Manchester United forward Antony has opened up on the traumatic experiences he encountered as a child in Brazil.
The 22-year-old is currently gearing up for the World Cup in Qatar which kicks-off on November 20.
Antony, who joined United in the summer from Ajax in a £86million move, grew up in a favela outside the city of Osasco in Sao Paolo state.
The Brazil international had to overcome difficult conditions growing up, with violence and death common.
“On my walk to school one morning, when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, I came across a man laying in the alley. He was not moving,” he told The Players’ Tribune.
When I got closer, I realised he was dead. In the favela, you become kind of numb to these things. There was no other way to go, and I had to get to school. So I just closed my eyes and jumped over the dead body.”
Antony has had a bright start to life at Old Trafford, netting three goals in six matches since joining the club.
I went from the slums to Ajax to Manchester United in three years,” he added.
People always ask me how I was able to “turn the key” so quickly. Honestly, it is because I feel no pressure on a football pitch. No fear. Fear? What is fear?
“When you grow up having to jump over dead bodies just to make it to school, you cannot be scared of anything in football. The things that I have seen, most football pundits can only imagine. There are things you cannot unsee.”
“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,” added Antony.
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***.
“With a ball at my feet, I had no fear.”