Prior to announcing himself as one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe at Hoffenheim (and then Liverpool), Roberto Firmino was plying his trade at second-tier Brazilian side Figueirense.
His agent, knowing it would be a significant step up to the Bundesliga, decided to give Bobby a bit of an advantage to help facilitate the move. According to an interview for World Soccer with Hoffenheim’s former sporting director Ernst Tanner, they were given a slightly sped-up video of Firmino in action.
“We’d got hold of a video of Firmino from an agent and it left us puzzled,” Tanner said. “In it, Firmino appeared to have a shot like an absolute rocket. But we knew he didn’t hit a ball like that in reality.
”The video had been speeded up. Every bit of play was that little bit quicker.”
Despite the obvious fraud, the German club pressed ahead in their scouting and recruitment of the future star.
“The boy was just a really good player. What impressed me most was his attitude.
”His coaches in Brazil did a tremendous job of preparing him. They used to criticise him a lot, but he never took it the wrong way. He’d come back for more, he wouldn’t be deterred.
”In training sessions with Figueirense, he worked like a man possessed. He was irresistable. He had a real never-say-die attitude. That was awesome.”
Then, as in now, Bobby’s greatest attributes are not his dribbling, shot, speed, vision (even with one eye), or movement, but his work rate and attitude. It is what has allowed him to continue developing as a professional, working his way up through the ranks from a second-tier Brazilian side to one of the top sides in Europe, and a full Brazilian international.