When I was eight, I moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil (from Cuiaba, Brazil) where I began to play soccer (football). I have always loved to play soccer.
I played on the Junior Team for Sao Paulo in 2000. We were in the middle of the Paulista Junior Championships when I received a yellow card. I was suspended for the following game, so I took advantage of the free weekend to visit my grandparents, who lived in Caldas Novas at the time.
My brother, my parents, my grandparents and I went to a water park. As I was coming down one of the slides into the pool, I hit my head on the bottom of the pool and my neck snapped. I fractured the sixth vertebra in my neck. At the time, I had no idea what happened.
I returned to Sao Paulo to train on Monday, as well as on Tuesday, all the while with a broken neck. On Tuesday, I called the coach and the physical trainer and told them that I couldn't bear the pain any longer. They sent me to see a doctor at the hospital where they took another x-ray. It was in this x-ray that the fracture in the sixth vertebra was shown. Everyone, including the doctors, told me I was very lucky that nothing more serious happened. They told me that I could have become paralyzed and lost my ability to walk and to play soccer. I believe it was not luck. I believe God was protecting me during that time from anything more serious.
Many people think that I became a Christian after the accident, but that is not true. My parents are Christians and they raised me with biblical values. The accident happened in October of 2000 while I was playing in the "base" position on the Sao Paulo junior team. Throughout November and December, I had to wear a cervical collar and could not play.
I began to play again in January of 2001, and after about 10 or 15 days, I was called to play for the Sao Paulo professional team. Because of this, I believe God had a purpose in that accident. It is something that happened just before I had the great blessing of starring as a professional in Sao Paulo and initiating my career as a professional soccer player.
As I said before, my parents always taught me the Bible and its values, and also about Jesus Christ and faith. I did not have a specific conversion experience, but little by little, I stopped simply hearing people talk about the Jesus my parents taught me [about], and there came a time when I wanted to live my own experiences with God. One of these experiences with God was when I was baptized at the age of 12. This was a very important step in my walk with Jesus and soon after many things began to happen in my life where I could experience God in a real way.
I need Jesus every day of my life. Jesus tells me in the Bible that without Him I can't do anything. I have the gift and capacity today to play soccer because God gave it to me. The day He wants me to do something else, I will do that something else and this is why I need Jesus in my life every day. I am successful in my financial life and in my professional life, but all this has come from God and is a gift of grace from Him for my life. All that I have, I thank Him for.
The difference Jesus makes in my life is that I know I will always have victory, I will always have joy, and I will always have success. This is independent of the situations I face or will face. This brings me great peace.
I usually tell the people who ask, that the Bible is like the user's manual that comes when you buy a product. It has everything we need in it. It makes me happy to read the Bible every day, to study it and to be in fellowship with God and learn more and more about Jesus.
I will win many matches and I will lose many matches, but I know that in all of them, God has a plan. This is why I try to understand the plan of God for me in each moment so that I can have peace during times of pressure.
Everyone wants to be a winner, but for me, the true meaning of winning is having Jesus in my life. It is a life of prayer, a life of intimacy and a lifelong friendship, knowing that God is our Father. I can say that I am a winner and I am victorious because Jesus lives in my life. No, I will never stop following Him.