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Early Europe moves a peril for Brazil's child stars

  • AP, Friday, October 29, 2010 2:46 AM

Tales Azzoni reports on young Brazilians who are shipped to European clubs at younger and younger ages. Their personal growth isn't all that's jeopardized by leapfrogging childhood. Their development as players can also suffer, derailing their careers and possibly costing Brazil a future star.

"These kids sign huge deals, but most of the time they can’t keep up to the expectations that come along with these multimillion dollar transactions,” said sports psychologist Joao Ricardo Cozac, president of a sports psychology association in Sao Paulo. “If they are not prepared emotionally, they won’t be able to perform as well as they did when they signed the deals and ultimately will fail and return to Brazil earlier than expected.”

Midfielder Rodrigo Possebon signed with Manchester United as a promising 17-year-old, but is back with Brazilian club Santos, where he is not even a regular in the reserves. "It’s not easy to be away from your friends and from your family, to have to adapt to a different culture, to a different weather,” he said. “But I don’t think any teenager would reject an offer like the one I got, to play for Manchester United, so I would definitely do it again, it was a good experience.”

Cozac said, "In Brazil, these kids necessarily need to give up their normal lives in order to dedicate themselves to football. They end up missing on key phases of their lives, going from childhood to adulthood faster than everybody else. Most of the time, this ends up hurting them in the future. ... In the beginning it’s all great. They start making all this money and start buying a lot of things that they’ve always wanted to buy, all at an early age. But if they are not well prepared, this becomes a problem later in their lives.”

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