Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr has been using criticism as a stepping stone to his success as he continues to rise above the negativity and deliver exciting football in Europe.
Vinicius currently plays for Real Madrid. Over the past few years, he has faced criticism for his decision-making and finishing skills, even from his own fans.
In 2021-22 season was a breakthrough year for him, as he hit 22 goals across all competitions, compared to just 14 in the three campaigns prior.
Stepping into the shoes of Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Madrid in 2018, was no easy feat for Vinicius, especially at such a young age.
However, he has proven himself to belong among the elite with his performance on the pitch.
Rough treatment from defenders and racist abuse from fans
Despite his achievements, Vinicius has been plagued by negative attention from opponents and fans alike.
Some opponents have resorted to rough treatment, resulting in multiple fouls and a running battle with defenders.
His tricks and flicks are sometimes viewed as designed to humiliate opponents, which has led to additional scrutiny.
Off the pitch, Vinicius has been the target of racist abuse from opposition supporters.
Atletico Madrid ultras hung an effigy of him from a bridge near Real Madrid’s training ground, which is currently being investigated by the police.
Several instances of racism aimed at Vinicius have been filmed, but no punishments have been dealt with by the courts.
The lack of action has been a source of frustration for Vinicius, who has called out the Spanish top flight for not doing enough to combat racism.
Thriving on the negativity
Despite the challenges, Vinicius has been thriving on the negativity.
His dancing celebrations, which some opponents and fans take issue with, have become a signature move that he continues to use despite the criticism.
His coach, Carlo Ancelotti, has defended him, calling attention to the broader problem in Spanish football.
Vinicius's response to the racism has been to stay focused on the game and to continue to play at his best.
Even though he has not hit the same level of form as he did last season, he has still managed to score 16 goals and counting across all competitions.
He is one of the most exciting players in the world and is looking forward to the Champions League last 16 clash with Liverpool as another chance to escape the negativity and revisit his finest moment to date.
Vinicius has come a long way from the criticism he faced early in his career.
He has proven himself as a top player on the pitch, even in the face of rough treatment and racism from opponents and fans.
His ability to thrive on the negativity and stay focused on the game is a testament to his resilience and determination.
As he takes on Liverpool in the Champions League last 16, he will be looking to continue his rise to stardom and leave the negativity behind.