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Ex-Hoffenheim Sporting Director Recalls the Dressing-Down That Convinced Him to Sign Roberto Firmino

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Ernst Tanner was impressed by how the player took criticism.

Manchester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus

Back in 2010, when Roberto Firmino was playing for Figueirense, a team in the second tier of Brazilian football, ex-Hoffenheim sporting director Ernst Tanner hopped on a plane from Germany to Brazil (this was back when people still flew in planes) to see the newly crowned breakout star in action. The talent scout was only interested in the then-19-year-old forward, but the game Tanner watched barely featured him at all.

So what’s a man who’d traveled 7,000 miles to do but bribe a security in order to sneak into a closed training session and see for himself what all the fuss was about.

Tanner recalls the story to FourFourTwo, including how he watched Firmino get berated by the Figueirense manager, Marcio Goiano, in front of his teammates.

“He was so quick, he had balance, he could head the ball and he worked well defensively,” Tanner recalls. “In that one training session, I saw exactly what I wanted. I was convinced we had to sign him.”

However, Goiano, overseeing the pre-match training, had a different opinion.

“Firmino was the most criticised player in the whole squad,” continuesTanner. “The other players simply stood around laughing as the coach laid into him all afternoon. It looked as if he couldn’t do a thing right.”

Far from putting him off, Firmino’s reaction to the tough love impressed Tanner.

“Many younger players would have walked off the training pitch following that sort of treatment. But Firmino stuck it out. I liked that.”

It seems to be a common theme in Firmino’s career that time and time again, in Brazil, then Germany, and finally England, the player constantly has managers and coaching staff alike praising his work ethic and attitude. This intensity is also on clear display on the pitch, where he is consistently one of the hardest working and most selfless players Klopp has at his disposal.

His rise to the highest heights of world football has been a joy to watch as a Liverpool fan and a chaotic, looming threat to fans of any other team, and long may it continue.