A Brazilian teen who could not afford a football jersey could soon meet his hero, Philippe Coutinho, after the player was moved by a picture of the boy watching his World Cup match in a shirt he had made himself.
As Brazil was playing against Costa Rica last Friday, photographer Bruno Itan was snapping away in Rio de Janeiro, posting a picture of two children watching the match on a big screen.
One of them, a young boy, was wearing a yellow shirt on which he’d written Coutinho’s name and number, 11.
Itan captioned the photo: “Here in the favela we’re all together to cheer Brazil.”
The photo went viral and Itan called on the internet to help him bring it to the Coutinho’s attention so he “he can see the inspiration he has caused in the favela boys.”
He named the boy as 12-year-old favela resident Wallace Rocha and hoped Coutinho might “send a message of encouragement to Wallace or maybe even a signed jersey.”
The picture was liked over 6,600 times on Instagram.
On Tuesday, its intended recipient, Philippe Coutinho reached out to Itan.
“The photo has made it here!” he wrote, adding that he had sent the photographer a private message to organise details.
Itan profusely thanked Coutinho, praising him for his “humility for responding to us from the favela” while in Russia for the World Cup.
“News about this great meeting soon!” he added.
Itan also shared the touching moment Coutinho called Wallace from Russia.
The Instagram post reads: "Here's more proof that Coutinho has a good heart. In the same day, from the other side of the world, Coutinho sent Wallace an official jersey from the Brazilian team as well as a backpack, sports shoes, football boots, and some other gifts, that will for sure improve his training this Saturday in the Vacaria na Vila Cruzeiro field. I can't tell you how Wallace's eyes were shining. Coutinho shows sympathy and humility."
Additional reporting by Ana De Oliva.