No, this title is not a joke or parody. You read it correctly, and we’re completely serious, even if it seems rather surreal. A professional FIFA soccer player is retiring to enter eSports in FIFA, the video game.
Playing soccer professionally in the big leagues is already something few get to talk about, as you have to be pretty good to get into professional sports in any league. The same rings true for eSports, only the top of the top get signed to teams to compete on the world stage. eSports is becoming big enough that even real soccer clubs around the world are starting to sign players of FIFA (the video game) to wear their jerseys during tournaments. What, though, if you’re both a good soccer player, and damn good at FIFA, the video game? Duh, you full time the video game!
At least, that’s the mentality of Wendell Lira, a 27-year-old man who played for the Brazillian soccer club Goianesia as a striker, in comments he made to Brazilian soccer news site GloboEsporte. You see, Wendell is actually eSports good at FIFA, and he made sure people knew that when he accepted a challenge from FIFA‘s current world champion, Saudi Arabian Abdulaziz Alshehri. It might’ve been a friendly match and not exactly in the official eSports record books, but Wendell didn’t just win, he decimated Abdulaziz 6-1. This occurrence lead to an invite from EA to play in the 2016 FICW tournaments. This challenge was issued when Wendell won FIFA’s 2015 Puskas Award for the best goal (in reality), leaving Wendell not exactly short on achievement in a short time.
Though, joking aside, Wendell’s decision to retire from professional soccer is due primarily to “mounting injuries”. Evidently, he has been enduring a rather rough season this year. He was released from his new soccer club, Vila Nova, on May 9th of this year after not scoring any goals for the club, signing to the club after his Puskas award nomination in late 2015. Ironically, this release was merely a few days short of the nine-year anniversary of his pro debut on May 12th, 2007.
Wendell now dreams of becoming the FIFA champion the legit way through the tournament scene. He’s also started up a Youtube channel, which he told GloboEsporte will be used to show off his “gamer side to people and take it to the world.”
Whether Wendell will take the top spot or not will be seen in the upcoming tournaments. For the time being, we will have to wait and see how his career change decision pans out. Either way, all we can do is wish him the best of luck.
[Update: The article previously stated that Wendell won both the Puskas award and defeated Abdulaziz on November 6th, 2015 when this was the night of the Puskas nomination, not the night he won it. This was from an erroneous mention in a source and this date has been removed, and order of events clarified. ]