At just 18 years old Reinier Jesus has gone the distance. Grabbing every opportunity and owning it, his flair game in Flamengo grabbed the attention of Europe's elite and with a move to Real Madrid secured, he's now looking forward to a season long-loan with youth hit-factory Borussia Dortmund. Discussing where he came from to the heights he's heading toward, the energetic gem lets us in on his life, which is currently looking very good.

Where did football start for you? Can you describe your earliest memories?

Ever since I remember, I've been playing football with my father. Football is part of my life, just like breathing but so is my family. My parents and sister have travelled with me to Europe from Brazil, which I know is going to be so important. It’s true, I have my team-mates to help me settle here, but nobody can replace them.

Who or what made you fall in love with football?

My father was a professional indoor football player. So, he was and is my biggest inspiration.
To be now in Europe, playing for such a big club like Borussia Dortmund, it is so far away from where my journey started but I couldn’t be happier and can’t wait to show the fans and repay the club for their faith in me.

In your words, what makes football such a beautiful game?

The possibilities of the game. Everything can happen in those 90 minutes. And it all can change on a pass, a sprint or a strike. I have seen it for myself what success on the pitch can do to the mood in the city. One big win and everyone is happy, that is the power of football and why I give everything when I’m playing.

Can you tell us about the passion for football that you grew up with?

Football is part of my life. Growing up watching my father playing, watching football from the stands or on the TV... These are the sweetest memories of my life. This passion has always been in our family, but not just my family. In Brazil football is like a religion for us all. I remember having the World Cup in our country in 2014, I was only young but seeing the passion all over the country was a special moment that only inspired me to improve and better myself to take my chance when it comes.

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Playing for a team like Flamengo, with so much history, are you proud of that chapter in your career?

I’m very proud to have Flamengo in my history. And also, to be part of such great football clubs in the history of the game. It was my first taste of senior football, but I felt like I adapted well and was able to help the team achieve, which is the most important thing.

How much did that set you up to move to Europe?

Starting in Flamengo, on such an incredible year with lots of brilliant players that had been in Europe before, and Jorge Jesus and his staff, set me up for the challenge of coming to Europe. Before moving I was always speaking with these guys anyway but in the end, it has always been part of my plan to play in Europe. Now I’m here I will use all their advice and experiences I’ve had so far to develop and improve.

Was it hard to leave home? It must have been an emotional time?

It was emotional to leave friends and a life in Rio de Janeiro behind. But we football players have to take this in our stride as it is a privilege and a part of the game. We spoke as a family whether I was to go alone but in the end my family have come with me, which I am so grateful for. Without them it wouldn’t have been easy. I want them to come on this journey with me, something we can enjoy together and look back on.

Did you grow up watching European football?

Yes. Every Brazilian kid loves and watches European football. Especially the Champions League. You see the stadiums, clubs and players in this tournament. I always kept an eye out for the Brazilian players. To be now here in Europe myself is something I have to be grateful, but the work starts now for me. In Dortmund we have amazing facilities to help us and from what I have seen of the city so far, I am really happy.

Tell us about the Brazilian style and flavour you bring to the game in Europe?

I’m a player who likes to create opportunities for my teammates and also step in the box to score goals. My style of playing is a mix of speed and mentality. With the national youth teams, I have had the opportunity to play against England, Portugal, Turkey, Russia; these were great experiences for me to see the different styles and players. Our style as Brazilians can come in many different ways, for me I am always happy when I’m creating chances or scoring goals to help the team achieve success.

Do you like to express yourself through football?

Football is more than a game, it’s a way to change the world and express our opinions. It is always clear to see when a player is happy off the pitch with the way he plays. This is exactly the same for me. Growing up I was always playing with my friends, trying new skills and this hasn’t changed even now with teammates, every day I’m trying new skills on them. Sometimes it works, sometimes not! But that’s how I am, never afraid of trying new things to challenge myself.

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You seem like a person who appreciates life and likes to live it properly – what can you
tell us about who you are and your character?

I’m a family-and-friends kind of guy. So far my family has only travelled with me to Europe, but I’m sure once we’re more settled I will see if any of my friends come. I am definitely grateful for this life but in the end, it would be no fun alone. I want to enjoy this journey with my family and friends as that is what it is all about. This is the same for my teammates; we win together but also lose together. In that sense I would definitely like to think I am a team player.

