently brilliant at all levels and collected trophies. Total Football Special: Graeme Souness 37:26 I apply the same logic to managers. The greatest are defined by their success in the European Cup or Champions League. Think of it as those great golfers who spend their careers chasing a major trophy. We all know who has the talent, but there is clear way of separating the very best from the rest – those who win green jackets and Open Championships. Kane already stands apart from every other English player. There was a time when the national team was packed with those who were the main men for their clubs – Gerrard, Terry, Lampard, Rooney and Michael Owen. Now only Kane is the main man for his club. Pochettino may be upset about Spurs being referred to as this, but England is certainly the ‘Harry Kane Team’ Like it or not, that is a phrase that will stick because when Kane eventually achieves world class status his contribution will resonate most when we recall this era for Spurs and England.

Douglas Costa, Neymar & Gabriel Jesus make Brazil squad to face Japan and England

The Juventus man was joined be club-mate Alex Sandro, who appears to have edged out Filipe Luis, for Brasil Global Tour’s November stop in Europe

Douglas Costa, Neymar & Gabriel Jesus make Brazil squad to face Japan and England

The Juventus man was joined be club-mate Alex Sandro, who appears to have edged out Filipe Luis, for Brasil Global Tour’s November stop in Europe

Liverpool's Salah beats Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar to Uefa Champions League Player of the Week award

The Egypt winger again beat the Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG superstars to the top gong, making it his second in the three-matchday old competition

Liverpool's Salah beats Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar to Uefa Champions League Player of the Week award

The Egypt winger again beat the Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG superstars to the top gong, making it his second in the three-matchday old competition

Neymar told Barcelona team-mates he was joining PSG while at Lionel Messi's wedding

Former Barcelona captain Xavi has revealed that Neymar informed team-mates he would be leaving for PSG in June, while they were gathered at Lionel Messi's wedding. Neymar was the star of a transfer saga which dragged on throughout the summer with PSG breaking the world transfer record to sign him, starting a domino effect around Europe which caused player valuations to skyrocket, in a world where Harry Maguire is already worth £17 million.  Speaking of things that cost too much, it was during a wedding that Neymar chose to announce his decision to leave Barcelona, as Xavi told the BBC's World Football Show: "(Neymar) said to us at Messi's wedding that he wanted to change club. I said to him 'but why'? He said 'I am not happy in Barcelona. I prefer to leave to have a new experience in Europe at PSG' and finally he did. "It was his decision, we must respect it." Barcelona were angered when PSG met Neymar's release clause, losing the Brazilian for a world record £198million. Total Football Special: Graeme Souness 37:26 That Neymar had already set his heart on a move makes the transfer that much more interesting. Barcelona hastily paid £135.5million for young French forward Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in an attempt to address the absence of talent in their front three, and spent many summer days trying to unsuccessfully sign Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.  PSG also controversially signed Kylian Mbappe for £165million as the Qatar-backed club put money behind their plan to create a new version of Barcelona's famous MSN attacking trio. It has not been revealed which fellow footballer's wedding Mbappe decided to upstage by announcing his decision to leave Monaco.  Neymar has been in sensational form since his switch to Ligue 1, scoring nine goals in 10 games while his replacement, Dembele, started well before suffering a hamstring injury which could keep him out until late November. 

Neymar confirmed wish to leave Barcelona at Messi's wedding, says Xavi

It should have been a time for celebration, but the Brazilian dropped a bombshell during the Argentine's big day in Rosario

Neymar confirmed wish to leave Barcelona at Messi's wedding, says Xavi

Neymar's wedding present to Lionel Messi was a bombshell about his future, ex-Barcelona star Xavi has said.

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

For Deyna Castellanos, Surprise FIFA Nomination Just a Step Toward Becoming 'The Best'

Deyna Castellanos was just as surprised as everyone else.

It was a typical morning in August and Florida State’s 18-year-old Venezuelan forward was getting ready for training with her teammates when her phone buzzed.

"I was having breakfast with the team before training, in the physiotherapy room, and I got a notification about a tweet from FIFA.com saying I'd been nominated," said Castellanos last month. "I was absolutely buzzing when I read it; I started shouting and running around the treatment tables."

Castellanos had just been nominated for The Best FIFA Women’s Player award and eventually became a finalist, joining USA star and two-time reigning winner Carli Lloyd and Netherlands' Women's Euro 2017 hero Lieke Martens.

Additionally, her incredible goal against Cameroon in the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup was also nominated for the Puskas award. Both honors will be among those doled out in London on Monday at FIFA's annual gala.

She became the third female player to make it to the final three of the Puskas nominations and the second Venezuelan teen in successive years after her Vinotinto teammate Daniuska Rodriguez was also nominated in 2016.

“I am so, so happy to be nominated, and I’m so excited for the day of the awards ceremony to arrive. I try and enjoy my soccer as much as I can, whether it’s with Florida State, Venezuela or Santa Clarita (Castellanos spent her summer playing with this second-division team from the United Women’s Soccer League) and every single experience is so important to me as a player," Castellanos told SI.com this week.

