Vinicius Junior: 24 hours in the life of the Real Madrid striker, after the last episode of racism
It was 11:30pm in Madrid and legs and brains were tired but Vinicius Jr He still finds energy to dance.
He danced through an already lost Atlético Madrid defense and danced in celebration of what followed: his 121st-minute goal to wrap up Real Madrid3-1 win at home Del Rey Cup Quarter-finals after extra time.
There was a smile on his face as his teammates gathered around him to celebrate and support.
The day is almost over but it started in really horrible conditions.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, a doll of Vinicius Junior was seen hanging from a bridge near Real Madrid’s training ground. A red and white banner for Atlético featured the accompanying message: “Madrid hates Real”. They were removed from the bridge later that day.
This was the latest episode of racist abuse Vinicius Jr. was subjected to in Spain.
here, the athlete It tells the story of a shameful day for Spanish football.
For Vinicius Junior, it looked like a special morning as the derby came at 9pm Madrid time.
Sitting in the passenger seat of a club-issued BMW with one of his closest confidants, he arrived at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground to gather with the rest of the squad. This is common practice for Real Madrid players on the morning of a match, as the team spends the day in their training complex alongside the coaching staff.
Just a few minutes later, Vinicius Jr. discovered on social media the dummy with his shirt, which was suspended from a bridge a few kilometers from the Real Madrid training ground.
The 22-year-old relied on staff from his agency, who shifted from exasperation and anger to trying to establish a sense of calm. They knew there was a game in a few hours in which the striker had to play – and play well.
Vinicius Junior did not change his usual preparation for the match in Valdebebas. Nor did Real Madrid contact him or his entourage.
when asked before the athleteOne player, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect relations, said the issue had not been discussed among the broader group. He said, “No, of course not.”
Instead, there were comments about the matter in smaller, more private circles. As expected, Real Madrid’s Brazilian players – Vinicius Junior’s closest friend in the dressing room – were watching him.
“Vinicius Jr was very calm. You have to protect the great players. We are with him.” Daniel Ceballos He said in the mixed area after Real Madrid won.
Meanwhile, friends and family were shocked to learn about the incident from social media and WhatsApp messages. They didn’t speak to Vinicius Jr – an unwritten rule from his side on match days to ensure the Brazilian stayed focused. But, given the time difference in Brazil, they could not have woken up to more bleak news.
“We always have to keep our heads up, but it’s hard to keep smiling,” said a member of Vinicius Jr.’s family. the athlete.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid were deciding how to defend their player after the photo went viral on social media. Although the internal reaction was a great outrage, they publicly resorted to a direct statement at around 3 pm (Spanish time).
The statement read: “Real Madrid C.F. would like to thank you for the support and expression of affection it received following the unfortunate and disgusting act of racism, xenophobia and hatred against our player Vinicius.
“We would like to express our strong condemnation of these actions, which are considered an assault on the basic rights and dignity of people, and which have nothing to do with the values represented by football and sports.
“Attacks like the one our player suffered, or those of any athlete, have no place in a society like ours.
Real Madrid is confident that those who participated in such a despicable act will be held accountable.
Before that, Atletico Madrid and league I did the same.
Atlético’s statement came at 1.38pm, condemning the “abhorrent and unacceptable” events that “shame society”. La Liga posted on its official Twitter account at 1:15 p.m. the call to “investigate the facts in search of the conviction of those responsible, and demand the most severe criminal penalties.”
La Liga president Javier Tebas went further when he tweeted at 2.04pm. “A message to those who hide out at night to commit hate crimes: We will track you down, we will get convictions, until they end up in jail, which is where you belong. Enough already!!!” he wrote.
It wasn’t enough for Vinicius Junior. The Brazilian is tired of statements and words and wants facts and justice to do his job. His entourage wants more protection from the authorities and Real Madrid in a hard-won battle like this.
The police quickly set out to investigate the facts to find the perpetrators. Frente Atlético, a hardline group of Atlético fans, denied responsibility on its official channels when it responded to a tweet from Spanish sports daily Marca blaming it for the incident.
“Amazing at the ability of some media outlets to attribute actions to our group and the free pub to lie and mislead. Let the pre-Derby campaign continue,” they wrote.
The ability of some media outlets to attribute actions to our group and free tape to lie and mislead is amazing. Let the pre-derby campaign continue… 🦌🦌🦌🦌 https://t.co/hv5u68J8fc
– Atlético Front (@FA82Oficial) January 26, 2023
More than 10 members of Vinicius Jr.’s family, friends and agency staff attended the Santiago Bernabeu stadium as usual for the derby match, without special or additional security measures being taken.
