Dreams, family & sacrifice: Emerson Palmieri and brother Giovanni out to conquer the world

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The two brothers took very different paths to stardom, but they have both successfully fought for careers in the professional game

The 208 million people of Brazil see football as part of their daily lives, with a large proportion of them having a love for the sport and many harbouring a desire to carve out a professional career in the game. 

To get that first breakthrough in a country so drunk on their adoration for the game is very tough, but it is something that the Santos-born duo of the Palmieri brothers set about achieving.

Chelsea's Emerson Palmieri is the better known of the two, having arrived in west London for £17.5 million from Roma in January, which could rise to £23m with add-ons. 

His lesser known brother, Giovanni, also plays as a left back, though he stands a little taller. Unlike his brother, who was snapped up by Brazilian giants Santos as a teenager, Giovanni had to make a career for himself the hard way as he fought for his chance in the third and fourth tiers of the football pyramid.  

Giovanni has fought his way to the top division in Brazil after being promoted with América Mineiro, via a loan from Fluminense. The two brothers hold a great bond and Giovanni thinks that their relationship has helped them to achieve their careers in both Brazil's, and the world's, most popular sport. 

"Each one of us followed our path according to the opportunities we had at those moments," Giovanni told Goal . "It is normal for us to have differences in our trajectories. Most importantly, we are very proud of the path we have taken to get to where we are today. We went through a lot.

"I think our parents and our family are very close. Our parents always did all they could so we had what we did to eat, they helped us to grow up with an education and so we could fight for our dreams. To me, they are my biggest references and bigger than any former player.

"While it is a dreamy childhood, when you imagine becoming a player and playing in big clubs, it is also a period of great challenges and sacrifices. It's all that context of leaving home early, trying life in other cities, missing family and never giving up on your dream of becoming a professional football player.

"We always played a lot and tried to always learn something from each other. We have always had a relationship of great loyalty and friendship, which certainly facilitated our development.

"Is was very difficult. You have to fight and believe a lot. We usually say that only five per cent of the boys who try to become football players can. The competition is very large and the obstacles even greater. You have to have perseverance and belief in your dream regardless of the circumstances."

 

Mais um final de semana maravilhoso! Obrigado Senhor

A post shared by Giovanni Palmieri dos Santos (@giopalmieri) on

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has recently handed Emerson three starts in a row, with Marcos Alonso having been suspended for violent conduct. Emerson's progress was slowed after he tore his cruciate ligament at the end of last season and Conte has been careful with how he manages his new signing. 

Emerson has shown his worth as he continues to build his confidence by learning English. Giovanni has been impressed by his brother's impact on European football, since he left Brazil at only 19 years old. 

"As an older brother, I always try to advise him with some situations I've been through and what I think is right," Giovanni added. "But I also get advice from him. We help each other. He has been building a brilliant career, full of moves to great clubs and his call for the Italian team.

"It's a very beautiful career. I hope the new chapters of his career continue to help his rise, for he has worked hard to achieve these goals. I was proud to see my brother go through so much and get a place in the Italian national team.

"It filled me with pride and he's really worthy of everything he's been getting. I knew he could adapt [in Europe]. He is a winning guy, with a lot of personality and, like me, a dreamer. He knew that he would overcome any obstacle to remain in steady pursuit of his dreams.

"Of course, it is a different environment and coming to England requires a period of adaptation, but I think Emerson has been able to get to grips with it. Whenever I can, I watch and I pray for him. Of course, I am very happy and proud.  

"I want him to continue believing in his dreams with humility and perseverance. I believe in a bright future for him and he can continue to be a source of pride for all of us."

Giovanni Palmieri

Meanwhile, Giovanni is focusing on his own career as he reaches his peak. He is out to establish himself in top flight football at América Mineiro, a club which has previously seen Tostão, Éder Aleixo, Gilberto Silva, Fred and Danilo don the green and black shirt.

Giovanni is showing that it is not only Emerson who his parents can be proud of as his journey has seen him win two major honours, and he too is enjoying his football more than ever. 

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"Yes, it is certainly a source of pride. When I received the proposal from America I knew the responsibility of wearing that shirt," He added. "It is a club with a lot of tradition and owner of a beautiful story. I hope to continue to contribute so that new chapters of this beautiful story can emerge.

"It was a special moment [to achieve promotion]. There are campaigns that mark us forever, and this was certainly one of those. I am a dreamer who fights hard for professional and personal goals. I just want to improve every day."

There may be a four hour time difference between Giovanni and Emerson, but the big brother may have to look out for Chelsea's games a little more as Conte mulls over who wears the shirt in the left wing-back position. 

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