Liga Espanhola

Liga Espanhola

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Richarlison exclusive: 'Scared of Chelsea? I had a gun pointed at my face'

Richarlison is talking about fear - or, rather, his complete lack of it when he has a football at his feet. “I remember when I was growing up in Brazil, a guy once pointed a gun at my face because he thought I was a drug dealer trying to steal his distribution point," he says. "That was my life. After that, playing Chelsea seems much easier!" The comment comes accompanied by a chuckle, which is something Richarlison does a lot. He has plenty to smile about as he reflects on his life since joining Watford in the summer: the club have made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, and he is already being widely hailed as one of the signings of the season - a snip at £11.5million from Fluminese - and touted for a call-up to Brazil's senior squad for next month's game against England at Wembley. Having skimmed four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, Saturday brings a visit to Stamford Bridge: Antonio Conte, already under pressure after consecutive league defeats, would be justified in feeling fretful. The well-heeled streets of west London are certainly a million miles from Vila Rúbia, a rough area of Nova Venecia, Richarlison's home city in Brazil. It was here that the young footballer had his brush with that errant gunman as a teenager.  Nova Venécia locator “That sort of thing was natural in my life, so I was not scared at all. It was a pretty rough area: I saw drugs in front of me every day, and gunshots as well," he says, in his first major interview since arriving in England.  "We had a small house, but there was a backyard there where people used to hide drugs before selling them. They were my friends, so I could not do anything against them. They were mostly involved with selling weed and stuff, but I have never touched it. Some of my friends from that time are in jail now."  Football proved his salvation - and not simply because his talent offered him a way out of Rubia. Richarlison with his youth team in Nova Venecia Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram  "There was everything to turn myself in a drug dealer, but my coaches were from the police," he revealed. "As they were aware of where I was from, they were always giving me advice in order to prevent me going on that bad path." Richarlison has had to grow up quickly, but his decision to steer away from a life of crime was not the first time his life had arrived at a crossroads. When he was just seven, his father, a bricklayer, and mother, a cleaner, had broken up and he needed to decide with whom he would live.  “I cried a lot”, he recalls. “I was in the moving truck with my mum, with all the furniture, beds and wardrobes. At the very last minute I dropped out from the truck. All my siblings went with my mum, but I stayed with my dad.” The reason? “He was the person with whom I played and watched football. I knew my mum would not take me to the games. I was young, but not silly.” Richarlison with his mother and siblings in his native Brazil Credit: @richarlison97 Richarlison had great faith in his dream of cracking professional football, but the road was far from easy. “I moved back to my mum after my dad left the town when got a new job elsewhere. We were short on food. Mum obviously did not earn much money to feed me and my siblings. She worked hard to raise us, but there was always something missing.” As the oldest boy - he has two younger brothers and two older sisters - Richarlison rolled up his sleeves and began selling ice cream on the streets of Nova Venecia. "We had flavours like condensed milk, grape, chocolate - that kind of thing. It was 20p per ice cream. Then, when I was living with my aunt, I also sold homemade chocolate." How much was that? "More - 25p! Half of the money was mine, and I used to put it in a piggy bank which I opened at the end of the year." Determination has been a feature of Richarlison's life. At 16, he was rejected by Brazilian clubs Avai and then Figueirense, a decision which prompted him to break down in tears. "I thought about giving up, but the people from my city told me to keep going because they saw me as a talented boy," he remembers.  Richarlison celebrates winning his controversial penalty against Arsenal Credit: Action Images via Reuters It was sound advice. He was duly offered a chance at America-MG's youth academy, 350 miles away from his home, in the city of Belo Horizonte and the alma mater of Arsenal's 'Invincible' Gilberto Silva. He literally could not afford to fail. “A friend of mine paid the 12-hour bus journey, but I was hungry and spent the money that was supposed to be for my way back," he said. "I was penniless. I could not be rejected again.” Since then, his rise has been extraordinarily quick. He helped America-MG secure promotion to the Brazilian top flight, scoring nine goals, which was enough to attract the attention of Fluminense - a powerful draw for a player who used to emulate their former striker Fred's trademark dance after scoring.  Richarlison joined Fluminese to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Fred Credit: AP Impressing there, and at the under-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, ensured that Europe's elite came calling. Richarlison was ready to board a plane to Amsterdam to join Ajax when he received a phone call from England. It was Marco Silva, who told him he wanted him at Watford. “Everything was quite quick," he said. "I had told Ajax that I was going there, but Marco called me saying that he knew my potential. On top of that, Premier League football was my dream - I watched it with my uncle on TV and Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. So I did not think twice when I received the offer." Richarlison goes airborne in Watford's impressive comeback victory over Arsenal Credit:  Arsenal FC Nobody has regretted the move. The late comeback against Arsenal at Vicarage Road last week - prompted by Richarlison winning a controversial penalty, even if he was not punished by the retrospective diving committee - sealed a first home win against the north Londoners in 30 years, and they are now being discussed as the bolter that could upset the established big six.  No outfield player has played more minutes for Watford this season, and only three in the whole division have had more shots. He has three goals to his name already and is fast becoming a recurring feature of highlights reels courtesy of his quicksilver feet and exquisite balance.  “I almost cried after the first goal I scored [against Bournemouth]," he said. "It was very emotional. After the second [at West Brom], which came in the 90th minute, I took off my shirt. Troy Deeney told me in the dressing room that I would be fined because of that. That is all right, it was worth it.” Another laugh. Richarlison takes his shirt off after scoring against Swansea: 'I was fined, but it was worth it' Credit: Getty Images He has been helped to settle by the fiercely collegiate atmosphere fostered by Silva at Vicarage Road - his compatriot, Heurelho Gomes, gives him a lift to training every morning and helped him find a place to live in the north of the capital, after he lost five kilograms in weight staying at a hotel where the only food he could tolerate was hamburgers.  The club's fans have been equally welcoming, and he already has a bespoke chant in his honour. “When I first listened to it, I even started watching the supporters from the pitch in order to try to understand what they were singing," he says. "I remember that I smiled when I realised it was for me. It is the first time I've heard a song dedicated to me. This is priceless.” He is taking English classes three times a week, but there is no shortage of Brazilians close at hand to provide some creature comforts. A trip to Paris led to an encounter with Neymar, who had just signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona - "We took a picture and he even asked if he could help me regarding my new life in Europe - it made my day" - and then there is London's thriving Brazilian football expats.   Richarlison met with Neymar shortly after signing for Watford Credit: richarlison.9 / Instagram “I go quite often to David Luiz’s house, and Willian usually joins us, as they are close friends," he says. "We have a barbecue, play video games, and we cannot live without samba. David told me that I can score against everybody but Chelsea." A pause, and then one more chuckle. "I said that I have to beat all of them.”

