Ronaldinho’s son has been given his first contract with Brazilian club Cruzeiro after initially keeping the identity of his dad a secret.
Joao Mendes, 14, has represented Cruzeiro in the club’s youth system for the past year and has now signed a five-year training contract with the club.
Who is Ronaldinho Jr? Five key things to know…
- Joao Mendes is 14 years old and the son of Brazil legend Ronaldinho.
- The teenager has spent the past year training with Cruzeiro’s youth team.
- And Mendes has now signed a five-year training contract with the club, harbouring hopes of a future professional deal.
- Mendes reportedly kept his father’s identity a secret in hopes of being judged by his ability alone.
- Mendes has been described as a “tall player with high technical quality”.
But while some may have expected Mendes to be given the contract due to his father, Brazil and football legend Ronaldinho, the teenager reportedly hid his family ties when he first went on trial at the club.
Instead, Mendes hoped to be given a chance through his ability, and the club’s director of grassroots football, Amarildo Ribeiro, is optimistic about what the teenager can bring to Cruzeiro both at youth level and eventually the first team.
“Today, we signed the contract of Joao Mendes, who is a promising player with interesting characteristics and who, I believe, will soon be integrating with our professional team,” he told the club’s official website.
“He is a tall player with high technical quality. A player who can play both as a box player and as a second striker. He is a player who, even with his size, has speed and finishes very well.”
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Mendes hoping to make it at Cruzeiro
Despite being just 14 and only signing a training contract, Mendes is already harbouring hopes of scoring for the Cruzeiro first team.
“It was the team that opened the door for me. I have a great affection for the club,” he told the club’s official website.
“The training is very good, the structure is very good. It’s the biggest club in Brazil and it’s a pleasure to play here.
“It’s a very happy day. Thanks to the board for the confidence you have given to me. I also thank God for me being able to play every day.
“It is a dream that one day I can sign the professional contact with Cruzeiro, play professionally, score a goal in the crowded Mineirao and dedicate it to the fans.”