About 100 young soccer fans got a high-five from one of their heroes this morning.
Former Brazilian professional soccer player Juliano Belletti stopped by Evergreen Sportsplex near Leesburg to talk about his career and snap photos with some of his littlest fans.
“Nice big jump,” Belletti commended to a young player as he leapt to reach his hand for a slap. “Thank you, everybody, for all your support.”
Just 100 kids got the chance to attend the meet-and-greet. The available spots were filled in 90 minutes, and organizers said there were close to 900 players who would have loved to attend.
Belletti told them, as a kid, he would have never imagined all that his love of soccer would lead to. Since he was 6 years old, all he wanted to do was play soccer. “I want to tell you, nothing is impossible,” he said.
Belletti’s visit coincides with this afternoon’s friendly match between Manchester United and FC Barcelona at FedEx Field. Belletti played for FC Barcelona from 2004 to 2007 and became an international soccer star after scoring the winning goal in the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final. It was the only goal Belletti scored with Barcelona, but it secured Barça the Champions League crown.
“That was the best moment in my professional career,” he said. “I won a World Cup when I played with Brazil in 2002, but that goal was the best moment. We were in Paris, and my father and my mother were there. All I could do was put my face in my hands.”
Evergreen Sportsplex is home to the FCBEscola Northern Virginia. Earlier this year, FC Barcelona—one of the most iconic soccer brands in the world—partnered with Sporting Global to launch the soccer school, now in its first season.
FCBEscola Director Franc Carbo told the players, ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old, that the training they are getting here in Loudoun County is the same as the training the professionals get in Barcelona. “It’s a huge opportunity. Learn as much as you can, work hard, and more importantly, meet new friends and have fun.”