Liverpool new boy Roberto Firmino had a perilous upbringing in Brazil... now £29m man is ready to light up Premier League

  • Roberto Firmino arrived at Liverpool from Hoffenheim in £29million move
  • Firmino has a number of tattoos on right arm and they tell their own story
  • The 23-year-old had a perilous upbringing in Maceio, north-east Brazil
  • Maceio features regularly on the list of the top 10 most dangerous cities 
  • Aspiring football agent Marcellus Portella believed in Firmino's potential 

The tattoos on Roberto Firmino’s right arm tell their own story. From the year of his birth, 1991, on his knuckles to the two portraits of his parents, there’ s also a red rose for love, a four-leaf clover for luck, and the symbol for peace. Above all, on the side of his neck, is a tribute to God.

Each, he would argue, has played its part in his journey from a perilous upbringing in Maceio, north-east Brazil, to Liverpool via the unusual halfway house of Hoffenheim.

After four-and-a-half years in the Bundesliga, Firmino considers himself ‘to be half Brazilian and half German on the pitch’.

Liverpool new boy Roberto Firmino came on as a substitute in Liverpool's 1-0 victory over Bournemouth

Liverpool new boy Roberto Firmino came on as a substitute in Liverpool's 1-0 victory over Bournemouth

Firmino had a perilous upbringing in Maceio, north-east Brazil and is ready to light up the Premier League 

Firmino had a perilous upbringing in Maceio, north-east Brazil and is ready to light up the Premier League 

It’s a quality that certainly appealed to Liverpool when chief executive Ian Ayre flew out to the Copa America in Chile this summer to tie up a £29million deal, and one that manager Brendan Rodgers is likely to call on at some stage of Monday's clash with Arsenal at the Emirates. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder has appeared off the bench in Liverpool’s opening two wins over Stoke and Bournemouth.

Firmino knows that his life could have worked out very differently, however. Maceio features regularly on the list of top 10 most dangerous cities on earth due to its high murder rate.

He only got out because family friend and aspiring football agent Marcellus Portella, then the dentist for his local team Clube de Regatas Brasil, believed in his potential and guided him to Figueirense following a rejection at Sao Paulo.

‘It wasn’t easy for me to reach this point in my career,’ admits Firmino. 'I come from a humble family and lived in a poor neighbourhood. It wasn’t a favela, it was a very simple, humble and sometimes dangerous neighbourhood like the rest of the city of Maceio.

Brazil international has a discussion with Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers during a training session

Brazil international has a discussion with Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers during a training session

‘My dad was the only one who worked when I was young, and he used to sell things like soft drinks and other things on the streets because it is a very hot city. I focused only on playing football because I wanted to have a career from my early days, and here I am after all of those hard years.

‘My friend was a dentist at the time but he wanted to be a football agent and I was his first opportunity. He’s not only my agent now but I was the start for him. I had a trial at Sao Paulo but it was more of a physical assessment and I didn’ t have a chance to play with the ball.

‘I had another assessment at Figueirense just one week later and I was accepted straightaway on my first day. I never doubted that I would make it.’

The 23-year-old has scored 30 goals for club and country in the last two years, adding 24 assists

The 23-year-old has scored 30 goals for club and country in the last two years, adding 24 assists

Firmino took his game to another level at Hoffenheim and was one of the new players drafted into Brazil’s squad after last summer’s World Cup debacle. He has scored 30 goals for club and country in the last two years, adding 24 assists.

The third Brazilian at Anfield after joining Philippe Coutinho and Luca Leiva, Firmino has much to be thankful for.

On the fingers of his left hand, another tattoo reads simply ‘Love Life’ and he’s certainly doing that. 

Firmino was one of the new players drafted into Brazil’s squad after last summer’s World Cup debacle

Firmino was one of the new players drafted into Brazil’s squad after last summer’s World Cup debacle

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