In football, nothing is certain. And nothing epitomises that more than the many failed wonderkids there are touted as the next Ronaldo, Messi, or even Lucio. Breno Vinicius Rodrigues Borges’, more simply known as Breno, life was one that was meant to be successful. At 18 years old, he was linked to Real Madrid and Chelsea. But eventually he chose to join Bayern Munich on the recommendation of their South American scout and Brazilian ex-forward Giovane Elber.
“He is an absolute talent, for his age, he is already world class. He is a strong header of the ball, has great pace and is very composed on the pitch.”Bayern’s former striker Giovane Elber, who works as the German team’s scout in South America and spotted the talented teenager.
Breno had the world of football at his feet, as Bayern had to beat off a host of big European clubs to sign the young centre-back, with AC Milan, Juventus, Fiorentina, and Real Madrid all expressing interest.
“We are very pleased to have signed such a young and hugely talented player,”said Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who desribed the Brazilian as a “star for the future”.
From being a potential football superstar to a convicted felon to finally becoming a coach, Breno’s story shows how unpredictable the life of a professional player can be.
The High Point of Hope:
Breno’s humble beginnings began in his homeland, Brazil, where people quickly noticed how good he was as a defender. In his debut season for São Paulo FC’s, he seamlessly fit into their first team squad at only 17 years old. He played 22 times in the heart of São Paulo’s defence as they won the Brazilian Serie A title in 2007.
Sampa finished the season with a 15-point gap over rival Santos and also conceded the fewest goals in the division. Breno was big, agile, and decent with his feet and head; he had everything a centre back needed at the time, seemingly checked all the boxes, and had the accolades to prove it. Alongside his winning medal at 17, he was awarded Serie A’s Best Newcomer Award. Not only that, he was a Brazil U-20 international and captain of his country’s Olympic football team.
Breno was outstanding in his debut campaign for Sao Paulo. A very classy defender who can man mark or play as the spare man, and can bring the ball out with great assurance. He did have the benefit of slotting into a very good team with a well defined defensive system, and I also think he should have stayed a few months to pick up experience in the Libertadores. But there’s no doubt that he’s a wonderful prospect.Tim Vickery speaking of Breno before the transfer
Bayern Munich paid €12.3 million for him in 2007 because they saw massive potential in the Brazilian. Breno, who was only 18 years old at the time of signing, was on course to become not only a great football player but potentially one of the greats.
Unstable Times of Change for Breno:
Early on in his career at Bayern, it went well. He made his Bundesliga debut and his Champions League debut as his career continued on an upward trajectory. Breno was part of Brazil’s squad for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He and his teammates battled their way to a bronze medal in China.
But this was when it all began to fall apart. Things started to go badly for Breno. His dream move began to turn into a nightmare. He was left alone without his family and grew homesick because they couldn’t get visas. He struggled with the language, struggled to integrate into society, and had to deal with limited playing time under Jurgen Klinsmann and Louis van Gaal. The fee and expectations weighed heavily on him, and he wasn’t given the opportunity to prove himself and establish himself on the side.
Breno was sent on loan to newly promoted Nuremberg in January 2010, in what should have been a move to kickstart his career. Breno had a promising start to his time at the club and made eight appearances, but unfortunately succumbed to a cruciate ligament injury, which ruled him out for eight months.
A Fall into Darkness:
On September 19th, 2011, Breno was informed that he would need a third surgery on his knee. He feared his career was over, he was lost, and spiralled into a bout of depression and alcoholism. Five days later, it got worse. When the fire department arrived, they found Breno drunk, holding three lighters in his hand. The experts were convinced that the fire did not start by accident.
On September 24, 2011, Breno’s life fell apart. He was arrested for suspected arson after his villa was almost completely destroyed. Breno torched his rented family home in Gruenwald, Munich, which he shared with his wife and kids, and was subsequently arrested, charged, and imprisoned after being freed on bail. His charge was aggravated arson, and in April 2012, he was given a prison term of three years and nine months.
A Glimmer of Hope in the Ruins:
Even though he was in jail, São Paulo signed Breno as a player for the 2013 season. Sao Paulo said on their website on Thursday night that the contract is to give the 23-year-old player and his family “security, stability, and, above all, a perspective.”
With his life being flipped upside down after going through a mental health crisis, this gave Breno hope when things were bad. Many people were shocked when, in August 2013, Bayern Munich offered Breno a job as a trainer for their under-23 team. This gave him day release from Stadelheim Prison.
‘This time spent in prison, these 13 months, have been hard, I have changed as a person and I have learned a lot in there. I am happy to be given this chance by Bayern.’Breno on the opportunity to work as an assistant coach to the under-23 team
Breno worked five hours a day as an assistant coach for the under-23 team and returned to prison each afternoon.
‘Breno is a member of the big Bayern family, who once had problems,’
‘Now there is a glimmer of hope and we want to give it to him,’ he added.Said club president Uli Hoeness
Return to Professional Football
Breno moved back to Brazil after his release from prison and joined his old club, Sao Paolo.
“They supported me from the start. The welcome they gave me was sensational. Everyone has been so warm.”Bren told Globo upon re-signing for the club.
After coming on in the 59th minute for Sao Paolo against Corinthians in a 1-1 draw, he spoke about his time in Germany.
“Anyone who knows me knows how hard it was with all that I have lived through in Germany. But I had to set my mind to give in everything to exploit every opportunity. Today is undoubtedly a very happy day.”Breno on his second debut for the club
His second spell wasn’t as successful as the first. He only made a grand total of 13 appearances before being loaned to Vasco de Gama, whom he eventually sued due to injuries he received at the club. He retired due to injuries in 2019.
Thoughts on a Career Interrupted:
Breno’s story is a reminder of how short-lived sports success is and how hard it can be for players to deal with their mental health. His story of going from being a wonderkid with a lot of promise to a convicted felon shows how important it is for young athletes to have support and guidance.
Breno’s story is unique, and in some ways, he is lucky. Bayern Munich and Sao Paolo should be proud of their support for the troubled man that is Breno Borges.
Nowadays, Breno has retired; he is living his life as a family man with Renata, his wife, and his four children, mostly out of the spotlight. Breno hasn’t posted on social media since 2020, but his most recent action was liking this post on October 14, 2022. Oops.