Santos’ Diogo Vitor may only be 19, but his future career already hangs over the edge of a precipice, dangling by one hand. Like Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger, he could drop down to the depths, or he could gain the strength to pull himself to safety.
Two years ago, Vitor was the apple in the eye of Santos’ renowned youth set-up. Famed throughout the world for creating talent like Neymar and the new kid on the block Gabriel Barbosa, Vitor was set to be as big, if not bigger, than these two global superstars.
He is, though, a law in himself. Called up to the first team, he played two games before being relegated to the youth teams yet again. Dorival Junior couldn’t get on board with his attitude. With Vitor famed for missing training with every excuse under the sun, the world is just waiting for the inevitable ‘My dog ate my football shorts’. So far, he’s missed training through a toothache, although he wouldn’t report to the team’s own medical staff, preferring instead to keep his own council. Vitor also faked the death of his own grandma, only to be caught out when Santos phoned his home to express their deepest condolences, and who should answer the phone but the aforementioned Grandma, who was very shocked to hear of her own demise.
He’s just returned from a month AWOL in which he left to his home state of Minas Gerais, upsetting Santos so much that they contacted lawyers to investigate the cancelling his contract. Santos, however, have welcomed their ‘jewel’ back with open arms and promised him one last chance. He’s kept his head down since his return and has been rewarded with a place in Santos’ under-23 team. You do wonder, though, how many more chances the young talent will be given.
Ravel Morrison, once praised by Rio Ferdinand as being a better prospect than Paul Pogba, has found his stock plummet due to a party lifestyle, lack of direction and some poor life choices. Manchester United moved him on to West Ham, thinking a move away from his influential friends would do him good. Ferguson told the then-West Ham manager that Morrison was “A brilliant footballer. Brilliant ability. Top class ability. Needs to get away from Manchester and start a new life.” After some initial success, he was moved out on loan after failing to nail down a first team slot. Now at Lazio, he barely plays a game, at a crucial time in his development when he needs as much game time as possible.
A bad temperament mixed with the arrogance of being so talented, Vitor’s youth is doing him no favours. If he pulls himself together, he still has time to reach his potential, but he doesn’t have long. Any more misdemeanours and he’ll be out on his ear, and how he’ll regret it in the years to come.