Valverde scherzt: "Hoffe auf 200 Messi-Tore"

Für den FC Barcelona sieht es in der Champions League mit drei Siegen gut aus. Angesprochen auf Lionel Messi äußert Barca-Trainer Ernesto Valverde einen ziemlich utopischen Wunsch.

Valverde scherzt: "Hoffe auf 200 Messi-Tore"

Für den FC Barcelona sieht es in der Champions League mit drei Siegen gut aus. Angesprochen auf Lionel Messi äußert Barca-Trainer Ernesto Valverde einen ziemlich utopischen Wunsch.

Valverde scherzt: "Hoffe auf 200 Messi-Tore"

Für den FC Barcelona sieht es in der Champions League mit drei Siegen gut aus. Angesprochen auf Lionel Messi äußert Barca-Trainer Ernesto Valverde einen ziemlich utopischen Wunsch.

Valverde scherzt: "Hoffe auf 200 Messi-Tore"

Für den FC Barcelona sieht es in der Champions League mit drei Siegen gut aus. Angesprochen auf Lionel Messi äußert Barca-Trainer Ernesto Valverde einen ziemlich utopischen Wunsch.

Valverde scherzt: "Hoffe auf 200 Messi-Tore"

Für den FC Barcelona sieht es in der Champions League mit drei Siegen gut aus. Angesprochen auf Lionel Messi äußert Barca-Trainer Ernesto Valverde einen ziemlich utopischen Wunsch.

Valverde scherzt: "Hoffe auf 200 Messi-Tore"

Für den FC Barcelona sieht es in der Champions League mit drei Siegen gut aus. Angesprochen auf Lionel Messi äußert Barca-Trainer Ernesto Valverde einen ziemlich utopischen Wunsch.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi kicks the ball to score during the group D Champions League soccer match between FC Barcelona and Olympiakos at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

The Top Five All-Time Goalscorers In European Competition

Lionel Messi hit his 100th goal in all European competitions on Wednesday night, but where does he rank among the top five goalscorers of all-time?

The Top Five All-Time Goalscorers In European Competition

Lionel Messi hit his 100th goal in all European competitions on Wednesday night, but where does he rank among the top five goalscorers of all-time?

The Top Five All-Time Goalscorers In European Competition

Lionel Messi hit his 100th goal in all European competitions on Wednesday night, but where does he rank among the top five goalscorers of all-time?

The Top Five All-Time Goalscorers In European Competition

Lionel Messi hit his 100th goal in all European competitions on Wednesday night, but where does he rank among the top five goalscorers of all-time?