How important is it to play with a smile on your face?

You know... It's important to live with a smile on our faces, not just play!

People say look good, feel good – is that something that’s important for you? You seem like someone who dresses well?

Each person has their own personality and their own style. I like to feel good. If I look good or not depends more on what you actually like (laughter). I try to understand what the occasion asks for and how I feel like I want to present myself. When I was in Flamengo I decided to bleach my hair blonde with some of the team, I thought it looked good! But I like to experiment like this depending on my mood. At the moment I am happy with it, but let’s see!

What’s the difference you’ve seen between European fashion and South American style?

I guess the weather is what makes the difference. I don't know all about European or South American style, but I do know what I like to wear. Since I have arrived in Germany we have had great weather but people are always telling me to be ready for winter. So in this sense I think coats will be the main difference!

How hungry are you to become a superstar?

I want to become a super football player, not a superstar. This will always be my number one priority, then anything on top of this is a nice addition.

2.2m followers on Instagram. What’s it like when you post something? Your phone must be going crazy?

In the end it’s just the same, no matter how many followers! I only post things that I like and will continue to do that. Normally I like to post after training or matches when I’m on the move so never have time to sit and watch as I’m speaking with friends or hearing my father’s thoughts on my game!

Football is full of people attracted to the spotlight and attention. How have you stayed grounded and humble?

By having my family right beside me, as I say after my games I speak with friends and family who have watched the game. They keep me the same but in defeats are able to cheer me up and distract me from the game, which is also very important.

Have you been able to help your family through the success you’ve had?

I had my priorities when I started playing football and giving back was one of them. And my family, as my foundation, is a priority for all the sacrifice.

How much do you live for those around you? It must be an incredible feeling to make those close to you, so proud?

It's great to see people you love proud of you. But we still have a long way to go, I am only starting out from where I want to be, so I hope I can continue to make them proud on this journey.

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How does it feel to move to a club like Dortmund with their track record of developing young players?

We discussed at home that there were a lot of young players here and that I could fit in very well. When the opportunity arose, I didn't have to think twice.

What was the first thought that went through your head when you heard of their interest?

I knew straight away that was where I wanted to go. I’ve seen other young players given their chance to show their talent and I want to do the same. There have been Brazilians here before at Dortmund and I got lots of nice messages when it became official. Marcio Amoroso was one of the first to congratulate me and tell me how great the club is. But others like Rafinha at Flamengo were also happy for me. We talked a lot and he always said how much I would learn in the Bundesliga, especially in the city and at this club. Now I’m here I can’t wait to get going.

How much do players like Jadon Sancho stand out as reasons to join a club like Dortmund?

For sure there is Jadon but also many other talented players, Erling, Gio Reyna, Youssoufa Moukoko. There is a great future ahead for these guys and I hope I can also prove myself at this level. The club have proven they know how to get the best out of younger players, with the coaches, the facilities. I think we’ll be able to push each other along both on and off the pitch which is perfect and again another reason why I am here.

What had you heard about the club and the atmosphere of the place you would be joining?

Of course, I was aware of Borussia even when I was back in Brazil. We love the offensive football that is shown, the young players who get their chances and of course the great atmosphere at the stadium. It is a shame the fans aren’t yet allowed back but I can’t wait to play for the fans and show them what I can do.

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How desperate are you to experience a game in front of the yellow wall and the Dortmund fans?

This was one of the main factors of me joining, the fans are well known all over the world for their passion and atmospheres they create at home. It is what I think attracts the Brazilians most to the club with the joy in the stands.

How does it feel to move to another country and have the opportunity to experience another culture?

The past 6 months have been a bit crazy for me in terms of moving from Brazil to Madrid and now I’m here in Germany. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way, this is what I dreamt about as a young boy to play on the biggest stage for the biggest teams in Europe. Obviously with COVID, things aren’t so normal right now but the club and my teammates have really helped make sure I’m feeling settled. I spoke with Achraf Hakimi who gave me lots of tips about these kinds of things. His development was perfect here and his career has definitely been boosted, this is of course something I’d like to replicate.

How do you want to be known in a year’s time? A global household name? A 'superstar player'?

I want to be known as a player from Brazil who is following his dreams. I hope I can help my team-mates, bring joy to the fans and continue to develop as a person and as a player. The club have shown a lot of faith in me and now it is my turn to repay their trust in me. 

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