The lucrative move to Europe is always a temptation for the best players in Brazil, Argentina and across South America. With salaries often dwarfing those available locally, it takes a strong will to turn down potential millions and stay loyal to one’s boyhood club.
Corinthians wunderkind Fabricio Oya may just prove to be one of those exceptions. The midfielder earned rave reviews before even setting foot on the pitch for his beloved Timao and interest from overseas has never been far behind.
At just 17, Oya is yet to make his full debut at Corinthians. That has not stopped him, however, from breaking into the Brazil Under-20 team – the teenager formed part of this year’s side at the famous Toulon tournament – nor from attracting attention far beyond his native Brazil.
Manchester United have previously been linked with the youngster, allegedly attempting to swoop while he was still a trainee. But the move was put on hold, for the time being anyway, by Oya signing his first professional contract, committing to starring with Corinthians before he takes on any overseas challenge.
“Who would not want to be here? Who would not dream of wearing the Corinthians shirt and walking out in this stadium with 40,000 fans chanting your name?” Oya asked during an interview with Goal Brasil.
“I think this is a dream for anyone, not just for me, but I think it gets even better because I live for Corinthians and have been here for the last seven years. My love for this club is so big, I hope that at some point when I am ready I can leave my mark here.”
Those lucky enough to have witnessed Oya as he has shot through the Timao youth ranks would agree with that sentiment.
At the tender age of 16, the centre midfielder was starring in the Under-20 category with boys three or four years older than him, and more than holding his own. He has stood out especially for his prowess at dead-ball situations; not for nothing does he name among his heroes free-kick specialists like Lionel Messi, Andrea Pirlo and, of course, Ronaldinho.
“I didn’t get the chance to see them much with the experience I have now of football, but my childhood idols whom I liked a lot and now search for in videos on the internet are Pirlo, Ronaldinho, [Zinedine] Zidane,” he states.
“Now I like watching Iniesta, Messi and Neymar. Neymar and Messi might stand about above the rest, but football is the same for everybody, it is a way to play, be happy and look for creativity so that serves as an inspiration to me.
“I don’t think I will ever be able to equal Pirlo and Ronaldinho’s free-kicks, though!”
Oya’s story is not the typical quest to escape poverty that is so synonymous with Brazil’s most famous players. Indeed, as a 12-year-old hopeful entering one of Corinthians’ feeder schools for the first time, he was the butt of many ‘Daddy’s boy’ jokes from his companions, due to the fact his father owned the facility and several others.
The youngster enjoyed the trappings of an upper-middle class lifestyle in his native Campinas, including private schools and English classes. Articulate beyond his years, in a recent chat with Lance he admitted that if he had not got into football he would have taken up business administration “to manage my family’s finances”.
But there is absolutely no doubting his commitment once on the pitch. Oya shrugged off the ‘Daddy’s boy’ slur as he does the attentions of his marker in a heavily congested centre-circle, proving his critics wrong with consistently brilliant performances throughout the age groups.
The administrator in him has not fully receded, however, as he lined out his plan for the future for Goal: “I have my projects. My wish is to be playing well for Corinthians and winning titles within two years.
“I want to be remembered in the history of the club and after all that, play in Europe and if possible fight for a World Cup with my country. I think achieving that is the peak of your career, the most that a player can give.
“I hope to play in the Qatar World Cup and after that in the Japan Olympics of 2020 representing our Brazil team.”
So far in 2017 it is precisely Corinthians’ own strength that has kept the door shut for its young whizzkid. Iif Oya has not had a look in as of yet, it is because those ahead of him in the pecking order at the Sao Paulo State champions and Serie A leaders – including ex-Manchester City striker Jo and veteran playmaker Jadson – have been so consistently excellent.
It matters not, however, as the teenager is more than happy to bide his time. Oya is not rushing his career, and once installed in the Timao starting line-up he looks set to brush off any possible European interest for the time being and concentrate on keeping his club at the top of the pile in Brazil.
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