Revealed: The top five all-time scorers in European competition

Lionel Messi hit his 100th goal in all European competitions on Wednesday night, but where does he rank among the top five goalscorers of all-time?

Cristiano Ronaldo é o esportista europeu mais bem pago do mundo

Atacante do Real Madrid é a segunda celebridade europeia mais bem paga do mundo, ficando atrás apenas da autora da saga Harry Potter

Cristiano Ronaldo é o esportista europeu mais bem pago do mundo

Atacante do Real Madrid é a segunda celebridade europeia mais bem paga do mundo, ficando atrás apenas da autora da saga Harry Potter

Cristiano Ronaldo é o esportista europeu mais bem pago do mundo

Atacante do Real Madrid é a segunda celebridade europeia mais bem paga do mundo, ficando atrás apenas da autora da saga Harry Potter

El positivismo de Messi en las Eliminatorias: "Fue el primero en decir que quedaba una bala más"

Germán Pezzella reveló el pensamiento del capitán argentino luego del empate ante Perú, que lo dejaba momentáneamente fuera del Mundial.

El positivismo de Messi en las Eliminatorias: "Fue el primero en decir que quedaba una bala más"

Germán Pezzella reveló el pensamiento del capitán argentino luego del empate ante Perú, que lo dejaba momentáneamente fuera del Mundial.

Italy striker Zaza behind Valencia's surprising run in Spain

FILE - In this Wednesday, June 22, 2016 file photo, Italy's Simone Zaza goes for the ball during the Euro 2016 Group E soccer match between Italy and Ireland at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d'Ascq, near Lille, France. Valencia chose to acquire the Italian striker after his loan from Juventus expired last season and he has been crucial in the team's surprising run to the top of the Spanish league. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)

What is Cristiano Ronaldo's net worth and how much does the Real Madrid star earn?

The Portugal captain signed a new a deal with the European champions late last year and boasts a number of sponsorships and business ventures

"A primeira opção de Mbappé era o Barcelona", diz representante do clube

Após o brasileiro assinar com o PSG, jovem francês cogitou o clube catalão para atuar ao lado de Messi

"A primeira opção de Mbappé era o Barcelona", diz representante do clube

Após o brasileiro assinar com o PSG, jovem francês cogitou o clube catalão para atuar ao lado de Messi

"A primeira opção de Mbappé era o Barcelona", diz representante do clube

Após o brasileiro assinar com o PSG, jovem francês cogitou o clube catalão para atuar ao lado de Messi

Las figuras de Rusia 2018: Al-Sahlawi, el saudí que supera a Messi

En las Eliminatorias, el delantero jugó 14 partidos para que Arabia Saudita vuelva a disputar un Mundial tras 12 años: ¡metió 16 goles!

Las figuras de Rusia 2018: Al-Sahlawi, el saudí que supera a Messi

En las Eliminatorias, el delantero jugó 14 partidos para que Arabia Saudita vuelva a disputar un Mundial tras 12 años: ¡metió 16 goles!

Las figuras de Rusia 2018: Al-Sahlawi, el saudí que supera a Messi

En las Eliminatorias, el delantero jugó 14 partidos para que Arabia Saudita vuelva a disputar un Mundial tras 12 años: ¡metió 16 goles!

Las figuras de Rusia 2018: Al-Sahlawi, el saudí que supera a Messi

En las Eliminatorias, el delantero jugó 14 partidos para que Arabia Saudita vuelva a disputar un Mundial tras 12 años: ¡metió 16 goles!

Las figuras de Rusia 2018: Al-Sahlawi, el saudí que supera a Messi

En las Eliminatorias, el delantero jugó 14 partidos para que Arabia Saudita vuelva a disputar un Mundial tras 12 años: ¡metió 16 goles!

Las figuras de Rusia 2018: Al-Sahlawi, el saudí que supera a Messi

En las Eliminatorias, el delantero jugó 14 partidos para que Arabia Saudita vuelva a disputar un Mundial tras 12 años: ¡metió 16 goles!

Neymar apadrinha Mbappé: 'Espero fazer por ele o que Messi fez comigo'

(Foto: FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Cristiano Ronaldo loses Europe’s best-paid celebrity crown to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling

The Real Madrid star is ranked fifth on a global scale and is also the world's most renumerated sportsperson

Cristiano Ronaldo loses Europe’s best-paid celebrity crown to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling

The Real Madrid star is ranked fifth on a global scale and is also the world's most renumerated sportsperson

Cristiano Ronaldo loses Europe’s best-paid celebrity crown to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling

The Real Madrid star is ranked fifth on a global scale and is also the world's most renumerated sportsperson