Lesson learned for Lincoln
For a 16-year-old footballer, learning experiences come thick and fast. Especially if the player in question has already made their top-flight debut – under legendary coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, no less – and is the captain of the Brazilian team at a FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Lincoln's latest lesson came just over a week ago at Chile 2015. With his team cruising at 2-0 up against Guinea in their final group-stage game, the talented playmaker lost the plot, reacting to being pushed by an opposition player after the half-time whistle had been blown and getting himself sent off.
Although Brazil went on to seal a comfortable 3-1 win, the No11 was restricted to a place in the stands during the edgy 1-0 victory over New Zealand in the Round of 16. "It was torture to watch it from the outside," Lincoln told FIFA.com. "I wanted to jump on to the pitch but no matter how much I shouted, there was nothing I could do to help. It was frustrating and I hope it doesn't happen again."
Defeat by the Young All Whites would have weighed on the Porto Alegre-born starlet, a product of the same Gremio academy that Ronaldinho emerged from. As he put it, "I would've felt responsible. You should always keep a cool head, all the more so if you're the captain. You have to lead by example and I didn't."
Lincoln was, by his own admission, surprised to be handed the captaincy, but is well aware of everything that the armband carries with it. "I've always known what my responsibility is, which is why I can say that I've learned my lesson in this instance. It's something that'll stand me in good stead in both my life and my career. I should never retaliate if I'm attacked, even when I'm angry."
A meteoric rise It has been a whirlwind last year for the tricky left-footer, ever since Scolari spotted him dauntlessly running rings round established pros in a training session. "He asked me how old I was and when I said 15, he was shocked. As soon as I turned 16, I signed my first contract and he called me up to the first team. Since then he's been like a father to me," said the teenager, who lost his dad in 2011.
Because of his style of play, not to mention the club where he has learned his trade, Lincoln has inevitably been likened to Ronaldinho. Such comparisons flatter the youngster: "He's my role model. I've watched his videos and I use them as inspiration. Everyone I've spoken to who worked with him has told me that he never lost his humility, even when he was the hottest prospect. I'm trying to follow his example on that front too."
Lincoln made his first appearance in Brazil's Serie A in January this year and scored his first goal in April, after having shone during his country's conquest of the South American U-17 Championship in Paraguay. "Before we went there I promised my mum I'd come back a champion and I kept my word," he said, adding that he made "the same promise" ahead of the trip to Chile.
Candles and silverware? Next up for Brazil are holders Nigeria, whose impressive performances make them many people's favourites going into this heavyweight quarter-final encounter. "The key will be to make the most of our openings, both the gaps that they leave behind when they attack and those we create when we have the ball. That said, our style is based on possession and we mustn't change that," said the No11, who has chalked up one goal – from the penalty spot – and one assist in his three appearances in the tournament so far.
The attacking midfielder has every intention of adding to these statistics and has no desire to return home at this stage, even though that means more time away from his nearest and dearest. "When I'm not playing football I like to spend time with my family. We hold barbecues, dance samba and have fun. I actually play the drums – you won't catch me singing, though!" he enthused, while showing the FIFA.com cameras a video on his mobile phone.
Though he respects other musical tastes, Lincoln likes to put samba on loud before matches: "I do it because the dressing room should be a cheerful place." There could be even more revelry in the Brazil camp if Lincoln gets the late birthday present he has been dreaming about on Chilean soil: a taste of glory. He turns 17 on 7 November, the day before the final: "I've told everyone that I don't want to spend my birthday at home, but rather here in Chile. Here's hoping that wish comes true."