Brazil's Richarlison chats to Kick Off

English Premier League

From washing cars to playing for the national team alongside boyhood idol Neymar, Everton star Richarlison briefly detailed his journey from the streets of Brazil to the Premier League in an exclusive feature for Kick Off.

Richarlison, who enjoyed an outstanding 2018/19 season with the Toffees, was rewarded with a national team call-up for the Copa America currently taking place in Brazil.

The 22-year-old, who scooped up Everton's 2018/19 Young Player of the Year award, recently told Kick Off about his journey to the top. Here's what he had to say.

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"Moving to Everton has helped me to break into the Brazil squad and fulfil a lifetime ambition of representing my country in the upcoming Copa America.

When I was younger, some of my friends and family said I would not have a future in football. I was told I needed to get a proper job, but I always believed in the potential I had.

Yes, for a time, I washed cars and sold ice creams. My grandfather had a piece of land where he grew coffee and peanuts, and I would often go and help him out too, but for me I didn't want to be anything other than a footballer.

Through hard work and dedication, I'm now in a position where I'm playing in the Premier League with Everton and for the Brazilian national team, and looking forward to the start of the Copa America with real excitement.

What makes it even more special is that this year's tournament is being held in Brazil, so all my friends and family can attend the matches and watch me play.

To earn the opportunity to play for my country and then establish myself within the squad are achievements I am immensely proud of.

Neymar was one of my childhood idols so to play alongside him has made it even better. I always tried to replicate the way Neymar plays, his style of football and even some of his haircuts! I didn't quite manage to pull it off though as I didn't have the right hair products.

I told him about this one day whilst we were away on international duty and the whole room started laughing – my teammates thought it was hilarious!

When I earned my first call-up for Brazil last August, I made sure to keep hold of my boots and shirt.

Neymar gave me his shirt too and my plan is to get them framed together and proudly hang them in a room in my house, so people can see them when they call around to visit.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my first year at Everton, settling into life at the club, both on and away from the football field. I scored 14 goals and that is a foundation to build and improve on for next season.

I was also very proud to be named Everton's Young Player of the Season for 2018/19. The prize I received was a mini-statue of Dixie Dean, one of the club's greatest-ever players. Dixie once scored an amazing 60 league goals in a season [in 1927/28], so it is a privilege to receive a prize named after such a great goalscorer.

What made the award so satisfying was the fact it was voted for by the fans. Their support helped me to achieve what I did last season and from the moment I arrived at the club, they embraced and believed in me, so after each match I always try to pass them one of my match shirts as a ‘thank you’.

When I was young, I was a such a big football fan that I wanted to collect players' shirts and their boots, so this is something I always try to do, a small gesture which makes the fans happy. It is very apparent that Everton has a strong connection with the local community.

I have been involved in a number of appearances for the club's charity, Everton in the Community, and I'm always happy to lend my support whenever I can.

One of the most enjoyable appearances I have been involved in was a training session with one of the charity's disability teams and learning about the skills required in blind football.

The participants were so inspiring and it was a privilege to meet all the players and coaches. I have full belief in what we are trying to achieve here at Everton. Everyone is together – the players, the staff, the fans, everyone.

I'm excited about the future and my personal aim next season is to score more goals and come back even better, hopefully after a successful Copa America with Brazil."

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