The story of Bruno Fernandes de Souza, theformer Flamengo goalkeeper, is well known in Brazil.
The man once tipped to be between the stickson home soil for Brazil at the 2014 World Cup and the dar-ling of the biggest fan basein the country has since swapped the pitch for prison.
He was convicted of murdering his former loverand mother of his son Bruninho, and sentenced to a 22-year jail sentence for his part inher disappearance and death.
The body of Eliza Samudio has never been found.
Now, following two failed attempts, the formerno.
1 is making another try at a career in thegame.
The issue has generated fierce debate in Brazil:should someone convicted of a crime of such brutality be allowed to walk back to a positionwhich could see them become an idol to young children across the country? Bruno’s name used to ring round the terracesof the Maracanã, for the biggest club in the most iconic stadium in the country.
Alongside Adriano, the former Inter Milanand Brazil striker, he was an integral part of the 2009 Brazilian league title win, whichcatapulted him to prominence and prompted familiar questions.
When would he play for the national side andwhich major European side would sign him? He wasn’t just the goalkeeper.
He was the captain.
But a short-lived romance with model ElizaSamudio ultimately derailed a promising career.
For Sam-udio, it would be fatal.
She fell pregnant during their brief affair, much to the anger of the football player, who had two young daughters with then-wifeDayanne.
Alongside best friend Macarrão, in October2009, Bruno assaulted his former lover, taking her back to his apartment where she was forcedto take abortion pills and what Samudio later described as “a bitter liquid”.
The attempt at a forced abortion failed, andBruno’s third child was born in early 2010.
Eliza’s efforts to force Bruno to recognisethe paternity and assume his financial responsibilities set an evil plan in motion.
In late May 2010, while the Brazilian leaguewas on hiatus for that year’s World Cup in South Africa, Bruno had Samudio taken tohis farm in the city of Esmeraldas, Minas Gerais, along with her four-month old son, Bruninho.
She would stay there until 4 June.
On that evening, Eliza was driven by Macarraoto Rua Araruama, in the Belo Horizonte neighbourhood of Santa Clara, supposedly to a flat she wasto be given by the goalkeeper.
Once there, she was tied up and strangledby professional hitman Marcos Aparecido dos Santos, known as “Bola”.
In 2013, the athlete was convicted for hispart in the death of his son’s mother.
Yet in 2020, just seven years later, a concreteoffer is on the table for the stopper to resume his football career.
Bruno has been serving a semi-open home programmesince July 2019, which grants him the right to work during the day, but at night he mustbe at his registered residence by 8.
00pm until 6.
In addition, he is to make a monthly courtappearance to justify his activities.
Operario de Varzea Grande ply their tradein the first division of the Mato Grosso State Championship.
The city of Varzea Grande is the second biggestin the state and the club, founded in 1949, has won 12 regional titles throughout itshistory.
Over recent years, the side has been losingground to rising outfits Cuiaba and Luverdense.
The signing of Bruno is seen as a way to helpthe club return to the top of their state football pyramid.
But unlike his salary at Flamengo, which wascounted in the hundreds of thousands of reais per month, the player is expected to be earningbetween 4 and 6, 000, typical of a club in the fourth tier.
At least two other sides showed interest insigning Bruno – Tupi, from the state of Minas Gerais, and Fluminense de Feira in Bahia.
Like Operario, it was hoped the acquisitionof Bruno would bring the club much needed publicity.
The athlete has made two previous attemptsto return to football.
In 2017 and with Boa Esporte, images of Brunosigning autographs for young children and fans caused a revolt among the club’s support.
Brazil, it turned out, was not ready to forgethis role in the death of a young woman quite so quickly.
From a legal perspective, Bruno is entitledto return to work.
The granting of that semi-open prison domesticregime is aimed at social reintegration, with the played deemed to have served “a necessaryamount of time in a closed regime”.
The change grants Bruno the right both toprocure a full-time job and reside at home with his second wife and youngest child.
The idea being to give the offender the bestpossible chance at rehabilitation.
As Bruno has always worked as a footballer, he has been given dispensation to pursue this path within the parameters established bythe Minas Gerais Supreme Court.
For him to return between the posts, his newclub will need to present to the court a contract as well as their travel schedule for the upcomingseason.
There is also no precedent in the BrazilianCode of Sporting Justice for banning a player due to a previous criminal conviction.
But there is – quite obviously – a moralperspective at play.
His crime was heinous.
Is he a suitable role model for children? At Boa Esporte he played just five times beforethe Supreme Federal Court ordered him back to prison.
His second foray was even shorter – in October2019 he lasted just 48 minutes with Poços de Caldas FC.
The club does not participate in officialtournaments and as such could not present to the court a suitable work schedule forthe player.
Now Bruno is making a third attempt to returnto the life that helped make his name, that turned him into the finest goalkeeper in Brazil’sdomestic league a decade ago.