First, he had moved abroad at an early age, without featuring in the first division or playing for one of Brazil's big clubs.
And second, his destination was Germany. Bayern Munich, or perhaps Borussia Dortmund might be followed back in Brazil in the closing stages of the Champions League, but the Bundesliga, even while it is shown on local TV, has not been considered a major attraction. It has come a disappointing fourth to the likes of the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A -- perhaps even fifth behind Ligue 1 with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and the star quality of Paris Saint-Germain. For all of its many virtues, the German league has lacked glamour. Even its team shirts have come across as garish and lacking in style.
Now, of course, the Bundesliga has a wonderful chance to gain global attention. For a while at least, the Bundesliga looks like it will be the only show in town, the first major league up and running in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. At the same time, this is an unparalleled opportunity for Germany-based South Americans to send a message back home.
In this opening round of restart matches there is no doubt as to which is the most interesting fixture from a South American perspective. The game on Monday night (or afternoon, South American time) between Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen should showcase some of the continent's finest young talent.
Interest will be high in Argentina due to the presence of midfielder Exequiel Palacios, recently acquired from River Plate. Tall, classy, versatile and elegant, Palacios has some of the young Lucho Gonzalez about him, and has already made an impact with the senior Argentina team. The game might be even more important for his compatriot Lucas Alario, seen by some a couple of years ago as the future centre-forward of the national team. In recent times, Alario has been overtaken by Lautaro Martinez of Inter Milan but now he has the stage to himself.
Leverkusen can also count on stalwart Chilean midfielder Charles Aranguiz, plus a pair of Brazilians. There is the teenage attacker Paulinho, who was in excellent form earlier this year for Brazil's Under-23s. He has struggled so far for first-team opportunities -- unlike the more experienced left-back Wendell, who has been on the fringe of an international call-up and now has the chance to compete with Atletico Madrid's Renan Lodi for a place in the Brazil team.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, new Venezuela coach Jorge Peseiro will be keen to watch Augsburg, with rangy forward Sergio Cordova an interesting graduate from the Venezuela side that came second at the 2017 U20 World Cup. Meanwhile, one of Cordova's teammates, former FC Dallas defensive midfielder Carlos Gruezo will be on the radar of recently appointed Ecuador boss Jordi Cruyff.
Augsburg's opponents, Wolfsburg, parade out William, a candidate to be Brazil's right-back of the future, something of a problem position for A Selecao. William was part of the squad that won Olympic gold four years ago but since has been forgotten. This is his chance to jog the memory of national team coach Tite.
At the same time as the Augsburg-Wolfsburg match, Hertha Berlin travels to Hoffenheim. There is plenty of South American interest in the Hertha team, starting with Santiago Ascacibar, who was once seen as the long-term successor to Javier Mascherano as Argentina's holding midfielder, but has slipped out of contention of late. Then there is gifted Brazilian Matheus Cunha, top scorer in the recent South American U23 tournament, and a player who will be looking to make a statement. Centre-forward has been a bit of a problem position for Brazil of late and Tite will surely be keeping tabs on Cunha. Finally, what does the future entail for Philippe Coutinho, currently on loan at leaders Bayern Munich, who visit Union Berlin on Sunday.
This round of the Bundesliga, then, would seem assured of a record audience -- with South American national team coaches glued to the action as never before. Latter-day Roberto Firminos, carving out a career in Germany, have never had it so good.