Footballer accused of burning down own house
Was he suffering from depression?
MUNICH, Germany - Maybe the expectations were just too high, and injuries appear to have been another important factor why Bayern Munich’s Brazilian defender Breno has to stand trial on arson charges from Wednesday onwards.
The 22-year-old faces up to one year in prison if the Munich court finds him guilty of burning down his villa in the Bavarian city on September 19.
The verdict will also determine his future in football as a contract at Italian club Lazio depends on the decision of the German judges.
Breno’s contract at Germany’s biggest club Munich runs out at the end of the month and one of his last moments at the club was getting a medal as a squad member after they lost the Champions League final on May 19.
Breno Vinicius Borges came to Munich at age 18 in January 2008 for a huge fee of 12 million euros (15 million dollars) from Sao Paulo amid huge expectations.
“I am convinced that he will become a great player and that he will give Bayern a lot of joy,” then coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said.
Former Munich striker Giovane Elber saw a future “world class player just as (then team-mate) Lucio” in the teenager, and then general manager Uli Hoeness also believed Breno would become one of the world’s best defenders.
But things went very differently for Breno, who according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) once said that his main childhood joy was football in a family where the father was absent most of the time and fighting a drinking problem while the mother suffered from depression.
“Breno says he cried a lot as a child, but he has this smile when he recalls how much he loved to play ball,” the SZ said Monday.
But playing ball in Germany was not at easy as in Brazil, as cold temperatures and the language barrier in the new country made it difficult for Breno to acclimatise.
Injuries did their share as well, most notably when he ruptured the cruciate knee ligament in March 2010 when he was just about to show his huge potential while on loan at Nuremberg.
Breno required several operations and the misery possibly just culminated on that September 19, 2011, when Munich club doctors told him that he may require yet another operation.
Hours later, shortly after midnight, the villa was ablaze.
Breno soon became a suspect, spent a few weeks in custody while club officials and his lawyer suggested that he was fighting personal problems, with Hoeness suggesting he was suffering from depression.
Breno himself may have hinted at that when he said in an interview before the fire: “I had less money and less luxury in Brazil but was a happy man. Here I have money but everything else is missing”.
Now the trial will determine his fate in what the SZ calls “a unique case in German football”.
Prosecutors believe there is enough evidence to pinpoint Breno as the offender despite some reportedly open questions such as his alcohol level on the fateful night.