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Roberto Firmino

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Firmino with Brazil in 2018

Roberto Firmino Barbosa de Oliveira (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁuˈbɛɾtu fiɾˈmĩnu]; born 2 October 1991) is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Premier League club Liverpool and the Brazil national team as an attacking midfielder, forward or winger.

After starting his career with Figueirense in 2009, he spent four-and-a-half seasons at Hoffenheim. His 16 goals in 33 games for the 2013–14 Bundesliga season earned him the award for the league’s Breakthrough Player. In July 2015, he signed for Premier League club Liverpool. His creativity, goalscoring and work rate have earned him plaudits at Liverpool, with manager Jürgen Klopp referring to Firmino as the “engine” that propels the club’s counter-attacking system. He won the UEFA Champions League with the club in 2019.

Firmino made his international debut for Brazil in November 2014. He represented the nation at the 2015 Copa América, the 2018 FIFA World Cup and was part of the Brazil team that won the 2019 Copa América.

Club Career

Early Career

Born in Maceió, Alagoas, Firmino joined Figueirense’s youth setup in 2008, aged 17, after starting out at CRB. He was discovered by a dentist, Marcellus Portella. With the latter, he was mainly used as a defensive midfielder.

Firmino made his professional debut on 24 October 2009, coming on as a half-time substitute for Toninho in a 1–2 home loss against Ponte Preta, for the Série B championship. In January 2010 he was promoted to the main squad.

Firmino scored his first professional goal on 8 May 2010, netting the winner in an away success against São Caetano. He contributed with eight goals in 36 appearances during the season, as Figueira returned to Série A after a two-year absence.

Hoffenheim

Firmino signed with Hoffenheim in December 2010, with the contract running until June 2015. He formally arrived at Hoffenheim on 1 January 2011. Then Hoffenheim manager Ernst Tanner commented that they were “pleased to hire a Brazilian talent”. He made his debut a month later in a Bundesliga defeat against Mainz, where he came on as a 75th-minute substitute for Sebastian Rudy. He scored his first goal for the club on 16 April, the only goal of a league victory against Eintracht Frankfurt.

He was dropped from the first-team squad along with Chinedu Obasi at the end of November 2011 for showing up late for training, missing the league match against Bayer Leverkusen. He scored two more goals that season, against Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach. In the 2012–13 season, Firmino made 36 appearances and scored seven goals.

In July 2013, Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow made a €12 million bid for Firmino. Hoffenheim captain Andreas Beck hailed Firmino’s development as “outstanding” in August 2013. On 27 March 2014, Firmino extended his contract with the club, signing a three-year extension. He finished the 2013–14 Bundesliga season tied as the fourth highest scorer with 16 goals, and was named the league’s Breakthrough Player.

Firmino playing for 1899 Hoffenheim in 2014

Liverpool

On 23 June 2015, while he was competing for Brazil at the Copa América, Hoffenheim and Firmino agreed terms for him to transfer to Premier League club Liverpool for up to £29 million on conclusion of the tournament, subject to a work permit. Liverpool confirmed the signing the following day, subject to a medical. The deal was finalised on 4 July.

2015–16 Season

Firmino made his Liverpool debut in a pre-season friendly away to Swindon Town on 2 August, and his league debut a week later, replacing Jordon Ibe for the final 12 minutes of a 1–0 win at Stoke City. On 21 November, Firmino scored his first goal for Liverpool in a 4–1 victory over Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. In January 2016, Firmino was described by Paul Little of the Irish Examiner as steadily improving during his first season in England, although an inability to combine with centre forward Christian Benteke drew criticism.

However, in 2016, Firmino’s form improved as manager Jürgen Klopp played him alone up front in a False 9 role. He scored braces against Arsenal and Norwich City that month; the latter performance, in which he also assisted in a 5–4 win, earned comparisons to Raheem Sterling. With his form improved, Firmino was voted to be Liverpool’s Player of the Month in January. Firmino ended the season as Liverpool’s league top scorer with ten goals.

2016–17 Season

On 23 August, Firmino scored his first goal of the 2016–17 season, scoring in a 5–0 win over Burton Albion in the second round of the EFL Cup. Firmino scored his first league goals of the season in a 4–1 win over Leicester City, scoring a brace, on 10 September. On 29 October, Firmino scored in a 4–2 win over Crystal Palace, and on 6 November he scored in a 6–1 over Watford; the latter result saw Liverpool move to 1st position in the league table, the first time under Klopp. On 27 December, he scored in a 4–1 win over Stoke City. On 21 January 2017, Firmino scored a brace in a 2–3 home defeat to Swansea City. On 4 March, he scored the opening goal in a 3–1 win over Arsenal. On 8 April, Firmino scored the winning goal in a 2–1 win over Stoke City, and also scored the winning goal in the game against West Bromwich Albion, which Liverpool won 1–0, on 16 April. Firmino finished the season with 12 goals in 38 appearances.

