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SOCCER

Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior tells AS: “Now I want more”

Vinícius Júnior spoke to AS at a gala celebrating the first birthday of the Instituto Vini Jr, a charity that aims to help educate Brazilian children.

Update:
Vinícius Júnior spoke to AS at a gala celebrating the first birthday of the Instituto Vini Jr, a charity that aims to help educate Brazilian children.

The humble hero. Vinícius Júnior is, without doubt, the man of the moment in his native Brazil. Not only on the pitch, where he is now the country’s most valuable soccer player, ahead of Neymar. Off it, too.

Over $100,000 raised at Instituto Vini Jr birthday gala

The Rio de Janeiro gala he held on Friday to celebrate the first birthday of his charity, the Instituto Vini Jr, was a complete success. It included an auction that raised around $125,000 for the organisation, which seeks to use technology and sport to help educate children in Brazil.

“I’ve always dreamed of this moment that’s happening here,” Vinícius told those present at the gala. “I’ve always dreamed of fulfilling my family’s dream of helping those who are in as much need as I was when I was little. It’s only been a year since we started our work at the Instituto Vini Jr, but we’re already helping a lot of people.”

The Real Madrid forward then spoke to AS. “For me, celebrating the first anniversary of my charity and everything we’re doing is just as important as scoring in the Champions League final,” he said, in reference to his winner against Liverpool in May, a goal that secured Madrid’s 14th European title.

It’s been a really special season and now I want more,” he added.

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Real Madrid set to hand Vinícius bumper new contract

I think Vinícius is going to win the Ballon d’Or,” Madrid president Florentino Pérez told an interview with the Spanish TV show El Chiringuito earlier this month. Pérez added that the club will try to extend his contract as soon as possible, and declared: “There’s one thing he always says: ‘I never want to leave Real Madrid.’” Los Blancos will hand Vinícius a contract that rewards him for his stellar performances, following a season in which he established himself as a top-level star, scoring 22 goals and supplying 16 assists.

And not only do basic stats bear witness to his superlative campaign; so too does artificial intelligence. Olocip, a firm that applies AI to soccer, ranked him behind only Kylian Mbappé last season. Other than the Paris Saint-Germain striker, nobody proved more beneficial to their team. Vinícius generated 21.38 more goals than expected in 2021/22, while Mbappé, who came so close to becoming the Brazilian’s club-mate at the Bernabéu, managed a score of 24.66. With 21.15, Tottenham’s Heung-min Son completes the podium. RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku, a player tipped for a move to Madrid in the future, was fourth, with 19.67.

Host of major soccer stars contribute to charity auction

Vinícius revelled in what was a magical night in Rio. Dressed in an elegant white suit made by Dolce & Gabbana, he was the perfect host. With an ear-to-ear smile on his face, he danced, sang, and was a picture of enjoyment as he relished the evening with his family. It was also an emotional occasion for him; he dissolved into tears when he took to the stage to deliver a thank-you speech.

It wasn’t only items belonging to the Madrid star that were sold at the auction. Major soccer figures such as Tite, Ronaldinho, Karim Benzema, Kaká, Marcelo, Thibaut Courtois and Lucas Paquetá also contributed, donating shirts and other garments to the event, at which Brazilian media personalities such as the YouTuber Felipe Neto and the streamer Casimiro Miguel were present.

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