Screengrab via FIFA (Licensed)
The 27-year-old’s decision to leave professional soccer behind wasn’t entirely of his own accord, as the striker was plagued by constant injury towards the end of his nine-year career. Born in Goiânia, Brazil, Lira’s talent was spotted early, as he played for the Brazilian U-20 lineup in 2006 when he was just 16 years old. Lira’s most successful period came in 2015, when he competed for the soccer club Goianésia and appeared frequently on the pitch, scoring a total of four goals—one of which earned him the FIFA Puskas Award of that year, beating out Lionel Messi in the polls.
Lira also discovered that he had a talent for Electronic Arts’ FIFA franchise, and in 2012 became his home state’s FIFA champion. Up until last year, his FIFA career saw him battle mostly domestic opponents, but that changed when he defeated last year’s FIFA world champion Abdulaziz Alshehri in an exhibition game in November 2015.
Lira’s transition from the pitch to the screen is unique in the sense that he was able to break through as a soccer player first and foremost. But lately soccer teams in Europe have been showing a growing interest in esports, with teams like FC Schalke 04, Manchester City, and Beşiktaş J.K. all investing into the growing business by picking up teams and players.