Puskas Award Winner Now Makes A Living Playing FIFA
Back in 2015 Wendell Lira managed to do what not many players are able to: get the better of Lionel Messi.
Thanks to his sublime bicycle kick goal scored for Goianesia in a Brazilian lower league game against Atletico Goianiense, he won the coveted Puskas Award.
Only 342 were in attendance to see the technical brilliance from Lira but someone managed to catch it on camera and it led to him garnering 46.7% of the votes for his strike.
Normally a triumph like this would propel a player into stardom but even though he got a move to second tier outfit Vila Nova, Lira would retire from football altogether aged 27 after recurring knee injuries.
With 82% of footballers on Brazil earning less than $250, he struggled to provide for his wife and daughter. And that FIFA ceremony in Switzerland back in 2015, ended up changing his fortunes dramatically.
The best FIFA player in the world at the time, Abdulaziz Alshehri, from Saudi Arabia was in attendance and many of the star footballers present were invited to test out their skills with the controller.
And while Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi rejected the proposal, Lira accepted and ended up destroying him 6-1 with Real Madrid.
Fast forward to the present day and Lira has over 565,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 32 million views overall. More importantly, he now earns much more playing FIFA on a console than he did on a football pitch.
Olha a entrevista pôs jogo :joy::joy::joy: pic.twitter.com/Jr8IwuHaBB
- Wendell Lira (@wendelllira) January 19, 2019
Snapped up up by a sports marketing company, Lira was handed a five-year contract to represent them in tournaments.
As per the BBC, his profession entails of him doing just that, while he also provides regular content on his channel and makes money through sponsorships and adverts. The rise of eSports is next level, as is the money and interest in it - with Brazil's leading e-athlete said to be worth £230,000.
Back in 2016, Lira told Globe Esporte that his dream was to "become FIFA world champion" but even if he fails to achieve that, his story has been a massive success regardless.