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Featured Image Credit: Tom Wood/Instagram
If you have ever had the pleasure of playing the Football Manager series then you will understand the often-exhilarating process of 'catching feelings' for a newgen.
As you steadily progress through your save, real-world players retire and their places are taken by fictional replacements.
Although they lack a genuine game face or stats based off real life attributes, it's common knowledge to become attached to these randomly generated characters in the virtual world.
And somebody who knows that feeling all too well is Tom Wood, the FM die-hard who rewarded Brazilian wonderkid with a special place in his heart - and house.
To the dismay of partner Natalie, the 33-year-old paid tribute to prolific striker Bruno by framing a shirt of the European Golden Boy winner in his living room following a heroic performance in a Champions League final.
Wood, a manager of a private tennis club, began a journeyman save on Football Manager 2015 in the depths of Poland's second division before Dutch side Ajax came knocking.
It was here when the stat-packed youngster emerged from an afternoon of scouting for wonderkids.
"I was doing the usual scouting of the Brazilian leagues, looking for regens when I spotted Bruno for around £500k." Wood, who is also a part-time digital artist, tells SPORTbible.
"I took him to Holland where he hit the ground running."
He certainly hit the ground running. Following his induction into Wood's first team plans, the Brazilian quickly became a key member after being deployed on the left.
In fact, Bruno scored that many goals he was soon given the crucial Deep Lying Forward role. It worked a treat in an attacking system full of talent.
"Initially starting on the left of a Van Gaal inspired 3-4-3, he bagged goal after goal cutting in on to his right foot." explains Wood.
"After a couple of seasons, I finally moved him upfront, where he won the European Golden Boy for three consecutive seasons, breaking goal-scoring records in the meantime."
In the 2024/25 season alone, Bruno averaged a rating of 7.77 in the Eredivisie after scoring 36 goals in all competitions. Not a bad record, to say the least.
His legendary status was later solidified in the final stages of his career, when he bagged a winner in the Champions League final before lifting a deserved World Player of the Year award.
He also helped Tom achieve his first-ever undefeated season on Football Manager.
To celebrate the wonderkid-turned-elite forward's remarkable in-game achievements, a framed shirt of the newgen now sits pride of place in his living room.
"He's been hanging on my wall ever since," says Tom.
"It's a great conversational piece when we have friends around and credit to my partner, Natalie, for allowing me to keep him up over the years. She's not a big fan of it!
"Also, without the framed shirt, I wouldn't have been able to take part in the first-ever Copa Managria at the old Football Manager studios. He won the contest to enter the competition."
Tom continues to play Football Manager, years on from Bruno's heroics in the Ajax set-up. "To me, the game is an escape from reality." he says. "Especially this last year during the pandemic. It's been a lifesaver."
Let's hope the story of this 500k bargain buy is heard around the land. It certainly deserves to be.