On December 16, 2018, in the last update of the Golden Boot year, the leader of the standings was not Lionel Messi (5th at the time), Kylian Mbappé (10th) or Cristiano Ronaldo (20th). To everyone’s surprise, Brazilian Liliu, from Estonia’s Nomme Kalju, led the list with 31 goals in 30 games. Little more than two years later, that forward who made the news landed in our country to play in Sport Huancayo. And, after eliminating UTC in the South American Cup (He put the first in the 4-0 win), spoke with Depor about the dream of making ‘almost’ history – in the end the ‘Flea’ got the trophy -, his arrival in Peru and his extravagant football destinations.
You have played in Belgium, Kuwait, Emirates, Cyprus, Israel, Malta, Sweden, Finland and now in Peru. What moved you to travel the world?
We Brazilians always have the dream of playing in Europe. I left Brazil very young, at 19 years old. At first my desire was to debut in my country and make a name for myself, but I had the possibility of emigrating soon and I didn’t think twice.
In which country did you feel most comfortable?
I think in Belgium. I arrived very young and it went well. It is a very competitive league and also a good country to live in.
But it was in Estonia where you made history, and you came to lead the Golden Boot table. Incredible, right?
Yeah right. I was playing extreme before arriving in Estonia, but the coach saw me play and put me at ‘9’. In the middle season I scored 16 goals in 18 games, and my breakthrough came in my second year, with 31 goals in 30 games. We came out champions and undefeated, an unforgettable year.
Were you excited about winning the Golden Boot?
Believe me I was not thinking about that, I only realized it in October of that year (2018). December came, the season ended and I was in first place. Likewise, there was half a season left and then Messi, Cristiano and Lewandowski went forward and on top of that I had a disadvantage: in Estonia each goal was worth one point, and in Spain and Germany two. I knew I wasn’t going to win, but just being on that list was amazing.
After that campaign in Estonia, didn’t they look for you to play for that team?
Not in Estonia, but in Malta they did look for me. The Federation managers invited me and made the request to FIFA, but the main requirement was to have played at least five years in that country and I only had two.
And what is the strangest thing that has happened to you in the countries where you have played?
When I arrived in the Emirates, we were in the Ramadan period, and there people sleep during the day and live at night. And because of the heat, we trained at 10 at night under 42 degrees, which was the lowest temperature. Oh, and at dinner, they eat with their hands. It was quite strange.
Economically, are they good destinations, compared to Brazil for example?
Yes, some pay very well, but I have also been in countries that do not. To be honest, money is important but it was not the reason why I played in those countries. My ambition was sports, but of course one also wants to make a life and live well.
Now you got to Peruvian soccer. Why did you make the decision to return to South America?
There were offers in Europe, but I had in my head that I wanted to return to South America after 10 years away. My representative told me about Sport Huancayo’s chance, and I had just seen some of the team’s matches in the Copa Sudamericana last year. I didn’t think about it much and accepted.
And did you have any acquaintances in Peruvian soccer?
Yes, he was my partner in Belgium, we lost contact over the years, but I had a good relationship with Nelinho Quina, who now plays in the ‘U’. It helped me a lot when I first came to Europe.
Well now you have to face it.
Yes, it will be an occasion to greet him. I remember that in Belgium we stopped from top to bottom and even took English classes together. It was a good time.
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