He was a first-team player at 17; a year later, his contract at Santos included a €50million buyout clause. Soon there were trophies, awards and Brazil caps. Ganso took it all in his languid stride, collecting assists as though they were going out of fashion, yet rarely operating at anything beyond walking pace.
Brazilian midfields can be battlegrounds, all sound and fury. Ganso, though, played as if he had exclusive access to a pause button, floating into space and spinning intricate webs of passes from behind the strikers. Tall and impossibly elegant, he was a throwback to golden age of the playmaker, a Gérson or a Sócrates refracted through Juan Román Riquelme's wonky Technicolor lens.
But things would not turn out to be as simple as expected for the man nicknamed 'Goose'. Read my piece on the rise, fall and resurrection of Ganso on the FourFourTwo website.