General

Joao Mendes, son to Brazilian legend Ronaldinho Gaucho, has been given his first contract with Brazilian club Cruzeiro.

The 14-year-old has represented Cruzeiro in the club’s youth system for the past year and has now signed a five-year training contract with the club.

According to the club’s director of grassroots football, Amarildo Ribeiro, they are optimistic about what the teenager can bring to Cruzeiro both at youth level and eventually the first team.

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“Today, we signed the contract of Joao Mendes, who is a promising player with interesting characteristics and who, I believe, will soon be integrating with our professional team,” he told the club’s official website.

“He is a tall player with high technical quality. A player who can play both as a box player and as a second striker. He is a player who, even with his size, has speed and finishes very well.”

Despite being just 14 and only signing a training contract, Mendes is already harbouring hopes of scoring for the Cruzeiro first team.

“It was the team that opened the door for me. I have a great affection for the club,” he told the club’s official website.

Training

“The training is very good; the structure is very good. It’s the biggest club in Brazil and it’s a pleasure to play here. It’s a very happy day. Thanks to the board for the confidence you have given to me. I also thank God for me being able to play every day.

“It is a dream that one day I can sign the professional contact with Cruzeiro, play professionally, score a goal in the crowded Mineirao and dedicate it to the fans.”

Mendes reportedly kept his father’s identity a secret in hopes of being judged by his ability alone.