Anderson Aquino has been setting Georgian football alight this season and is hoping to follow the footsteps of Michel Bastos and realise his dream of playing in the UEFA Champions League and Brazilian national side.
Aquino was loaned to FC Olimpi Rustavi from CA Paranaense at the start of the season, and 26 league goals have helped his club open up an 11-point lead over FC Dinamo Tbilisi and put him on course to be the division's first foreign top scorer. It is a strange turn of events for a player that turned to football from futsal aged 14 and made his Brazilian top-flight debut three years later with Atlético Paranaense before a succession of loans.
"I didn't know a lot about Georgia before and started to be interested in this country only after Atlético Paranaense concluded an agreement with Olimpi," Aquino told UEFA.com. "The Atlético bosses believed our performances in Georgia would be a good advertisement for the club in the European market. I am happy to find out about a new country and its culture and by no means am sorry for the decision to move here."
He was one of seven Brazilians to make the move to Olimpi this season but only two remain: Aquino and defender Alex Fraga have stayed on to play a key role in the club's title bid, with the aim of capturing a UEFA Champions League second qualifying round place. Whether Aquino will remain for that campaign is not clear.
"First, I need to wait for Atlético's decision," he said. "Perhaps there will be some offers from Brazilian or European clubs. As for my desire to play in UEFA Champions League qualifying, it depends if Olimpi get some new players during the close season to strengthen and if the team are going to attempt to reach the group stage. I have played in the Copa Sudamericana and I think highly of the Copa Libertadores yet
I feel the Champions League is the greatest and most spectacular football tournament in the world."
The other ambition that remains is a senior Brazil call-up. "My chances are not good, but I will not give up on the dream," Aquino said. "Some players didn't have a real opportunity like me early on but still reached their goals. Michel Bastos grew up at Atlético Paranaense's training ground, like me, and also played for the Brazilian U17 team, as I did too. After that he moved to Lille, then to Olympique Lyonnais and he made his debut for the Brazil team in November 2009."
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.