27 year old Brazilian striker Wendell Lira has announced he is retiring from soccer in order to play FIFA full time and launch a gaming YouTube channel.
In an unexpected career move, 27-year-old pro soccer player Wendell Lira has announced his retirement from the sport - or, at least, the portion of it that is played outdoors. The former striker made the announcement earlier this week, but the biggest surprise for media officials was his confirmation that he was hanging up his boots at Estádio Vila Nova with the intent to play FIFA full time, in tandem with launching a brand new game-focused YouTube channel. This is the first recorded incident of someone retiring early to take up the sport in digital form, though only time will tell if Lira can truly excite FIFA fans in the world of eSports.
While the Brazilian player bid his time in lower league Brazilian clubs, he's no stranger to the spotlight: his astoundingly acrobatic bicycle kick from last year won him the 2015 FIFA Puskas Award, which essentially means he scored the best goal out of the entire year. To claim the trophy, the comparative minnow beat out much bigger fish like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and rumor-ladden Paul Pogba.
Unfortunately, things haven't gone so smoothly for Lira since. The Brazilian confirmed that the main reason for his early retirement was due to a longstanding struggle with recurrent injuries, and if he routinely attempted goals like his Puskas Award winner, we can certainly understand why his body might feel pretty battered. While most players follow their soccer careers with coaching licenses or backroom staff roles, Lira states he wants to 'become FIFA world champion' on the digital front - a lofty ambition for anyone, but even moreso for someone new to eSports entirely.
While Lira's career path is certainly an interesting story, Electronic Arts will be hoping fans of the series can craft their own tales with the eventual release of FIFA 17. For the first time ever, the studio has announced a cutscene-intensive career narrative mode called The Journey, which puts players into the boots of a young Englishman named Alex Hunter. Based on how players perform on the pitch, they'll experience their impact on the life of the potential wonderkid over some years, either leading him to glory or mediocrity.
Since FIFA is on an annual release cycle, fans have high hopes that the new mode will breathe a breath of fresh air into the franchise, which has continued to make a fortune from the popular Ultimate Team mode over the last few years. In any event, Lira will have plenty of work ahead of him if he wishes to compete among the top eSports players, where the competition shows no signs of slowing down.
Wendell's channel - which now has over 50,000 subscribers - can be found here.
What do you think about Lira's career decision, Ranters? Do you think he can cut it in the eSports scene?