”I'm sorry, but he'll never walk again...”
To Pedro Perinho, soccer is everything. His pastime, his ambition and, most importantly, his one way ticket out of Brasìlia.
Ever since he was a boy Pedro's skills with a football were widely recognised throughout his neighbourhood. He would often make fools of players twice his age with his swift tricks and intelligent footwork, and it wasn't long before his abilities were in demand from the higher level clubs. At 10 he was playing for Dos Santos Under 14s. At 12 he was moved up to the Under 16s, and by the time he reached his 14th birthday he was already the captain of the youth team. Clubs from Europe were starting to show their interest; PSV, Dortmund, Lyon and even top teams like Arsenal and Real Madrid were taking notice of what was rapidly becoming known as football's hottest young prospect since Ricardo Kakà.
At 15 and 10 months, young Pedro was getting ready to make the move of his life. Manchester United had offered him a contract with a £2.5 million salary that would become effective on the day of his 16th birthday. Pedro was filled with joy as he rushed through the market place on his way to share the great news with his friends in the slums who he had played with since he was a child.
- Suddenly without warning, Pedro found himself falling. He hit the ground with force but pain didn't reach him, not yet at least. His mind was still processing what had just happened. Apparently, a gun was fired from across the street and the bullet had managed to find it's way through Pedro's right shin. The gunman had fled into the maze of the market; no one chased him. As understanding settled in, so too did the agony. Pedro wailed in grief. His cries almost as disturbing as the sickening sight of his now mangled right leg.
For the longest time, there was only pain. Both physical and mental. His life as he knew it was over. Once Pedro had felt the pain he immediately understood that his leg would never be the same again. Therefore he was silent when the doctor came in with a look of helplessness spread across his face.
“I'm sorry, but he'll never walk again...”
His Mother on the other hand was understandably not so silent. For her son was no longer going to be the salvation she prayed he would be. And it was this knowledge hurt Pedro more than anything else.
Numbness came now and Pedro welcomed it. Anything was better than his unbearable reality. Eyes glazed and mouth ajar, he lay motionless on the hospital bed, forgetting time.
His face twitched. How long had it been since he last moved. Hours, days, maybe weeks?
Pedro, open your eyes.
He obeyed, and his eyes were unexpectedly filled with a vision of pure light. Brighter even than the sun, but it didn't hurt him. Through its thickness was a figure that he couldn't quite make out, but he was certain of who it was.
Pedro, I have given you a gift. Will you use it?
“Jesùs, I cannot! My leg is no longer good!”
In my name, I command you to stand up, Pedro!
To his surprise, Pedro already was standing up! He couldn't believe he hadn't noticed! He jumped in joy and gave praise to God!
Pedro awoke. Startled, he snapped his chin down to look at his leg. It was still wrapped in bandages, suspended in a harness. Filled with determination, he rolled onto his side and swung his injured leg from its harness and onto the floor. The pain was excruciating but he endured it. He was now sitting up with both legs hanging off the bed. Slowly, Pedro began to lean his weight onto his feet. Bit by bit, with his right leg protesting in agony, Pedro managed to stand up. Dripping with sweat from the effort, he raised his head up to heaven;
“THERE LORD! I AM STANDING! AND I WILL ALSO ONE DAY PLAY FOOTBALL AGAIN!”
At 20 Pedro Perinho was awarded his first cap for the Brazilian international squad. As he jogged onto the pitch, he touched the grass, then with his right hand,
he touched his forehead,
then his chest,
then his left shoulder,
then his right shoulder,
and finally, his right shin.
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