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These are strange times… football fans across the world are being forced to go cold turkey, as the sporting world, like many other things, has ground to a necessary halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Discussions are taking place at the highest levels of the sport to try to work out a plan for the resumption of play, which may or may not see the domestic and European competitions reach their conclusions, decisions that may or may not result in the postponement of Euro 2020 this summer.
But people don’t suddenly stop thinking of the beautiful game - it’s impossible given that only a few weeks ago we seemed to have a match on every single night of the week to watch. So rest assured, we’ll be filling this downtime with some insightful and fact-filled pieces about the game we love, starting with this one… about famous footballing Brunos.
The fortunes of Manchester United have turned the corner in startling fashion since the addition of Bruno Miguel Borges Fernandes in the January transfer window, so let’s start with him.
Born in 1994 in Porto, Bruno’s ascent to superstardom wasn’t immediate. He played youth football at his local club Boavista - a mid-table Portuguese side living in the shadows of the city’s main club FC Porto. But before graduating to the first team, Bruno left the club, and the country, to join Italian side Novara, who were then in Serie B. A year later he moved on, and up, to join top flight club Udinese, spending three seasons in the far North East of Italy, as the club repeatedly battled to retain their Serie A status.
Then came another step up, and some recognition of his ability, with a move to Sampdoria, before a return to his home country in 2017 in an €8.5m deal with Sporting Lisbon - who obviously felt like they were getting a good deal given that they inserted a buyout clause of €100m. It was here that Bruno really began to look like the real deal - winning the Portuguese Player of the Year award, and getting international recognition. The attention of Manchester United, and others, was piqued, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got his man in January for an initial fee of €55m. In a world of inflated transfer fees, and based on the impact Bruno has made at Old Trafford so far, this looks like a fantastic deal for Manchester United - he has even been named Premier League Player of the Month for February - he only joined United on January 30th.
So what about other footballing Brunos? The one who immediately springs to mind is the combative Spanish full-back Bruno Saltor Grau, who played over 200 games for Brighton before retiring in 2019. Bruno became such a popular and influential figure at the Amex that he was invited to join the coaching staff after his playing career came to an end at the age of 38. Latterly known for his impressively bushy beard and shaved head - an image that struck fear into many a left-winger who came up against him - he retired as a club legend and fans favourite.
To complete this mini round-up of Brunos, we’re off to South America. The notoriety of this particular player - goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes das Dories de Souza - comes from his off the field behaviour rather than his ability between the sticks. It all started pretty well for Bruno, his performances in his native Brazil seeing him linked with possible moves to AC Milan and Barcelona, but it all unravelled in 2010 when his mistress disappeared. Bruno was arrested, and charged with murder, kidnapping and concealing a body. The victim’s remains were never found, and Bruno was sentenced to 22 years in jail. Less than 7 years later, he was released from prison, and joined Boa Esporte - prompting a number of the club’s sponsors to withdraw as a result. The player showed little sign of contrition, telling reporters: “Dude, what happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”
Unfortunately for this dude, he was rearrested in 2017 and his football career would seem to be over.
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