Brazil-born player makes unlikely trip to Olympics
Renan Bressan didn’t see this one coming as he was growing up in
Brazil with dreams of becoming a soccer star.
He never could have thought that he would be playing in the
Olympics, or imagined that he would be defending the colors of a
country like Belarus.
The idea would have seemed even more absurd after doctors told
him that he probably wouldn’t play again following a
life-threatening injury caused by an elbow to his head during
practice as a teenager. Or when his career nearly ended a few years
later because an agent lied to him and forced him into a bad
Things turned out just fine for the 23-year-old Bressan, though,
who found a way to make it in soccer and is at the London Games
trying to lead Belarus to the second round of the men’s
Bressan is the man in charge of the Belarus midfield and has
been one of the team’s best players in the first two matches. He
scored the early goal against the Brazilians on Sunday in
Manchester, when Belarus held the gold-medal favorites to a 1-1
draw until the 65th minute before eventually losing 3-1.
”We were not happy with the result, but that was a special day
for me,” Bressan told The Associated Press. ”To get my first goal
like that, against the Brazilians, it was something else. It really
meant a lot to me to be playing on the same stage as all of those
guys. I didn’t expect this to be happening in my career.”
Belarus remains in good position to reach the quarterfinals
despite the loss. A draw against Egypt in the last group match on
Sunday will be enough if Brazil doesn’t lose to New Zealand.
Belarus has three points in Group C, three less than Brazil and two
more than Egypt and New Zealand. The top two teams from each of the
four groups advance.
Bressan said he is confident Belarus will make it through to the
second round. But it wasn’t long ago that he had doubts about
whether he would even be playing.
The talented midfielder was born in southern Brazil and began
playing at an early age, joining the youth squads of his hometown
club Atletico Tubarao. But he was only 15 when a freak injury
nearly put an end to his career before it even had a chance to take
Bressan was going for a high ball in a training session when one
of his teammate hit him with an elbow to the side of the head.
Bressan passed out right there and had to be taken to a hospital.
He had a blood clot and doctors said his life was in danger. They
also said that if he needed to undergo surgery he would not be able
to play soccer again.
”I spent a month in the hospital and another month at home
resting,” he said. ”I couldn’t play again for for months and even
today I’m a bit afraid to head the ball.”
He said it was even more special that his goal against Brazil on
Sunday came off a header, something that hadn’t happened in a long
Bressan was doing well with his career after the injury scare
but was still looking for a big break. He thought he had one in
2006 when his agent called and said Corinthians, one of Brazil’s
most popular clubs, wanted to sign him.
At the time he was already negotiating with Atletico Paranaense,
which also plays in Brazil’s first division but is not as
traditional, so he couldn’t pass on the chance to move to
He ended negotiations with Atletico Paranaense and went to Sao
Paulo, but when he got there he found out that there was no deal to
sign him. His agent had lied to him. It was only a test Corinthians
was making with several players and Bressan spent only three days
with the club before being turned away.
”The agent said I was going to get there to play, making a lot
of money, but that was not the case at all,” he said. ”It was
tough, but it’s in the past now. I learned from it, it’s part of
Things looked grim for the youngster until a city councilman
brought a Russian scout to his hometown and introduced Bressan to
A few months later he was making his move to Belarus, joining
local club Gomel. In 2010 he transferred to bigger club BATE
Borisov, where he still plays.
Already at home in the country and even speaking the language,
Bressan earned citizenship and in the beginning of this year got
his first call to the national team. It was his big break.
”Things worked out in the end,” he said after the Brazil
match. ”Look at where I am now.”
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