FootballPremier LeagueTrending

Antony’s Turbulent Journey: From Favela Dreams to Allegations and Uncertainty

Growing Up in ‘Little Hell’

Hailing from the Sao Paulo favela known as Inferninho, or ‘Little Hell,’ Antony’s upbringing was marred by the presence of gangsters and drug dealers. In a candid interview with The Players’ Tribune in 2022, he shared his experiences of living amidst dire poverty and the constant presence of violence. The favela’s harsh realities served as the backdrop for Antony’s early life.

Guns and Walking Over a Dead Body

Inferno’s harsh reality meant Antony was no stranger to gun violence and police raids. Recalling a chilling encounter with a lifeless body on his way to school, he shed light on the daily challenges he faced growing up in such an environment. The normalization of such traumatic experiences left an indelible mark on his psyche.

Doing Tricks Against Gangsters

Football became Antony’s escape from the horrors of his neighborhood. Playing barefoot with unmatched determination, he fearlessly showcased his skills even in the presence of gangsters. His love for the game knew no bounds, and it became a source of resilience and determination.

A Big Opportunity & Range Rover Dreams

Antony’s journey to professional football began when he caught the eye of Gremio Barueri’s futsal team director. At just eight years old, he promised his mother he would become a professional footballer and buy a red Range Rover, both of which he remarkably achieved. These early dreams fueled his determination to overcome adversity.

Joining Sao Paulo

At the age of 14, Antony joined the academy of local giants Sao Paulo FC, one of Brazil’s most prestigious football clubs. However, his time there was far from straightforward. Antony faced the challenge of attending training sessions on an empty stomach due to financial constraints. His unyielding intensity on the field was a testament to his favela roots.

Rise to Stardom

In 2019, Antony led Sao Paulo to victory in the Copinha, a prestigious youth competition in the city. His prominence in the first team grew, and he played in front of thousands of fans. Remarkably, he returned to the same favela where he lived after matches, embodying the contrast between his professional success and his roots.

Becoming a Father Aged 19

In 2019, Antony faced the responsibility of fatherhood at a young age. While initially grappling with the news, the birth of his son, Lorenzo, transformed his life and career. The newfound sense of responsibility pushed him to mature as both a person and a player.

Signing for Ajax

European clubs quickly recognized Antony’s talent, with Borussia Dortmund making an approach. However, it was Ajax, coached by Erik ten Hag, that secured the winger’s signature in February 2020. His physical transformation during the coronavirus lockdowns left him faster and stronger, setting the stage for a promising European career.

Olympic Glory with Brazil

At the end of his first season with Ajax, Antony was selected for the Brazil under-23 squad for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The winger emerged as one of the standout players of the tournament, starting every match as his team reached the final against Spain. Antony played a pivotal role, setting up the decisive goal that secured Brazil’s victory.

Impressing in the Champions League

Antony’s second season with Ajax was even more impressive. He played a crucial role in Ajax’s stunning Champions League group stage campaign, where they won all six matches, with Antony scoring twice and setting up four goals. His performances contributed to Ajax’s Eredivisie title retention and their journey to the KNBV Cup final.

Challenges and Criticisms

Not everyone was pleased with Antony’s performances with Ajax, though. His behavior during a match against arch-rivals Feyenoord, marked by time-wasting and dramatic falls, drew criticism from various quarters. Some commentators described him as “childish,” emphasizing the need for growth and maturity.

Move to United After Strike and Price Rise

Antony’s time at Ajax soon came to an end when Erik ten Hag left for Manchester United and sought to bring the Brazilian talent with him. Antony’s determination to facilitate the move included refusing to train ahead of a match against Utrecht. In the end, he cost United a staggering £85 million, making him one of the club’s most expensive signings.

Lift Off with United

Antony made a memorable start with United, scoring the opening goal on his debut against Arsenal, a 3-1 win at Old Trafford. He continued to impress with goals against Manchester City and Everton, setting records along the way. However, sustaining such immense performance levels proved challenging over the course of the season.

A Disappointing World Cup

Despite his call-up to the 2022 World Cup squad, Antony’s tournament performance was underwhelming. He cited unusual reasons for his subpar displays, pointing to the air conditioning in stadiums as a factor affecting his performance.

Scoring Against Barcelona

Antony delivered a crucial goal for United in a Europa League play-off against Barcelona, securing a stunning 2-1 comeback win at Old Trafford. His contributions were not limited to that match; he also scored a remarkable curler in a 4-1 victory over Real Betis in the next round.

First Allegations Made

The first storm in Antony’s career hit when his ex-girlfriend, Gabriela Cavallin, filed a police report in Brazil in June 2022, accusing the footballer of domestic violence, threats, and bodily injury. United initially made no official comment, but Antony took to Instagram to vehemently deny the allegations.

A Promising Pre-Season

Surprisingly, the allegations against Antony did not affect his place in United’s squad. He was selected for the pre-season tour of the United States in July. During these pre-season matches, Antony displayed his footballing prowess by scoring in a 3-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund and a 3-1 victory over Lens. Manager Erik ten Hag remained optimistic about his prospects.

Dropped by Brazil After More Details Emerge

The day after United’s defeat to Arsenal, Antony headed off to Brazil to join the national team for their first two World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Peru. However, when he landed, more disturbing details of the allegations against him were revealed by Gabriela Cavallin, his former girlfriend. These allegations painted a much grimmer picture and led to Brazil dropping Antony from the national team to protect the alleged victim, the player, the Brazilian national team, and the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation).

More Women Denounce Him

*Antony gave a television interview in Brazil to vehemently assert his innocence regarding the allegations made by Gabriela Cavallin. He stated, “I’m 100 percent sure I’ve never touched a woman, and I’ll come up with the

evidence. People will see the truth. I have never assaulted and I will never assault.” However, the situation took a darker turn when two more women came forward with allegations against the United player.

Additional Allegations Surface

Rayssa de Freitas, a law student, claimed to have been violently attacked by Antony and Mallu Ohana, the ex-wife of Brazilian player Dudu, during an incident at a Sao Paulo nightclub in May 2022. Her injuries required hospital treatment, adding gravity to the accusations.

Ingrid Lana, a 33-year-old banker, also came forward, recounting an incident in which Antony allegedly behaved aggressively towards her in October 2022. In response, Antony denied assaulting Lana, characterizing the encounter as “intimate and consensual.”

United’s Response and Suspension

After maintaining silence for several months, Manchester United released its first statement on the allegations against Antony. The club stopped short of suspending him but expressed concern and pledged cooperation with the ongoing investigations.

However, following the emergence of new allegations from Rayssa de Freitas and Ingrid Lana, the club announced that Antony would not be rejoining the squad for training after the international break. This decision was reached mutually to avoid distraction for his teammates and further controversy for the club.

Antony responded to this development by stating, “This was a mutual decision to avoid distraction to my teammates and unnecessary controversy for the club. I want to reiterate my innocence of the things I have been accused of, and I will fully cooperate with the police to help them reach the truth. I look forward to returning to play as soon as possible.”

Antony’s journey, once filled with promise and potential, has taken a somber turn. As the allegations against him continue to unfold, the football world watches with bated breath, unsure of what the future holds for this talented yet embattled young player. His story serves as a stark reminder that success on the pitch does not guarantee immunity from the challenges and controversies that life may bring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *