Endrick delivers a preview showing of history to leave Brazil salivating for more

If there is one thing you can say about Endrick, Brazil’s match winner on a soporific spring night at Wembley, it is that he doesn’t hang around waiting. Timetables and calendars mean nothing to him. There are only two times on his internal clock: now and next.

Endrick was the standout player at Brazil’s biggest under-20 tournament at the age of 15. He made his senior debut for Palmeiras in October 2022, two months after his 16th birthday. By the end of that year, he had won a Brazilian championship medal — he has since added another to his collection — and signed for Real Madrid.

That’s a whole lot of great leaps forward. You would tell him to slow down if he didn’t keep sticking the landing.

After a while, these things generate their own momentum. So it was on Saturday evening, when the mere sight of him on the touchline, shirt tucked into his shorts like an Edwardian schoolboy, prompted a ripple of anticipation among the Brazil fans. At 17, he is already the owner of a palpable star aura; blur your eyes just a touch and you can almost see the celestial glow of potential and possibility.

This was not his senior international debut. He came off the bench in a World Cup qualifier against Colombia in November and did so again against Argentina five days later. It was, however, his first ever match in Europe — an opportunity to formally introduce himself on what Brazilians call the old continent.

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. Endrick buried his, following up after Vinicius Junior’s shot was saved by Jordan Pickford and knocking the ball into the empty net. It was no masterpiece but the sense of lift-off, of talent unshackled by the usual laws, was unmistakable.

It felt for all the world like a preview showing of history.

Endrick spins away in celebration with Vinicius Junior in pursuit (Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

We must, of course, exercise a little caution here. Some 17-year-old prodigies make good on their ability; many more do not. For every Vinicius Junior, there is a Jean Chera or a Lulinha, players whose teenaged brilliance did not translate into success at senior level. While Endrick can already claim to have achieved more in the game than those two examples, his elevated status — especially outside Brazil — means that he also has further to fall already.

Still, it is difficult not to be swept up by Endrickmania. For one thing, he is just a lovely footballer, equal parts miniature battering ram and phantom menace, capable of both knocking down the front door and sneaking in the back. He is not a walking YouTube highlights package like, say, Neymar was at his age — he is also, frankly, not quite as good as Neymar was — but he is unusually complete. Still improving, too.

That, coupled with some PR work that straddles the line between savvy and cynical (case in point: his endearing but puddle-deep statement of admiration for, err, Sir Bobby Charlton in his post-match interview), has won him a large fanbase. A broad one, as well: he is a rare player who seems to transcend club affinities in Brazil. You don’t have to be a Palmeiras fan to fall in love with Endrick.

Some of this is probably circumstantial. A lot of the excitement about Endrick boils down to what he might do — and represent — for the national team. It is now a long time since Brazil have had a genuinely world-class striker. Richarlison, nominally the incumbent in that position, is a good player with an impressive goal return for his country, but you would not put him in the very top category. The same is true of Gabriel Jesus, who has done most of his best work in the yellow jersey from the right wing.

Endrick is not yet ready to be Brazil’s first-choice No 9. But the speed of his progress has been such that you would not bet against him making the position his own within the year. Being at Real Madrid — he finally moves there in July — will only add fresh layers to his game, even if Kylian Mbappe’s expected arrival may restrict his playing time.

That, though, comes later. For now he can enjoy the sugar-sweet present and bask in the reflected light of a goal that doubled as an affirmation.

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The teenager enjoys the adulation of the Brazil support (Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

“I’m still getting my head around it,” he said after the final whistle. “I’m not the kind of person who cries often, but I’m holding it back now. I’m really happy.”

That chimed with his celebration, which was that of a man — a boy, really — who recognised the weight of the moment, however obliquely.

No matter what he goes on to achieve in his career, no matter how many worlds he conquers, Endrick will never have a moment quite like this again.



Endrick interview: Real Madrid’s next big Brazilian talent on his ‘dream move’

(Top photo: Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

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