Thirteen years ago, Brazilian football was ready for the rise of Lulinha. With almost 300 goals for Corinthian’s academy, the wonderkid was ready to show his skills in professional football.
His story is told today by UOL, who’s managed to interview the 29-year-old, now playing for Japanese second division side Jubilo Iwata.
Revealing a few more details about his past this time, Lulinha has claimed he had an offer to join Manchester United back when he was a teenager.
When asked if he’d have taken a different decision in hindsight, he explained: “These are decisions. There is no way to say ‘I would do this, that’, time will not go back. There was a decision that, if I could go back, maybe I would take it in a different way.
“I remember that I had a very good competition in the Nike Cup, there were always scouts from big clubs, moreover, the champion would travel to England… And I remember that the director of Manchester came to my house, because at the time I had neither an academy nor a professional contract, and he he went there so we could make a transfer to Manchester. Then I’d stay on that situation, I’d stay there for a while and come back here, because I was a minor – I was 15. But then I would have to leave Corinthians, because they didn’t do this exchange, and I would have to go to São Paulo.”
“He said: ‘We put you at São Paulo and, every three months, you go to Manchester, train with them, come back here, compete in the competitions for São Paulo, until you turn 18 and stay permanently’, just like it was with Fábio and Rafael, who were even in the youth national team team with me, when they were at Fluminense, and at the age of 18 they stayed permanently.
“Maybe this decision I would’ve taken differently, because at the time I remember very well that I said: ‘Wow, I don’t want to go to São Paulo’, because I was at Corinthians and had this rivalry with São Paulo, from the academy, and I said: ‘Wow, I have to go for São Paulo, with the boys I always play against, it won’t happen’, and then I made the decision not to go. And it was also a dream that I had, right? I’ve been working hard my whole life since I was 7 years old at Corinthians and am I going out and not playing for the professionals? These are decisions that we make, and I ended up making that decision, together with my family, to stay.”
Manchester United weren’t the only Premier League side who were interested in signing him at that time. He’s been heavily linked to Chelsea, and also revealed an offer from Tottenham Hotspur, which was confirmed by his agent not long ago.
During his time at Corinthians, Lulinha was loaned to Estoril and Olhanenese from Portugal and Bahia from Brazil. At the end of the contract, he was released and signed for Ceará.
He later played for Criciúma, Red Bull Brasil, Botafogo and Mogi Mirim in Brazil, Pohang Steelers in South Korea, Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Pafos in Cyprus and finally Jubilo Iwata in Japan.