They saw 63,500 Real Madrid fans turned out to support their loved ones, but they didn’t know exactly what was in store at the stadium. On social media, a show of support was planned for the 20th minute, in appreciation of the Brazilian’s shirt number.
It was clear that Vinicius Jr. would be the main protagonist. When the listings were announced over the loudspeaker, his name was among the loudest cheers, although this had been the case for some time.
Just before kick-off, with the players waiting for the match to start, the stadium chanted “Vinicius, Vinicius…!”.
Vinicius Junior did not hide, and his first contribution was an attempt with the haste with which he lost the ball. His name is repeated again several times. But the moment of planned support in the 20th minute was a little lackluster, as Grada fans (an organized group of Real Madrid fans who always sit in the same area of the stadium) tried, in vain, to spread the word on the ground. . Alvaro MorataNor did Atlético’s opening goal in the 19th minute.
Vinicius Junior kept trying, but he lacked inspiration in front of goal. In the 49th minute, Ceballos asked him to calm down. Only then can he do what he wants. In the 54th minute, after neither the Brazilian nor Karim Benzema Vinicius Jr managed to connect through a Nacho Fernandez cross, asked the fans for more, and the fans duly responded.
He was the second most fouled Real Madrid player – four fouls compared to him Eduardo Camavingaeight. The attacker imposed several yellow cards, such as those shown Beautiful Mario In the 62nd minute. Then his compatriot Vinicius Jr Rodrigo He scored a stunning solo goal in the 79th minute to take the match into extra time.
That was when Vinicius Jr’s real impact was felt, from the 94th minute onwards. At that time, the attacker produced one of his fantasy moves, the dribbling in the past Stefan Savic And making a corner after shooting from a difficult angle. As Vinicius Jr. exhorted the crowd again, they regained their voices in appreciation: “Vini, Vini, Vini!”.
Just four minutes later, Vinicius Jr. and Savic met again. After a foul by Nahuel Molina on Vinicius Junior, Savic and the Brazilian clashed and both players were shown a yellow card. The Atletico center back was then booked again and sent off when Camavinga frustrated him after two minutes.
Then, as the first half approached extra time, Vinicius Jr.’s mistimed shot found its way to Benzema, who slotted home to give Madrid a 2-1 lead. The game was hot, and Angel Correa went looking for Vinicius Jr. during the break. The latter kept calm and Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti pulled his player away from the Argentine.
Vinicius Jr. doesn’t hide and keeps trying – and that was the case until the end. In extra time, in the 121st minute, he made it 3-1.
He picked up the ball in his own half, and escaped attention Axel WitselHermoso left it behind and produced a brilliant touch that sent Atlético defender Reinildo Mandava making its way past the goalkeeper. Jan Oblak.
It was Vinicius Junior’s first goal against Atlético and he celebrated it the only way he knew how: dancing, samba style, with the Bernabéu.
Ancelotti paid tribute to Vinicius Jr afterwards. “As usual, he played well in the match,” said the Real Madrid coach. “He was so excited and eager to get back to his fans. He played a very good game, he fought until the end. The goal was a reward for the great work he had done. What happened (earlier in the day) was very shameful, but he was focused on the game.”
For his part, Vinicius Jr. celebrated on social media by reclaiming the words on the banner attached to his doll that morning. “Vienna loves Madrid! There is only one! he wrote on Instagram, referring to both the banner (Madrid hates Real) and the chant of the Real Madrid fans (“Madrid, there is only one”).
Vienna vs Madrid 🤍 pic.twitter.com/qw9kfibpA9
– Vinnie Jr. (vinijr) January 26, 2023
Then he went home to sleep.
Today, just 24 hours after he learned of his latest racist attack, he was in Valdebebas for another training session at 11am.
None of this is expected to change his plans – he wants to continue playing well for Real Madrid while also raising awareness of racism as a prominent black player.
Vinicius Junior is more focused than ever on his future with Real, despite Thursday morning’s events.
Of course, there is a lot of anger, but Vienni is fond of Madrid (the city and the club), ”said one of the members of his entourage.
The main thing is to know where the criminals are. Vinicius Jr.’s face appears in the media every day, but when will the criminals’ faces and names appear? This is what we would like the press to do, this investigative work, so as not to say that Viennese is an agitator.
Everything is in the hands of the police now.
But it is worth remembering what happened when some Atletico fans sang racist chants about Vinicius Junior outside the Metropolitano stadium before a La Liga derby match last September. At the time, prosecutors did not file charges after determining the chants “continued for a few seconds.”
It remains to be seen if more can be done this time around.
(Top photo: Manu Reino/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)