The Brazilian version of The Player’s Tribute this week features a strong story with former West Bromwich Albion midfielder Matheus Pereira.

The 27-year-old recently returned to Brazil, where he’s playing at Cruzeiro, and talked about how hard his path was to become a professional footballer.

Pereira revealed that back in his early days in Portugal, he had a tough time with drugs and alcohol, until he realised he needed to change to become a professional.

He claims that his move to West Brom didn’t happen at such a great time, as he was convinced he could have a great season for Sporting when he was told he’d be joining the Baggies on a loan deal.

“They wanted to loan me. I collapsed again. That weight, that feeling that the world is against you, that difficulty breathing, that certainty that you’re useless. The achievements – and I had many, despite everything – meant nothing to me. I just sank. It’s no use: I’m this guy who keeps dripping from one side to the other and doesn’t get anywhere.

“I ended up playing in the second division, but in England. My new club was West Bromwich. Although it was yet another change, and I was fed up with them, I jumped at the chance. The project was very good – and financially too. There was a clause in the contract that obliged the club to buy me for a lot of money if I played 30 games or if the team went up to the Premier League. Both things happened. It was my best professional moment.”

Now even though he had a good time there, he explained that the years following his exit were awful.

I was afraid of what this new change would do to my head, but it was very good financially. I spoke to my wife and we decided to accept it. It didn’t take long for the psychological decline to reappear. There isn’t always a specific cause, I think it’s more the whole of a lifetime, but living in Riyadh, I missed my church.

“In West Bromwich we were part of a small Christian community and that strengthened me, I was supported. In Saudi Arabia, there was none.

“I also began to miss my parents and couldn’t find a way to get back in touch with them. Then one day I woke up and darkness had settled over my soul.”

Pereira left West Brom for Al-Hilal for €8.25m in 2020. There he also had a loan spell at Al-Wahda, and last summer agreed a return to Brazil on a spell at Cruzeiro.

He claims to be very happy to be back in Brazil, and is going through a contented moment in his personal life. His loan there expires in June, although they may trigger the buying option.