13 fun facts about Vinícius Júnior

Did You Know_Vini Jr.
Everything you need to know about Real Madrid's franchise player Vinícius Júnior

Vinícius Júnior, commonly known as Vini Jr., is a young Brazilian footballer who currently plays as a winger for Real Madrid and the Brazilian national team. He was born on July 12, 2000, in São Gonçalo, Brazil.

Vini Jr. started his football career at a young age, joining the youth academy of Flamengo, one of Brazil's biggest clubs, at the age of ten. He quickly rose through the ranks and made his senior team debut in 2017 at the age of 16.

His performances for Flamengo caught the attention of several top European clubs, and in 2018 he was signed by Real Madrid for a reported fee of €45 million, making him one of the most expensive teenagers in football history.

Since joining Real Madrid, Vini Jr. has established himself as one of the most promising young talents in world football. He possesses excellent technical abilities, including impressive dribbling skills and a keen eye for goal.

He has also shown great versatility, and is capable of playing on both wings, although he is primarily a left winger and has made that role his own since Carlo Ancelotti returned for a second stint at Real Madrid in 2021.

In his debut season with Real Madrid, Vini Jr. was one of the few lone bright spots in an otherwise disastrous campaign, making his breakthrough under Santiago Solari, before an injury against Ajax in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ended his season.

However, he has become Los Blancos' poster boy in the last two years, playing an integral role in helping them clinch a La Liga-Champions League double in the 2021-22 season, scoring 22 goals in all competitions. He has also represented Brazil at various youth levels and made his senior team debut in 2019.

At just 22 years of age, Vini Jr. has already achieved a lot in his career and has already become one of the best players in the world.

However, what are some of the most interesting facts about the blistering Brazilian?

  1. Humble beginnings

    Vini Jr.'s football career began in 2006, when his father took him to Flamengo's branch in the Mutuá district of Sao Goncalo.

    Born into a poor family, Vini came to live with his uncle Ulisses in Abolição in order to get closer to Ninho do Urubu (the 'Vulture's Nest'). 

    In an interview with AS in 2020, Carlos Eduardo Abrantes - director of the Escolinha de Flamengo and known as the man who discovered Vini - spoke about his childhood days.

    "His mother stayed in São Gonçalo and his father worked in São Paulo, in another state. He was a building manager. His mother took him to training and looked after those things," Abrantes stated.

    "We got him a school bag to bring to training because they had financial difficulties. We We helped him where we could. We also got him boots although he ended up getting a contract with Nike.

    "His family did the rest with regards to transport above all when he started in the academy. His parents got him everything, they are so important in his career."

  2. Was documented as a left-back

    When he initially joined the Flamengo school, the club document described him as a left-back.

    However, that was a mistake on the club's part as he demonstrated his skills while playing as an attacker.

  3. Started out with futsal

    From 2007 to 2010, Vini took futsal lessons at the Flamengo School of São Gonçalo, located in Canto do Rio, a famous club in the center of Niterói.

    In 2009, at the age of nine, he took part in futsal trials at Flamengo.

    The club saw potential in him, but in view of his youth he was asked to come back the following year. However, he decided he wanted to play football instead of futsal and did not return.  

  4. Youngest foreign scorer in El Clásico history
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    Youngest foreign scorer in El Clásico history

    When Barcelona visited Real Madrid on 1st March, 2020, Vini broke the deadlock in the 71st minute to score his first-ever El Clásico goal.

    In doing so, he beat Lionel Messi's record (19 years and 259 days) to become the youngest foreign goalscorer in El Clásico history, aged 19 years and 230 days.

  5. First player born in the 21st century to play for Real Madrid

    When Vini made his debut for Real Madrid against Atlético Madrid in September 2018, he became the first player born in or after 2000 to represent Los Blancos.

  6. Record transfer for a player under the age of 19
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    Record transfer for a player under the age of 19

    Just two days after making his senior debut for Flamengo in May 2017, Vini extended his contract with the club to 2022, with his release clause rising from €30 million to €45 million.

    When Real Madrid triggered his release clause, he became the most expensive under-19 player at the time, and the second most expensive Brazilian transfer behind Neymar, who had transferred from Santos to Barcelona in 2013.

  7. Only South American in Telegraph's list of best under-21 players

    In 2017, The Telegraph release a list of the best under-21 players in the world, where Vini ranked 39th.

    He was the only player from South America to feature in the list that included the likes of fellow Real Madrid players Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos, as well as current world-beaters Marcus Rashford, Matthijs de Ligt, and Kylian Mbappé.

  8. Vini's idol? Neymar!
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    Vini's idol? Neymar!

    Vini uploaded a video on his official YouTube channel in 2019, where he spoke about previously unknown facts about him.

    In the video, he was asked about his idol in footballer, and he responded by saying, "Neymar!"

  9. His favourite movie is Karate Kid

    In the same video, Vini revealed that the Jackie Chan-starrer Karate Kid happens to be his favourite movie.

  10. Vini is a big NBA fan

    Vini often puts on NBA jerseys and has also given interviews putting on NBA attire.

    He attended the game between Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons in November 2022 and posted a photo of the same on his Instagram account.

  11. He almost signed for Manchester United

    In an interview with ESPN Brazil, Vini's former youth coach at Flamengo revealed that Manchester United had sent scouts to watch the young Brazilian in action and were keen on signing him before Real Madrid came calling.

    "A foreign United scout said: 'Noval, look at the player you have, he's a gem! I've never seen a 14-year-old player do what he does '. That reinforced everything we already had in mind. He was a jewel to be polished. Everyone wanted Vinicius," Noval revealed.

    "Corinthians didn't get to talk to us because they didn't have the slightest chance. Barcelona, in particular, monitored this boy since he was 13 years old. Real Madrid and most of the big European clubs too.

    "We had more contact, they came to talk to us, but Vini could only leave the country at the age of 18. European clubs are very important to know what the athlete's family, representatives and off-field are like."

  12. Top scorer at the South American U-17 Championship
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    Top scorer at the South American U-17 Championship

    Vini helped Brazil win the 2017 South American U-17 Championship and was awarded the Best Player of the Tournament.

    However, he also ended up being the top scorer in the tournament, scoring seven goals.

  13. Has a charitable institute to his name

    With the help of his non-profit organisation, Vini Jr. Institute, Vini hired a team to design a learning app, called BASE, for kids between the age 6-10 in order to help them hone their basic skills using soccer terms.

    The institute delivered cellphones with the app installed to his old elementary school.

    "The institute helps me get closer to the people who helped me back there when I was 16, 15 years old, and repay the affection they all have for me," the former Flamengo gem conceded in a video the charity made.