Manchester United winger Antony has received harsh criticism over his showboating and dribbling skills. Critics have deemed it to be excessive and over-the-top, but he explains how it’s a part of him.
Antony has told The Players’ Tribune of his experiences growing up: ”I was born in hell. That’s not a joke. For my European friends who don’t know, the favela where I grew up in Sao Paulo is actually called Inferninho — ‘little hell’. It’s an infamous place. Fifteen steps from our front door, there were always drug dealers doing their business, passing stuff hand-to-hand. The smell was constantly outside our window.”
“Actually, one of my first memories is my father getting up from the couch on a Sunday and going to yell at the guys to walk down the street a little bit and leave us in peace, because his kids were inside trying to watch the football match. We were so used to seeing guns that it was not even scary. They were just a part of everyday life. We were more scared of the police knocking down our door.”
Antony went on to add of mastering the art of beating opponents with quick feet: “Every day, my older brother would take me to the square to play football. In the favela, everyone plays. Kids, old men, teachers, construction workers, bus drivers, drug dealers, gangsters. There, everyone is equal.”
“In my father’s time it was a dirt pitch. In my time, it was asphalt. In the beginning, I played barefoot, on bleeding feet. We did not have money for proper shoes. I was small, but I dribbled with a meanness that came from God. Dribbling was always something inside me. It was a natural instinct.”
“And I refused to bow my head to anyone. I would elastico the drug dealers. Rainbow the bus drivers. Nutmeg the thieves. I really did not give a f*ck. With a ball at my feet, I had no fear.”
Antony looks to steal the spotlight in Manchester, as he’s made a high-money move from Ajax to work under Erik Ten Hag once again.