Willian’s journey from the streets of Sao Paulo to Stamford Bridge

first_imgOn Wednesday evening in Lille, Willian made his 300th appearance for Chelsea.It is an incredible achievement, another significant milestone on an arduous journey for both the player and his family.It began in Brazil, where football is often seen as a way to escape some of the harsher realities of life. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career Willian’s dream from the age of four was to become a professional and his parents did everything they could to make it a reality.“My dad was working in the street and my mum was working every day as a cleaner,” Willian tells Goal of his Sao Paulo childhood. “My life was like that. Growing up was very difficult. Sometimes we didn’t have money to go to training so they asked somebody to give us some.“My parents gave everything. They sacrificed, they went to work. Sometimes they worked 24 hours, so they called friends to help us. They did everything for me to become a football player.”[When I got my first pay cheque at Corinthians], I got an apartment for my family and I bought a car for my dad as well.“I also got my first car. I had seen players buy a Land Rover but my first car was only a Celta. But I was still so happy.”“My mum and dad did everything for me to become a professional footballer.” ❤️Willian talks to @NizaarKinsella about growing up in Brazil and his road to become the player he is today 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/VptZEZVZbo— Goal (@goal) October 3, 2019He’s still so happy, although he is no longer a wide-eyed teenager with his whole career ahead of him.At 31, Willian is now one of the senior figures in a Chelsea dressing room that has been bolstered by a plethora of promising youngsters, such as Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori.Consequently, he is doing everything he can to help Frank Lampard’s fledglings settle into their new surroundings.That is hardly surprising, of course. After all, we’re talking about a man who set up a charitable foundation aimed at helping disadvantaged children in Brazil.Earlier this year, he even launched a smartphone app designed to advise kids from poor backgrounds on how to get into football.He had the sustained support of his parents when he was trying to make it in the game and is aware that not every child is so lucky.For Willian, then, the app is an attempt to provide a helping hand to those less fortunate than himself.”I started to play at four years old,” the Brazil international reveals. “I went to Corinthians at nine years old. Then, it started to become more serious.“I was actually playing against Corinthians at the time but, at the end of a game, the manager from Corinthians came to me and said that they liked me. ‘Where are you parents? Are they here?’ they asked. “I said yes, so they had a conversation with my dad.“They said, ‘We want your son to come and stay with us for a week so we can see him play more.’ I went there and stayed for nine years before becoming a professional.”In my head, it was like ‘I want to become a professional player.’ I had a dream and I went for it but I couldn’t do it alone.”That’s what people have to know, especially parents. The dad and mum, they can’t do it alone.”If something bad happens, you can’t give up. You have to push, like my mum did with me. She never gave up in difficult situations. My parents wanted me to live my dream.”Willian GFXIn October 2016, Willian was left devastated when his mother, Donna Zee, passed away in hospital after battling a brain tumour for two-and-a-half years. Willian scored on his return from compassionate leave, against Hull, and paid tribute to his late mother with his goal celebration. He would do so again the following month after netting against Man City.Those goals played a pivotal role in Chelsea’s 13-game winning streak under Antonio Conte, a sensational run of form that resulted in Willian winning a second league title with the Blues.”It was a difficult moment but I had people that supported me and helped me a lot,” he explains.”It was very hard and thanks to God I turned the situation around to continue my career.”Despite the hardships and heartbreak he has endured, Willian is still going strong, as he underlined by marking his 300th appearance with the winning goal in Chelsea’s vital 2-1 Champions League win at Lille on Wednesday night.Willian’s journey has been an incredible one and, happily, it’s not over yet.By the time he’s done, he’s hoping he’ll have helped many other boys from Brazil take their first steps on the same path to superstardom.last_img