This article ventures into Vinicius Junior’s life and career, exploring his unique style of play, financial journey, personal relationships, early life, and noteworthy trivia. Hailing from a place of financial struggle, Vinicius, born in São Gonçalo, Brazil, found solace and passion in football’s embrace. His familial bond and support from Flamengo paved the way for a remarkable career, leading to Real Madrid’s illustrious stage.
From navigating hardships to thriving on the pitch, Vinicius’ story is a blend of determination, skill, and heart. Discover the intriguing layers of this rising star’s life, both on and off the field.
Poverty and early struggles
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Vinicius José Paixão de Oliveira Júnior, born on July 12, 2000, in São Gonçalo, Brazil, emerged from humble beginnings, his family grappling with financial hardships. Growing up in a rundown suburb, Vinicius navigated a challenging environment where making ends meet wasn’t easy for his parents, Vinicius Sr. and Tatiana Vinicius. With an upbringing that comprised limited means but abundant love, his uncle Ulysses became a pivotal support in his journey. Recalling his early days, Vinicius revealed,
“I was always playing with my friends on the street, and the reasons I would only go home were to play FIFA, eat, or sleep.”
His passion for football sparked in São Gonçalo, where he honed his skills on the streets, deeply inspired by Robinho’s iconic ‘chapeau’ move. Financial constraints led to a move closer to his futsal training ground, underscoring the family’s sacrifices for his dream. Rising swiftly through the ranks, Vinicius’s talent caught Flamengo’s eye, marking the inception of his remarkable footballing odyssey.
“His family did the rest with regards to transport above all when he started in the academy,” stated Carlos Eduardo Abrantes, director of the Escolinha de Flamengo. “His parents got him everything; they are so important in his career.”
Vinicius’ journey was paved with familial support amidst financial strains, as shared by Abrantes in an interview with AS,
“His mother took him to training and looked after those things. We got him a school bag to bring to training because they had financial difficulties. We helped him where we could.”
Early Career & Move to Real Madrid
Vinícius Junior’s football journey began in 2006 when his father introduced him to Flamengo’s offices in São Gonçalo, initially labeled as a left-back despite his budding attacking prowess. Financial constraints led Vinícius to reside with his uncle, Ulisses, in Abolição, allowing closer proximity to Flamengo’s training grounds. Supported by financial aid from the club and local entrepreneurs, Vinícius navigated futsal classes and trials, eventually earning his spot at Flamengo in August 2010.
The defining moment emerged in 2017 when Vinícius made his professional debut for Flamengo, extending his contract amid expectations of European interest. His brilliance shone at the 2017 South American U-17 Championship, where he netted seven goals, securing both the tournament’s top scorer and best player accolades.
European powerhouses, particularly Barcelona and Real Madrid, vied for his signature. Initially courted by Barcelona due to his admiration for the club, Vinícius ultimately opted for Real Madrid, sealing a €46 million deal. Despite swirling rumors suggesting familial influence on his choice, Vinícius’ uncle affirmed his nephew’s independent decision, reinforcing Vinícius’ eagerness to join Real Madrid, a sentiment echoed by compatriots Casemiro and Marcelo.
This pivotal move, deferred until July 2018 to further hone his skills at Flamengo, marked the culmination of Vinícius Junior’s early career and ignited the European dream that propelled him to the illustrious realm of Real Madrid, solidifying his status as a rising star in world football.
Who is Vinicius’ mentor?
In the midst of a crucial Champions League match between Borussia Monchengladbach and Real Madrid, an unexpected moment unfolded. Cameras caught Karim Benzema advising Ferland Mendy not to pass to Vinicius, causing a stir. But what seemed like a rift turned into a turning point. The next day, Benzema sought out the devastated Vinicius, transforming a crisis into a bond. Over 561 days, their partnership burgeoned, becoming an unstoppable force in Spanish and European football.
Benzema, aiming for the Ballon d’Or, and Vinicius, blossoming with 21 goals and 20 assists, crafted a formidable duo. Yet, it wasn’t just about goals and assists. Benzema’s mentorship was the real game-changer. From that moment of tension emerged a teacher-student bond. Vinicius learned more than just scoring; he imbibed the art of composure, thanks to Benzema’s seasoned guidance.
