first_imgBrazilian midfielder Paulinho has seen his fortunes make a massive turnaround in the past one or one and a half years.From playing in the Chinese Super League far away from his home, he is now at one of the biggest clubs in the world, featuring alongside one of the best players of all time.And to think of the fact that 12 months ago this entire turnaround was nowhere in the picture, is remarkable.During the prime of his career, Paulinho was playing at Guangzhou Evergrande in the Chinese Super League after having made a move to Asia from a difficult spell with Tottenham Hotspur.FULL FOOTBALL COVERAGEBut during Brazil’s friendly against Argentina in Melbourne, Messi made a stunning offer to him.”All of a sudden, Messi walks straight up to me, looks me in the eye, and says, ‘So… are we going to Barcelona or not?’,” 29-year-old recalled this week on www.theplayerstribune.com.”I thought maybe he was joking, like he was trying to mess with my head or something. But we were just playing a friendly… so maybe not?”Also read – FIFA World Cup 2018: Who plays who in the quarter-finalsIndeed, a few months later, Paulinho was on his way to Barcelona and in his first year at the club, he would go on to win the La Liga and the Copa del Rey further securing his spot in the Brazilian national team.If Messi is somewhere responsible for his move to Barcelona, it is Brazil’s coach Tite who resurrected his career from the dark.advertisementHard running and aggressive, Paulinho has played every game for the Selecao in Russia as Brazil have established themselves as favourites for a sixth world title heading into Friday’s quarter-final against Belgium in Kazan.An artisan box-to-box operator among the artists of the Brazil team, Paulinho has a knack of being in the right place at the right time, as he showed when he latched onto Philippe Coutinho’s through ball to score against Serbia.”One person who always believed in me was Tite,” Paulinho added.”I get emotional when I speak about Tite, because we are connected in a way that is about more than football.”There have been other dark days in Paulinho’s career – he almost quit the game as a teenager after being racially abused while playing in Lithuania and he suffered from depression when he was dropped at Spurs.The premature birth of his twin son and daughter at the end of last year has helped to put his footballing woes in perspective, however.”Football is full of ups and downs. It’s unpredictable. Going from China to Barcelona is incredible, but it’s not a miracle,” he said.”A miracle is when you come home from football, and no matter what the result was that day, your children look up at you, and their eyes say, ‘Ola, Papai’.”(With Reuters inputs)last_img

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