2017–18 Season

Before the start of the 2017–18 season, Firmino switched his shirt number to 9, with new signing Mohamed Salah taking his number 11. Firmino scored his first goal of the new season on 12 August, scoring a penalty in a 3–3 draw with Watford. On 23 August, Firmino scored in a 4–2 win over Hoffenheim in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League play-off, with Liverpool winning 6–3 on aggregate to qualify for the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League group stage. On 27 August, he scored the opening goal in a 4–0 win over Arsenal.[46] On 13 September, Firmino scored and missed a penalty in a 2–2 draw with Sevilla in the first match of the Champions League. On 17 October, Firmino scored twice in a 7–0 Champions League away win over Maribor, helping Liverpool to the joint-largest away win of the competition; and the largest away win by an English club.

On 28 October, Firmino scored in a 3–0 win over Huddersfield Town. On 21 November, he scored twice in a 3–3 draw with Sevilla in the Champions League. On 2 December, Firmino scored twice in a 5–1 away win over Brighton & Hove Albion. On 6 December, he scored in a 7–0 win over Spartak Moscow in the Champions League. On 17 December, he scored in a 4–0 away win over Bournemouth; a result which saw Liverpool become the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive away games by a margin of at least three goals. On 22 December, Firmino scored the equalizing goal in a 3–3 away draw with Arsenal. On 26 December, Firmino scored twice in a 5–0 win over Swansea City.

On 5 January 2018, during a FA Cup match against rivals Everton, Firmino was the subject of controversy following a clash with Everton defender Mason Holgate. Holgate pushed Firmino into the advertising boards, which was followed by the pair exchanging words, with Firmino seemingly insulting the player. Following the match, Holgate accused Firmino of racially abusing him, which he denied. A day later, the Football Association opened an investigation on the matter. Nearly two months later, after they had took statements from 12 different players, several referees and consulted two Portuguese lip-readers, the Football Association cleared Firmino of any offence as a result of “insufficient evidence”.

On 14 January, Firmino scored in a 4–3 home win over Manchester City; which saw Liverpool end City’s unbeaten league run. On 27 January, Firmino scored and missed a penalty in a 2–3 defeat to West Bromwich Albion in the fourth round of the FA Cup. On 30 January, he scored in a 3–0 away win over Huddersfield Town. On 11 February 2018, Firmino scored in a 2–0 away win over Southampton. On 14 February, Firmino scored in a 5–0 away win over Porto in the first leg of the Champions League round of sixteen.[68] On 24 February, he scored in a 4–1 win over West Ham United.[69] On 17 March, he scored in 5–0 win over Watford. On 10 April, he scored in a 2–1 win over Manchester City in the second leg of the quarter-finals of the Champions League; which saw Liverpool advance to the semi-finals with a 5–1 aggregate win.Four days later, on 14 April, he scored in a 3–0 win over Bournemouth. On 24 April, he scored twice in Liverpool’s 5–2 win over Roma in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals. On 29 April, Firmino signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool. Firmino started and played the whole 90 minutes in the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final, with Liverpool losing 3–1.

During the season, Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mané made up a prolific attacking quarter, dubbed the “Fab Four”, in reference to the rock band The Beatles, also from the same city as the club. Following the mid-season exit of Coutinho, the three remaining players were dubbed as the “Fab Three”, with the trio having a total of 91 goals between them at the end of the season. Firmino was Liverpool’s joint top goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League, together with Salah, with 11 goals. Firmino was also included in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season. The 2017–18 season was Firmino’s most prolific in his Liverpool career; as he scored 27 goals in all competitions.

2018–19 Season

After going goalless in all three matches played in August, Firmino scored his first goal of the season in a 2–1 Premier League win over Leicester City on 1 September. On 15 September he scored in Liverpool’s 2–1 league win over Spurs at Wembley, a game that saw him leave the field 15 minutes before the end with an eye injury. Three days later he came off the bench to score the stoppage time winner in Liverpool’s 3–2 Champions League win against Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield. On 29 December, Firmino scored his first Liverpool hat-trick in a 5–1 win over Arsenal, scoring two goals in three minutes and a second half penalty, becoming the highest scoring Brazilian player in Premier League history. On 19 January 2019, he scored Liverpool’s 1000th goal at Anfield in the Premier League era when he netted in a 4–3 win over Crystal Palace.

On 1 June, Firmino started for Liverpool in the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final against Tottenham, making a comeback after missing the last few weeks of the season with injury. Firmino lasted 60 minutes before being substituted as Liverpool won the match 2–0 to claim the title.

2019–20 Season

On 14 August 2019, Firmino came off the bench in the 2019 UEFA Super Cup final against Chelsea in a match that Liverpool won 5–4 on penalties. The game had finished 2–2 after 120 minutes, with Firmino setting up both goals for Sadio Mané, before Firmino scored the first penalty in the shoot-out win.

Firmino with Liverpool during a UEFA Champions League match against Spartak Moscow in 2017.