This unexpected twist in their relationship propelled Vinicius’ growth. It was a transformation—from a discordant note to a mentoring symphony. Benzema, the footballing genius, not only found the net but also found a way to guide Vinicius. His tutelage sculpted Vinicius’ attacking flair into a composed, goal-hungry mindset. The story isn’t just about matches and goals; it’s about how a mentor like Benzema shaped Vinicius’ journey to become a force of his own in the footballing world.
Vinicius Junior shares a special bond with Maria Julia Mazalli, his girlfriend since 2019. Despite keeping their early connection private, hints of their relationship slipped through social media. Their Instagram interactions, like leaving heart emojis and sharing similar bathroom backgrounds, stirred speculation among fans. Eventually, their relationship became public after a report surfaced about them sharing the same bathroom in separate pictures.
Maria, an Instagram model and reality TV star, gained fame from her stint on De Férias com o Ex. With a five-year age gap, Maria, at 28, is older than Vinicius, who’s 23. Although they haven’t announced plans for marriage, Maria’s constant presence in the stands, cheering for Vinicius during Real Madrid and Brazil matches, underscores their strong bond. Their social media posts together reflect their shared moments, offering glimpses of their growing relationship to their followers.
Vinicius Junior Net Worth
Vinicius Junior’s rise from Flamengo to Real Madrid has seen his net worth soar, standing at an impressive £18 million (around $20 million) as of 2023. This remarkable sum stems mainly from his association with Real Madrid, ranking him among the club’s top earners, a testament to his immense value.
His weekly earnings at Real Madrid stand at £343,000, translating to an annual income of approximately £17 million. The Brazilian forward’s contract, expiring in June 2024, holds the promise of a rewarding extension.
Beyond his salary, Vinicius Jr is poised for substantial future earnings, with £35 million yet to be earned from his current contract. Moreover, his contract includes a staggering release clause of £858 million, deterring potential suitors.
While enjoying an endorsement deal with Nike, recent reports hint at a potential rift, possibly leading to an early exit from the contract. This development has sparked interest from other sporting giants like Puma and Adidas, both known for their iconic brands. Vinicius Jr’s partnerships with Red Bull and TCL Mobile further enriched his commercial portfolio.
As his current deal approaches its end, Real Madrid is expected to offer him an even more lucrative contract, acknowledging his talent and potential. Vinicius Jr’s financial prospects remain robust, highlighting his ascent as one of football’s most promising young stars.
Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s impactful work, Vinicius Jr initiated the Instituto Vini Jr in Brazil. This organization aims to bridge educational gaps using technology and sports, fostering equality. The institute introduced “Base,” an educational app leveraging football to engage youngsters. Initially launched in Rio, it plans wider outreach in the coming year. Vinicius, the sole investor, contributed approximately £1.5 million from his funds to kickstart this noble initiative. Through Instituto Vini Jr and its innovative app, Vinicius Jr strives to empower and educate the youth, envisioning a more equitable future for Brazil.
Style of Play
Vinícius Jr’s playing style embodies versatility and dynamism. Often stationed as a left winger or second striker, he exhibits remarkable agility, acceleration, and balance. Renowned for his exceptional dribbling skills and swift changes of direction, he adeptly navigates past defenders in one-on-one situations. Despite a slight frame, he possesses notable power and technical finesse, enabling precise ball control at high speeds.
Primarily recognized for his creative flair and vision, Vinícius displays intelligence in his movement, delivering key passes and assists. However, early criticisms highlighted his penchant for individual play over teamwork, a trait he gradually evolved during his tenure with Real Madrid.
His breakthrough season in 2021-2022 saw an exponential rise in both goal-scoring and assists, forging a formidable partnership with Karim Benzema. This evolution showcased improvements in his composure, tactical awareness, and finishing abilities, earning accolades and comparisons to fellow countryman Neymar.
Notably, his defensive contributions and refined game temperament drew praise from manager Carlo Ancelotti. Such growth positioned Vinícius Jr as a promising talent in world football, earning recognition from peers and analysts alike for his evolving prowess on the pitch.
Trivia and Fun Facts
- Vinicius Jr. is an avid NBA enthusiast, often spotted attending live games to cheer for his favorite teams.
- His top movie pick is “The Karate Kid,” featuring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, reflecting his diverse entertainment interests.
- Vinicius made a heartfelt pledge to his father that he’ll eventually return to Flamengo, the club that holds a special place in his heart.
- He secured a place in history by becoming the youngest foreign player to score in El Clasico, surpassing the record previously held by Lionel Messi.