Do not sleep on Vinícius Júnior: A star in the making

Vinícius Júnior is currently considered one of the best players in the world, and for good reason. Vinícius has been making a name for himself playing for Real Madrid, scoring multiple goals and creating several goal-scoring opportunities for his teammates this season in La Liga.

The 23-year-old Brazilian began playing football in 2006, with encouragement from his father. He took futsal classes at Flamengo’s school in São Gonçalo, before deciding to move over to football full-time. The club noticed his potential, and in 2017, Vinícius had his debut game with Flamengo.

Career so far

In his early career, from 2005-2018, Vinícius played for Flamengo on youth teams. Alongside the Brazilian club, he also played for Brazil U15, U17, U20, and eventually the Brazilian national team.

He gained notoriety for his abilities, as well as his unique playstyle. Real Madrid took notice and signed the young forward in 2018 for 46 million euros, where he has gone on to score 65 goals for the club.

Style of play

After joining Real Madrid, ESPN journalist Dermot Corrigan described Vinícius as a “zippy left striker”. He is known for his acceleration, excellent pace, technique, agility, and his footwork with the ball.

Although he is right-footed, he can effectively play in any forward position, being able to perform as either a left or right winger or as a center forward.

He has expert awareness, and one of his greatest strengths is finding openings to assist his teammates. This ability does not mean he isn’t able to score himself, as he regularly creates and capitalizes on goal opportunities himself as well.

World cup appearances

24 March 2022 saw Vinícius make his debut goal for the national team, scoring the second goal for Brazil in a 4-0 win over Chile in their World Cup qualifying match.

In the group stage match against Croatia, he set up the second goal of the game by Richarlison, ensuring their team’s victory in that game.

He scored his first World Cup goal in Brazil’s 4-1 win against South Korea in the round of 16. He also set up a goal from Lucas Paquetá later that same game.

Activism against racism

During his time in Spain, Vinícius has unfortunately been met with racial slurs from spectators.

One of the most infamous instances of this occurred in early 2023 when an effigy of the player hanging from a bridge appeared in Madrid. Four members of Frente Atletico were later arrested.

During a league match in 2023, racial chants were yelled by Valencia supporters, leading to two fans being permanently banned.

Real Madrid later released an official statement strongly condemning the incident, and any actions similar to it. In June of that year, Vinícius was selected by FIFA president Gianni Infantino to lead an anti-racism committee, solidifying his place in the sport.

There was widespread public support for the star forward, with many fans supporting his stand against racism.

The future for Vinícius 

Over time, his skill set has continued to improve. The 2022/23 season has been one of his most successful yet, and it looks as though the 2023/24 season will end similarly to last year.

Those who play alongside Júnior say that he is hardworking, intelligent, and dedicated to his craft. With his commitment to always improving and getting better at his game, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the young star, and how far his career can take him.

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