Joelinton: "I'm living my dream"

TSG Hoffenheim's Brazilian frontman Joelinton has been one of the rising stars in the Bundesliga this season. The 22-year-old rejoined the Kraichgau club in the summer following a two-year loan spell at Rapid Vienna and has since established himself as a regular starter, scoring four goals and notching four assists in the top flight. Speaking in an interview with the club magazine SPIELFELD, the former Sport Recife man said: "I'm living my dream." You can read the full interview in the November edition, which will be published this Friday (09/11).

Much as it did for his compatriot Roberto Firmino, Joelinton is hoping Hoffenheim will serve as a platform to earn a call-up to the Brazilian national team. "I play in one of the top European leagues. It's home to the best players and you can qualify for the Champions League, the best competition in the world and one in which many Brazil internationals play and young Brazilians use to become internationals. I know that if I play well here, then I can represent my country too. That's the next major objective that I have: to get a call-up for my country and become a big player," Joelinton told SPIELFELD in the interview.

Joelinton Cassio Apolinário de Lira, to use his official name, also spoke about his upbringing in his hometown of Alianca − "It's about as big as Sinsheim" − in the state of Pernambuco and how he moved to the sprawling metropolis of Recife aged 14 with hopes of becoming a professional footballer. "I always believed I could become a professional and I worked hard towards it. I always knew that every child in Brazil wants to become a professional footballer. It's a huge country, we love football and there are many talented youngsters. I was the one in a thousand kids that made it. I was prepared from the start to give things up. Perhaps I even had some German discipline back then."

TSG Hoffenheim are becoming increasingly well-known in the country of the five-time world champions, in part thanks to Joelinton. "The Bundesliga is shown live on TV in Brazil. Many Brazilians have already played in Hoffenheim, Roberto Firmino drew awareness to the club and now I'm here. And obviously, thanks to our participation in the Champions League, we have a bigger platform now. There's a big demand for Hoffenheim shirts among my friends and relatives," the centre-forward said.

While the comparisons sometimes made with Firmino do not grate on him, "I always do point out that we shouldn't be compared to one another. I'm Joe. He's Firmino. We're both Brazilian and have both played here. But we're very different types of footballers. I'm a classic centre-forward, a real number 9. Firmino is more of a number 10, a deep-lying forward."

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