Liverpool are set to sign Uruguayan superstar Darwin Nunez from Portuguese club Benfica. LFCTR takes a look at the inspiring journey Nunez has had at one of the biggest football clubs in the world.
Darwin Nunez and his family lived in the poorest part of a place called Artigas. A city located just on the border of the neighboring country, Brazil, and the furthest from the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo.
His father worked as a construction worker, while his mother collected and sold plastic bottles, to ensure food was put on the table for Darwin and his brother. Sometimes they would go to bed hungry, but her mother would put her boys ahead of her if there wasn’t enough food.
Besides lack of money and food, Darwin and his family regularly had to deal with flooding from heavy rains, damaging properties across the city.
Darwin and his brother practiced football every day right after school and managed to play for the Peñarol youth team in Montevideo, miles from their home. Football wasn’t just a hobby for both of them, it became an opportunity to change their lives.
This opportunity came true when Junior Nunez (Darwin’s brother) made a huge move and decided to return to Artigas to work full time, so he could take care of their mother and father. He told Darwin to stay with Peñarol to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Darwin never forgot the sacrifice his brother made for him, calling him his “hero” after the selfless action he took. Eventually, Darwin had to repay his brother and parents for all their hard work, moving them all to Montevideo, with the help of his agent.
The Uruguayan striker settled in well in the capital and rose through the ranks of football. However, he encountered another hurdle while playing in the Third Division. Darwin suffered a torn ACL, which put him out of commission for months. It was his brother, Junior, who once again got him through the tough time in his career.
Liverpool-linked Nunez has been working hard to get back into shape, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by Peñarol’s manager, who has been impressed with the effort he’s put in. So much so that he gave him a chance in the first team.
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Darwin played in pain for some time and had to seek help from doctors to relieve the pain, so he could continue playing. The Benfica striker came on as a substitute on his debut against rivals River Plate but ended up re-injuring his knee, leaving the pitch in tears. This setback put Nunez out for a while and he had to undergo surgery.
It was an important period in the career of Nunez, who felt his career might be over and it was time to quit. However, he was not going to be stopped and he fought like he had all his life.
Darwin returned and continued to impress, earning him a call-up to the U20 national team. This is where he got his big break, after being scouted by European teams. Spanish club Almeria made their move for the striker in 2019, paying Peñarol €6m for the transfer.
Despite not being promoted with Almeria, Darwin Nunez caught the eye of European giants Benfica. The Portuguese side bought him for a club record (at the time) 24 million euros. Such a decision was unthinkable just a few years ago.
His first season with Benfica was tough, but Nunez being Nunez was determined like never before to become the best. In 2019, he made his debut for the Uruguay first team, in a season where he became the league’s best player alongside future Liverpool team-mate Luis Diaz.
At the end of the journey to the top for Darwin Nunez is his record-breaking move to Liverpool. After finishing top scorer in the Portuguese league, Nunez is now set to join one of the biggest clubs in the world. An amazing and inspiring journey so far, but there’s more to come.
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