At the high end, Football is a lucrative sport that can open up a whole new world. Without it, many top footballers would of had a very different life, had they not had the talent and openings that have allowed them to follow their dreams. But for Filipe Melo football has more meaning, saving him from becoming a murderer.
Speaking to Sky Italia he admitted: “It was football that was instrumental to me. Had I not become a footballer, I would have become a murderer.”
The Inter midfielder managed to escape the clutches of crime in the shanty town of Volta Redonda in the Rio de Janeiro state of Brazil, where the 32-year-old grew up and where drugs and gangs were part of everyday life.
“I grew up in one of the most dangerous favelas around. There were a lot of drugs and weapons around,” he said.
“Sometimes I went to training and then when I got back one of my friends had died. I had to choose between football and a life of crime.
“Thankfully I was able to escape all that and pursue my dream. I chose football and a different life.”
Melo began his career with the Brazilian club Flamengo at the age of eighteen where he stayed for two years. From there he joined a number of clubs before signing for Fiorentina in 2008. He’s also made 22 appearances for Brazil national team.
It was whilst he played in the 2009 Confederations Cup that Arsenal showed an interest in him before Juventus snapped him up for £19million.
His world now bears no resemblance to the world that surrounded him when growing up.
“My father often had to work double shifts to keep us going and I had to make a lot of sacrifices.
“Only recently have I started to realise how important those sacrifices were. I would not have been where I am now without them.
“My father was very important to me, but my wife and kids are also very important to me. God comes first for me and then my family.”