Little was known of Paulo Henrique in Turkey, perhaps even after he joined Trabzonspor AŞ in summer 2011, but the last couple of months have changed all that.
Urbain Braems, who coached Trabzonspor in the early 1990s, had recommended the Brazilian striker after he caught the Belgian's eye while on loan at KVC Westerlo from Desportivo Brasil. However, two previous South American signings had failed to settle at Trabzonspor and Paulo Henrique looked like making it a third – being overshadowed by Burak Yılmaz in his first season and restricted by injury in 2012/13.
This term, however, has been completely different, with the forward's seven goals in six UEFA Europa League preliminary games making the 24-year-old the top scorer in qualification. Having previously struck in a 1-1 UEFA Champıons League third qualifying round draw with SL Benfica last season, he is now Trabzonspor's leading foreign scorer in European competition.
Paulo Henrique – who as an sc Heerenveen player between 2007 and 2010 won the Dutch Cup – has taken that form onto the domestic stage. He opened his Süper Lig account for the campaign in Saturday's 1-0 home victory over in-form Kardemir Karabükspor. Impressing with his strength and technique, Paulo Henrique later explained his target for the forthcoming UEFA Europa League group stage, which gets under way when Trabzonspor travel to Apollon Limassol FC on Thursday, with SS Lazio and Legia Warszawa also in Group J.
"We have made a good start to the season and the team are stronger for the new signings," said the Clube Atlético Mineiro and SE Palmeiras old boy. "I am in form and feel very good. We are just a few days away from the Europa League – it's not an easy group but we have the ability to reach the knockout rounds. I want to continue scoring and contributing. My target is 15 goals in the competition.
"Up to now I have played in Brazil, the Netherlands and Belgium, but the footballing atmosphere in Turkey is totally different," continued Paulo Henrique, who has hit seven goals in 56 Süper Lig appearances. "It's something I've never experienced before. People are showing huge interest in me. I can hardly walk on the streets. Whenever I go to a restaurant, they don't even let me pay the bill."
Naming his favourite league as Italy's Serie A, the attacker – whose side visit Lazio to conclude the group on 12 December – added: "I have always wanted to play there one day. It would be great to play for Inter for example."
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