International Career

Firmino said that it was his “dream” to play in the national team though he had no “contact with national team manager Dunga”. On 23 October 2014, Firmino received his first call up to Brazil national football team for the friendly matches against Turkey and Austria. He commented, “I’m very happy about the nomination and would especially like to thank the team”. He debuted in a 4–0 win over Turkey on 12 November, replacing fellow debutant Luiz Adriano for the last 17 minutes. Firmino scored his first goal six days later in the latter match, a 2–1 away win.

In May 2015, Firmino was included in Brazil’s 23-man squad for the 2015 Copa América to be held in Chile. On 21 June, he scored in a 2–1 defeat of Venezuela to qualify the Seleção for the knockout stage as Group C winners.

In May 2018 he was named in Tite’s final 23 man squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. On 2 July, Firmino scored Brazil’s second goal in a 2–0 win over Mexico in the round of sixteen having come on as a late substitute.

In May 2019, Firmino was included in Brazil’s 23-man squad for the 2019 Copa América.

Firmino playing against Austria in 2018
Firmino training with Brazil in 2014

Style of Play

At Hoffenheim, Firmino primarily played as an attacking midfielder, or as a second striker, but was also utilised as a forward, winger or central midfielder, with Firmino using his speed, close control and vision wherever he is deployed. After initially starting as a left winger at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers, new manager Jürgen Klopp utilised Firmino more centrally, initially as a False 9. However, after impressing under Klopp’s pressing system, Firmino established himself as Liverpool’s first choice centre-forward by the 2017–18 season. Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo referred to him as “a true Liverpool number nine”, whose “numbers are up there with Harry Kane and Sergio Agüero.”

Ryan Babel, a teammate of Firmino’s at Hoffenheim, described him as “A tricky player. He can dribble, shoot, he has a great shot, he can play a lot of through balls and his assists are very good”, while also praising a heading ability which would not be common amongst other players of Firmino’s slender build and relatively small stature, a unique trait which journalist and ESPN contributor Michael Cox has also noted. Babel also stated that Firmino had a humble mentality and no problems with attitude. Manager Hemerson Maria also stated that he was impressed with Firmino’s “strong personality and mentality.” In addition to his technical skills, creativity, link-up play, and goalscoring, Firmino has also been praised by his managers, teammates, and pundits for his positional sense, mobility, intelligent movement, and ability to make attacking runs off the ball, which often draws opposing players out of position and creates space for his teammates.

Due to his energy and defensive work-rate off the ball, Klopp has referred to Firmino as the “engine” that propels the team’s relentless counter-attacking system; “If he loses the ball, he fights for it back. If he loses it again, he fights for it. He looks like the engine of the team.” The suitability of Firmino’s playing style to Klopp’s pressing system has meant that Firmino was referred to as “Liverpool’s most important player” on several occasions during the 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons. Due to Firmino’s wide range of skills, Thierry Henry described him as “the most complete striker in the [Premier] [L]eague.”

Firmino is also well known for his popular “no-look” goals.One of his best known goal celebrations, ‘the Matador’, features in the FIFA video game FIFA 19.

Firmino is known for his creativity, link-up play, goalscoring and workrate.

Personal Life

Firmino married Larissa Pereira in his hometown in June 2017. They have two daughters. Firmino has been given the affectionate nickname “Bobby” by Liverpool fans and players – a shortening of his first name “Roberto”.

In December 2016, Firmino was arrested for drink driving. He was fined £20,000 and had his driving licence revoked for a year when sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court in February 2017.

Career Statistics

Club

As of match played 1 June 2019

International

As of 8 July 2019

International Goals

Scores and results list Brazil’s goal tally first

Honours

Liverpool

  • UEFA Champions League: 2018–19;[126] runner-up: 2017–18
  • UEFA Super Cup: 2019
  • Football League Cup runner-up: 2015–16
  • UEFA Europa League runner-up: 2015–16

Brazil

  • Copa América: 2019

Individual

  • UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season: 2017–18
  • Bundesliga Breakthrough of the Season: 2013–14
  • Samba Gold: 2018

Described by Jürgen Klopp as the ‘engine’ of his team, Roberto Firmino is a Champions League-winning striker who does so much more than just score goals.

Blessed with prodigious physical gifts that complement his exceptional footballing talents, the Brazil international leads Liverpool’s line with a fearsome and influential combination of industry and ingenuity.

Alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, Firmino forms part of one of Europe’s premier attacking trios and scored 43 goals over the course of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons to help the Reds reach back-to-back Champions League finals.

The first of those showpieces, against Real Madrid, ended in heartbreak but, 12 months on, Firmino recovered from a muscle injury in time to start versus Tottenham Hotspur.

Goals by Salah and Divock Origi in Madrid ensured Liverpool exorcised the memories of Kiev and lifted their sixth European Cup.

The No.9, who committed his long-term future to the Reds in April 2018, has become a firm fan favourite at Anfield since joining from Hoffenheim in the summer of 2015 and a new chant in his honour sound-tracked the club’s journey to glory at Estadio Metropolitano.

“There’s something that the Kop wants you to know, the best in the world is Bobby Firmino…”