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Bruno Henrique, from receptionist and amateur to share record with Pelé

Bruno Henrique, from receptionist and amateur to share record with Pelé

His is not the typical story of the footballer who dazzled the scouts. Already of age, Bruno Henrique continued to drill nets in amateur football in Brazil. Now, the figure of Flamengo in the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores shares a record with Pelé.

The 30-year-old attacker scored all four goals for the two-time Brazilian champion against Barcelona of Ecuador in the semifinals of the South American tournament, a feat only achieved by Pelé (Santos, 1963) and the Colombians Miguel Borja (2016) and the late Albeiro « Palomo »Usuriaga (1989), both with Atlético Nacional.

His scores led the popular Rio de Janeiro club to the final of the main club competition in America, to be played with their compatriots from Palmeiras on November 27 in Montevideo.

«I’m going to focus on winning the title. Wearing this shirt is not for everyone, I am lucky. I am very happy to have scored both goals at Maracana and here [en Guayaquil]. It only remains for me to thank, “he said on Wednesday, after sealing the series (4-0 on aggregate) against the Ecuadorians.

Despite the happiness for the victory and his brilliant individual performance, which brings ‘Mengão’ closer to his third crown in the Libertadores after those of 1981 and 2019, not everything was joy in the life of Bruno Henrique.

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– Slow take off –
Atlético Mineiro and América Mineiro, two of the three traditional clubs from his native Belo Horizonte, cut him off when he went to try out their minor categories in the meridian of the 2000s.

Rejected, the forward, then nicknamed “Bruninho” or “Mosquito”, because he flew past rivals, divided his time to keep his passion for the ball alive.

During the week he studied and worked as an office receptionist to help his family, from humble origins. And on Sundays he defended the colors of Inconfidência, the team from his neighborhood, Concórdia, in the neighborhood championships in the capital of the state of Minas Gerais.

“Since we were little we dreamed of being professional soccer players, but we did not expect to receive the opportunity to play amateur soccer,” recalled his brother Juninho in an interview with ESPN five years ago.

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In 2012, Inconfidência was crowned champion for the first time of the Itatiaia Cup, one of the main amateur tournaments in Brazil, which has been played since 1962, with Bruno Henrique as a figure.

«He entered the field and everyone already perceived that he was above average. He had speed to handle the ball on dirt fields. He was standing out and gaining popularity “, recalled his first technician, Ronnie Hudson, to the Globo newspaper in 2019.

Then, between 22 and 23 years old, Cruzeiro, the other traditional club from Belo Horizonte, today in the second division, noticed him.

He tried out with the celestial, but ended up making his professional debut with Goiás, from the city of Goiania (center), in 2015. There he began a dizzying growth.

– Lethal duo with Gabigol –
With the Esmeraldinos he played a season before being bought by Wolfsburg of Germany for two million euros. He spent two years in the Bundesliga and started in the 2-0 victory against Real Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Champions League-2016, although the meringues came back on the return leg.

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The European journey lasted just two summers and in 2017 Santos, the team where Pelé reaped much of his fame, signed him.

He wore the Albinegra jacket until 2019, when he reinforced the powerful Flamengo of the Portuguese Jorge Jesus, a steamroller that won five titles, including the Libertadores and the Brasileirao, in thirteen months.

His performances in that red and black band, which had more trophies than lost games (4), caught the attention of the ‘Seleção’ coach, Tite, who called him up for friendlies against Colombia and Peru in the United States. They were the only two times that he dressed as ‘verdeamarelo’.

In Rio de Janeiro he consolidated a lethal duo with national team striker Gabriel Barbosa, Libertadores-2021 striker with ten goals.

Between them they have scored half of Flamengo’s goals (36 of 72) in the last three cup editions, according to Opta statistics. He did 15 and Gabigol sang 21.

«I can only thank the love and support. I don’t want to stop here, I always want more », says« Mosquito », who now flies for another Libertadores title.

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