Not all great talents get to play at the highest levels of the game, often it’s the luck of the draw and many concede defeat as the disappointment builds.
One player who dedicated his life to becoming a professional was a 24-year-old Brazilian footballer, and friend of mine, named Virgilio Souza de Andrade Pinto. You have probably never heard of him because he was yet to catch his big break, and unfortunately he will never be able to do so.
On Tuesday he tragically passed away in Chile due to a kidney problem which according to his brother is believed to have been mishandled medically, leading to his unexpected death.
Pinto’s talent and passion for football was evident from a young age and he was on the radar of many of South America’s biggest clubs as a youngster. At the age of 16 he was scouted by Boca Juniors and consequently moved to Buenos Aires, however, the move to a brand new environment at such a young age proved a great challenge and despite the club wanting to keep him with a vision to loan him out, his agent advised him against it, and false promises of a move to San Lorenzo at the end of the season convinced him to move back.
His next move took him to Guarani in Paraguay, a club that has seen the likes of legendary goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert and 65-time capped Julio Cesar Caceres play for them, but a lack of financial stability saw him return to brazil.
A stop at his hometown club Cabofriense came next, a team that has been promoted to and relegated from the Campeonato Carioca (Brazils’s top division) regularly over the past few years, however after the club offered no support when he got injured he decided it was time to move.
At the age of 20, he got his first profession contract at Potiguar de Parnamirim in a side that he at the time described as a team capable of winning the championship. The club didn’t reach their potential and he moved on.
During the next few years, he had stints at Paduano, Sao Pedro AC and Sul America, before he decided to move to England to have another stab at breaking through abroad.
The local newspaper of Sao Pedro released a heartwarming message following the news, describing Virgilio as someone “known for his fellowship and fun who always sought to achieve this goal of growing his career. He was a great athlete and friend of all. It is an irreparable loss”.
His most recent club Blackfield and Langley FC also commemorated their former player on social media: “Very saddened to learn of the passing of 24-year-old ex B&L player Virgilio Pinto yesterday in Chile. Virgilio made several appearances for both our 1st and reserve teams during the 2014/15 season before returning to South America. Thoughts are with his family and friends from all at B&LFC”.
Virgilio Pinto was known to everyone as an extremely happy, football mad player with great ambitions, he never gave up chasing his dream of making it on the highest level, but unfortunately, he’ll never get to experience what he deserved.
Here is a tribute to one of the less known footballers of our time, who still shouldn’t be forgotten.