There is no doubting the young Venezuelan’s ability or talent. Castellanos is an outstanding player, one with a tremendous future ahead of her, but given the number of more experienced players on the international stage who also deserved the nod, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that her nomination was a bit puzzling.

"I am extremely surprised to be nominated amongst these incredible players, and if you’re asking me if I expected this at 18 years old, then the answer is no,” she said, “But I will take this as an honor and a source of inspiration as these are the goals I expect for myself for many years to come.”

FIFA has long had perception issues when it comes to voting for women's honors (could you imagine a youth men's player being a finalist for The Best at the expense of accomplished, senior-level players, for instance?), and overall there's a ways to go for the women's game to be treated like the men's in all facets.

Castellanos believes that there is plenty of work left to do, but to also not completely ignore the achievements and steps that have already been made.

“There is still a lot to do with the women’s game, and FIFA can definitely do more to help it grow, but we have to remember that the most important thing is that at least, little by little, we’re moving forward and not backwards, so let’s keep shining a light on the women’s game.”

Castellanos uses South America as an example, where this year in Colombia launched the country’s first professional women's league, making it the fourth country on the continent to have a women's domestic league.

“South America and Latin America still needs to grow, and you can see how many steps behind we are from the U.S., but thanks to these new leagues that are turning pro, steps are being taken nonetheless.”

Castellanos is most certainly a success story, but her future most likely resides across the ocean, thousands of miles from home.

Born and raised in Maracay, Venezuela, a city about an hour and a half from Caracas, Castellanos's dream was to play college soccer in America.

Her dream began in 2013 at 14 years old, when she attended Juan Arango’s youth academy, named and founded after the legendary Venezuela national team player who currently plays for the New York Cosmos.

Almost immediately after joining, she was receiving recognition in the national setup. That same year she joined the U-17 Venezuelan squad and was part of the team’s first South American U-17 championship title. A year later, in 2014, she helped her country reach fourth place at the U-17 World Cup and won the Golden Boot, scoring six goals in the tournament alongside her teammate, Gabriela García.

She was also the highest scorer (seven goals) at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in China, earning a silver medal for La Vinotinto.

Two years later, Castellanos helped her nation once again win the South American title, scoring 12 goals and winning the Golden Boot and MVP award. That same year, at the U-17 World Cup, Castellanos was awarded the Bronze Ball and Bronze Boot as Venezuela came fourth for a second consecutive time.

She currently holds the all-time scoring record in the tournament with 11 goals.

After last year’s World Cup, Castellanos could have gone pro, but her dream of playing soccer in the U.S. while continuing her education was her top priority. It was then when the young striker and her family met Guillermo Zamarripa, founder of CMAS Group, an educational and athletic organization based in Mexico and the U.S. that connects international–most notably Hispanic–young athletes with America colleges.

A few months later, Castellanos and her family had received dozens of college offers and ultimately went with Florida State.

“When I met Deyna and her mother for the first time, I learned very quickly she was very special,” Zamarripa said. “Her confidence is as big as her talent and yet she excels so much at being so humble. I think it’s really difficult to find that emotional balance in a teenager but she has that special 'something.' I really think she was born to change the landscape of women’s soccer worldwide.”

Arango, who says Castellanos can be a 'natural heir to Marta or Carli Lloyd,' also realized how special she is after her performance in Jordan at the U-17 World Cup last year.

“I can’t remember how many years ago it was when I first saw her play, but I do remember that I was impressed,” he said in 2016. “It was just amazing to see a girl of her age play with such skill and power, hit the ball with either foot and have such an explosive turn of pace. She’s studying in the U.S. right now and her studies are important too, because she’s still young. I don’t think it’ll be long before she’s off to Europe, though.”

Castellanos may be proving Arango’s point in the next few years, as playing for a Manchester City Women or Barcelona Femini is her ultimate goal.

“I am truly enjoying my time here in the U.S., but after FSU, the next step is Europe. No doubt. It’s something my family and I have discussed," Castellanos said.

Whether Castellanos deserves the FIFA nomination at such a young age is still up for debate, and while she might not be "The Best" just yet, she certainly appears to have the drive and tools to be on her way.

For Deyna Castellanos, Surprise FIFA Nomination Just a Step Toward Becoming 'The Best'

Deyna Castellanos was just as surprised as everyone else.

It was a typical morning in August and Florida State’s 18-year-old Venezuelan forward was getting ready for training with her teammates when her phone buzzed.

"I was having breakfast with the team before training, in the physiotherapy room, and I got a notification about a tweet from FIFA.com saying I'd been nominated," said Castellanos last month. "I was absolutely buzzing when I read it; I started shouting and running around the treatment tables."

Castellanos had just been nominated for The Best FIFA Women’s Player award and eventually became a finalist, joining USA star and two-time reigning winner Carli Lloyd and Netherlands' Women's Euro 2017 hero Lieke Martens.

