It was only a matter of time until it happened: a Brazilian soccer player has transitioned into an NFL kicker. After all, though this has been a tough year for Brazilians, they’re still considered the giants of world soccer. So it shouldn’t come as a big shock that among all those talented ball kickers there’s at least one who can dominate the position that gives football its name.
His name is Cairo Santos, and at 23-years-old, this man from Brasilia is already breaking records in Kansas City. He kicked the most points by a rookie in the Chiefs’ history, and also kicked the second most goals in NFL’s history (seven in one game).
But how exactly does a Brazilian begin his journey towards the NFL?
Growing up, a ball was never far from Cairo’s feet; like many Brazilians, he wanted to be a soccer player. “I always worshipped the No. 10 jersey of Brazil, the famous yellow shirt, and dreamed of playing in a World Cup or something like every kid does,” he told the Daily Mail.
Scoring a goal at the mythical Wembley Stadium in England was undoubtedly one of Cairo’s dreams, but he never imagined he’d do it wearing the red shirt of the Kansas City Chiefs and not the yellow shirt of the Brazilian national team and his idol Ronaldinho Gaucho.
But roughly a month ago, that’s just what he did during a London Chiefs vs. Detroit Lions NFL game in London.
“Brazil is so competitive and difficult to make it,” Santos told the BBC. “So my plan was to study here, learn the language and also figure out if I could stay and play soccer in the US.”
While studying in the United States as a 15 year-old foreign exchange student, his host brother convinced him to play high school football after seeing him kick a ball, and as they say, the rest is history. He finished high school in the United States, played college football, and became the first Brazilian to be signed by an NFL team.
The kicker position might not be the most celebrated in football, but I’m sure every soccer fan is still excited by Cairo’s natural transition from soccer to football. Many of us are left wondering one thing: How many more Cairos are out there? Not that I’d like the next Pelé to join the NFL, but it would be cool if some of the talented players who won’t make it in the competitive world of Brazilian soccer got to exploit their God-given skills by kicking the pig skin to the delight of thousands of fans.