Marco Antonio: ‘next Neymar’ battling Crohn’s disease

May 28, 2018

 Six-year-old Marco Antonio has been called the 'next Neymar' in Brazil

Six-year-old Marco Antonio has been called the ‘next Neymar’ in Brazil

Marco Antonio, known as Marquinho, is a social media sensation who has reportedly caught the eye of Champions League winners Real Madrid and Barcelona.

But his path to success is under threat from the incurable digestive condition Crohn’s disease that leaves him curled up in agony.

Tiny Marco’s family are praying that he can follow in the footsteps of the diminutive Lionel Messi, who battled growth hormone deficiency to make it as a pro.

He revealed how competitive he is and thinks he was born with a talent for football.

 Also known as Marquinho, Marco Antonio is battling Crohn's disease

Also known as Marquinho, Marco Antonio is battling Crohn’s disease

 Tiny talent Marco Antonio has attracted the interest of Real Madrid and Barcelona

Tiny talent Marco Antonio has attracted the interest of Real Madrid and Barcelona

“Since he was little he’s been very impressive as a player. I believe he has a natural gift,” he said.

“It’s fun for him but he is also competitive and he doesn’t like losing.

“His dream is to become a professional football player – and he is going to be one because he’s been fighting for this since he was five months old.”

Marco’s ball-juggling skills first came to the world’s attention when a video of him doing kick-ups in a living-room went viral, amassing more than 12 million views on Instagram.

 Marco Antonio's ball-juggling skills have been seen by over 12 million people online

Marco Antonio’s ball-juggling skills have been seen by over 12 million people online

 His dad Felipe de Freitas believes his son can achieve his dream of becoming a professional footballer

His dad Felipe de Freitas believes his son can achieve his dream of becoming a professional footballer

That led to Brazilian football experts comparing the youngster to the world’s most expensive player, Neymar.

Marco’s teammates, many who dwarf the extraordinary talent, said they admire his touch, technique, passing ability and dribbling, as well as his almost permanent smile.


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However, behind the scenes he has struggled with Crohn’s disease – a condition that forms debilitating ulcers in his intestines.

Crohn’s disease can appear at any age, but it is most often diagnosed in people between 13 and 30 years of age.

 Marco Antonio has suffered with Crohn's disease since he was a baby and has been treated for his crippling stomach cramps since the age of six

Marco Antonio has suffered with Crohn’s disease since he was a baby and has been treated for his crippling stomach cramps since the age of six

 Despite his woes, the diminutive Marco Antonio always plays football with a smile on his face

Despite his woes, the diminutive Marco Antonio always plays football with a smile on his face

Marco’s family discovered he had the disease as a baby and he began treatment aged just six months old.

The usual treatment is medicine to stop the inflammation in the intestine and to prevent flare-ups, which is why Marco takes immunomodulators and immunosuppressants.

Marco also eats a balanced diet free of gluten, lactose and processed foods. He swims regularly and makes beaded collars to sell to fund his expenses.

His mum Mariane Nicoletti, 26, said the illness had almost affected them more than their son.

 Marco Antonio's touch, technique, passing ability and dribbling have wowed his teammates

Marco Antonio’s touch, technique, passing ability and dribbling have wowed his teammates

 To control his Crohn's disease, Marco Antonio takes immunomodulators and immunosuppressants

To control his Crohn’s disease, Marco Antonio takes immunomodulators and immunosuppressants

“It was very, very hard for all of us,” she divulged.

“Treatment is harder in his case, he doesn’t react well to it.

“There’s no cure for this disease. But he started playing football on the same day he started walking.

“When he turned three he started playing with five-year-olds. He plays everywhere we go. He plays at the club, in the backyard, everywhere.

“He is overcoming all of our expectations. He never gives up. Not even in his worst moments, he quickly overcomes it. He is a warrior – a great warrior.

 Since the age of three, Marco Antonio has always had a ball at his feet

Since the age of three, Marco Antonio has always had a ball at his feet

 Marco Antonio has been called a 'great warrior' because he's never given up on his dream to be a footballer

Marco Antonio has been called a ‘great warrior’ because he’s never given up on his dream to be a footballer

“I watch him playing at the pitch and sometimes he lowers down and puts his hands on his tummy.

“I know he is in pain. He leaves the pitch for a few minutes until the cramps eases down. Then he goes back to the game and carries on playing.”

Before moving to Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy at the age of 13, Messi was treated for GHD with injections that aided his growth.

 During games, Marco Antonio can often be troubled by severe cramps caused by Crohn's disease

During games, Marco Antonio can often be troubled by severe cramps caused by Crohn’s disease
 But Marco Antonio eats a balanced diet free of gluten, lactose and processed foods to combat his issues
But Marco Antonio eats a balanced diet free of gluten, lactose and processed foods to combat his issues

 Coach Edson Yoshiter Vema Jnr believes Marco Antonio has a bright future in the game

Coach Edson Yoshiter Vema Jnr believes Marco Antonio has a bright future in the game

 Marco Antonio's heroic story features in The History of Football airing on History from May 28- June 10

Marco Antonio’s heroic story features in The History of Football 

The Catalan giants reportedly financed the treatment as they groomed the exciting talent.

Coach Edson Yoshiter Vema Jnr believes Marco has a bright future in the game and he revealed his happy demeanour has a positive affect on the whole squad.

“Whenever you feel down Marco gives you energy to persevere,” he said.

“When a six-year-old with a health problem comes to play with a beautiful smile, it’s priceless.”

SOURCE: thesun.co.uk


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