Additionally, her incredible goal against Cameroon in the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup was also nominated for the Puskas award. Both honors will be among those doled out in London on Monday at FIFA's annual gala.

She became the third female player to make it to the final three of the Puskas nominations and the second Venezuelan teen in successive years after her Vinotinto teammate Daniuska Rodriguez was also nominated in 2016.

“I am so, so happy to be nominated, and I’m so excited for the day of the awards ceremony to arrive. I try and enjoy my soccer as much as I can, whether it’s with Florida State, Venezuela or Santa Clarita (Castellanos spent her summer playing with this second-division team from the United Women’s Soccer League) and every single experience is so important to me as a player," Castellanos told SI.com this week.

There is no doubting the young Venezuelan’s ability or talent. Castellanos is an outstanding player, one with a tremendous future ahead of her, but given the number of more experienced players on the international stage who also deserved the nod, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that her nomination was a bit puzzling.

"I am extremely surprised to be nominated amongst these incredible players, and if you’re asking me if I expected this at 18 years old, then the answer is no,” she said, “But I will take this as an honor and a source of inspiration as these are the goals I expect for myself for many years to come.”

FIFA has long had perception issues when it comes to voting for women's honors (could you imagine a youth men's player being a finalist for The Best at the expense of accomplished, senior-level players, for instance?), and overall there's a ways to go for the women's game to be treated like the men's in all facets.

Castellanos believes that there is plenty of work left to do, but to also not completely ignore the achievements and steps that have already been made.

“There is still a lot to do with the women’s game, and FIFA can definitely do more to help it grow, but we have to remember that the most important thing is that at least, little by little, we’re moving forward and not backwards, so let’s keep shining a light on the women’s game.”

Castellanos uses South America as an example, where this year in Colombia launched the country’s first professional women's league, making it the fourth country on the continent to have a women's domestic league.

“South America and Latin America still needs to grow, and you can see how many steps behind we are from the U.S., but thanks to these new leagues that are turning pro, steps are being taken nonetheless.”

Castellanos is most certainly a success story, but her future most likely resides across the ocean, thousands of miles from home.

Born and raised in Maracay, Venezuela, a city about an hour and a half from Caracas, Castellanos's dream was to play college soccer in America.

Her dream began in 2013 at 14 years old, when she attended Juan Arango’s youth academy, named and founded after the legendary Venezuela national team player who currently plays for the New York Cosmos.

Almost immediately after joining, she was receiving recognition in the national setup. That same year she joined the U-17 Venezuelan squad and was part of the team’s first South American U-17 championship title. A year later, in 2014, she helped her country reach fourth place at the U-17 World Cup and won the Golden Boot, scoring six goals in the tournament alongside her teammate, Gabriela García.

She was also the highest scorer (seven goals) at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in China, earning a silver medal for La Vinotinto.

Two years later, Castellanos helped her nation once again win the South American title, scoring 12 goals and winning the Golden Boot and MVP award. That same year, at the U-17 World Cup, Castellanos was awarded the Bronze Ball and Bronze Boot as Venezuela came fourth for a second consecutive time.

She currently holds the all-time scoring record in the tournament with 11 goals.

After last year’s World Cup, Castellanos could have gone pro, but her dream of playing soccer in the U.S. while continuing her education was her top priority. It was then when the young striker and her family met Guillermo Zamarripa, founder of CMAS Group, an educational and athletic organization based in Mexico and the U.S. that connects international–most notably Hispanic–young athletes with America colleges.

A few months later, Castellanos and her family had received dozens of college offers and ultimately went with Florida State.

“When I met Deyna and her mother for the first time, I learned very quickly she was very special,” Zamarripa said. “Her confidence is as big as her talent and yet she excels so much at being so humble. I think it’s really difficult to find that emotional balance in a teenager but she has that special 'something.' I really think she was born to change the landscape of women’s soccer worldwide.”

Arango, who says Castellanos can be a 'natural heir to Marta or Carli Lloyd,' also realized how special she is after her performance in Jordan at the U-17 World Cup last year.

“I can’t remember how many years ago it was when I first saw her play, but I do remember that I was impressed,” he said in 2016. “It was just amazing to see a girl of her age play with such skill and power, hit the ball with either foot and have such an explosive turn of pace. She’s studying in the U.S. right now and her studies are important too, because she’s still young. I don’t think it’ll be long before she’s off to Europe, though.”

Castellanos may be proving Arango’s point in the next few years, as playing for a Manchester City Women or Barcelona Femini is her ultimate goal.

“I am truly enjoying my time here in the U.S., but after FSU, the next step is Europe. No doubt. It’s something my family and I have discussed," Castellanos said.

Whether Castellanos deserves the FIFA nomination at such a young age is still up for debate, and while she might not be "The Best" just yet, she certainly appears to have the drive and tools to be on her way.

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