Calm before storm: Endrick Felipe savours quiet Christmas at home in Brasilia

Endrick is set to join Real Madrid when he turns 18 in July next year

Endrick Felipe Endrick Felipe | Fabio Menotti/Palmeiras

His feet topping over the footvolley net with great ease, flying through the air and looking so much like a man....

Endrick Felipe, the 17-year-old child prodigy and future Real Madrid star, was at home in Brasilia this Christmas weekend, enjoying the comfort of the streets and people of the place where he took his first breath.

The kid that turned heads around Brazil's capital at three with a spectacular bicycle goal so acrobatic that it is still talked about 14 years later, was in virtuoso form with every leap, header, and kick in the game revealing a glimpse of the brilliance that promises to grace the ranks of Real Madrid.

Clad only in obsidian shorts and wearing a snug T-shirt at times, the Brazilian sensation showed the sculpted body of an athlete in his prime. Playing with grace and power, the barefoot Endrick showed on the sand court an innate flair that can elevate even footvolley to an art form. The golden grains of the court in the Brasilia neighborhood of Aguas Claras witnessed a unique display of athletic skills that Real Madrid fans yearn to see translated on to the grand stages of football.

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After conquering the Brasileirão title with Palmeiras, Endrick returned to his roots this Christmas, heading back to the Brazilian capital after recent headline-grabbing trips to the United States and Spain.

The 17-year-old phenom visited family and friends in Brasília over the holidays, likely his last extended stay in Brazil for some time as he prepares for a high-profile move to Real Madrid and La Liga, arguably the most prestigious and competitive football league in the world, next year.

Endrick’s homecoming came on the heels of whirlwind travels abroad. Earlier this month, he took a trip to the US where he formalised the agreement with Boston-based New Balance, becoming the first South American player to have the brand as his official sports equipment provider.

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While in Boston, Endrick took in an NBA game of the Boston Celtics, and met with Darius Garland, star of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He visited nearby New York, going to Yankee Stadium and meeting the great Derek Jeter.

Shortly after, Endrick stopped in Madrid to get an early introduction to Real Madrid, the club that has signed him to a contract starting in 2024.

In Spain, Endrick received the superstar treatment, including a grand tour of Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium. While meetings Real Madrid figures like manager Carlo Ancelotti, Endrick also took in the club’s facilities and met potential future teammates, hugging and shaking hands with them, like Croatia's World Cup team captain Luka Modrić.

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Dressed in a smart blazer, he impressed in fairly fluent Spanish peppered with a few Portuguese words to fill in gaps. But the crowds and the media loved it. "It has been a dream of mine," he said of playing for Real Madrid.

With his mom, dad, and siblings in tow, Endrick took the opportunity to shop for a house to live in the Spanish capital.

He then returned to his native grounds for a lower-key Christmas celebration among family and friends in Brasília. Christmas in Brazil offered Endrick a chance to recharge amid a tumultuous and transformative year before returning to training. Though for fans of his future team he has already reached icon status, in Brazil, Endrick is still just a local boy celebrating the holidays in his hometown.

It has been quite a year for the young prodigy. After agreeing to sign for Real Madrid last December, despite having numerous offers from other clubs, Endrick is is set to join the Spanish team when he turns 18 in July. Playing for Palmeiras, and despite a period where his play was limited by his coach, Endrick played a crucial role in their victory in the Brazilian league, scoring 11 goals in the season, including a stunning 4-3 comeback win over title rivals Botafogo. With this, Palmeiras won the title for the 12th time, securing their spot in the top-tier of Brazilian football.

Endrick was called up by Brazil for the first time for World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Argentina in November—impressive for a 17-year-old, even in Brazil.

But Christmas 2023 means the love and comfort of home for the devout Christian, perhaps aware that this might be his last holiday season in Brasilia for some time.

Yet for now, on this silent Christmas Eve, Endrick's hometown has people sharing memories of the young prodigy that grew up among them. Over pão de queijo (a typical Brazilian tapioca and cheese bread) and cafezinho, and songs of hope and salvation his hometown folk wish that wherever his journey takes him, Brasilia remains his eternal home and that a piece of his heart would forever remain with them.

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