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Forget Neymar. Yuri Andrade may just be the next big football name to come out of Brazil

The name Yuri Felicio de Andrade may not quite ring a bell to fans in the football world just yet. But in the virtual version, “Yuri_FPOLIS”, as he is better known, is taking the world by storm.

The 21-year-old is regarded by many as one of the rising stars in eFootball — formerly known as Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) — and will be part of Team #worldconnected at the Singapore 2021 Global Esports Games (GEG) from 18-19 December.

But few know that Yuri_FPOLIS is also a semi-pro footballer in the United States with the Miami-based Florida Soccer Soldiers — making him one of the few footballers to excel in both the physical realm as well as the virtual one.

“I have been playing real football since I was eight years old,” said Yuri_FPOLIS, who hails from Florianópolis in Brazil, but moved to the US in 2015 and is now a naturalized American.

“Ever since I was young, I have been trying to become a professional football player. I played in the academies of some professional clubs but did not do enough to earn a professional contract. But I still have hopes to be a pro one day,” he said.

But while he has yet to make the grade in the physical game, Yuri_FPOLIS is already a proven talent in eFootball.

In the Federação Catarinense 20/21 season, he went all the way and was crowned the Campeão Catarinense, or champion of the Santa Catarina state championships, one of the most keenly contested tournaments in Brazil. Given that Brazil is home to many world-class eFootball players, the win was quite an achievement.

In the Federação Catarinense 20/21 season, Yuri_FPOLIS won crowned Campeão Catarinense, or champion of the Santa Catarina state championships, one of the most keenly contested tournaments in Brazil. Photo: Courtesy of Yuri Andrade

The victory also earned him recognition as a rising eFootball talent and Yuri_FPOLIS would go on to represent the US in various competitions. But the biggest yet will be the GEG, where he will get to test his skills against some of the best eFootball players in the world.

He credits his early success down to two groups of people — his father and his community.

While some fathers may frown upon their children spending too much time on gaming, Yuri_FPOLIS’s father was the opposite.

“My dad always liked to play eFootball since I was young so I grew up playing with him and also watching him and his friends play,” said Yuri_FPOLIS.

“When I was very young, he gave me my first game. I am not sure if it was really for me or for him to play but he said it was for me, so I started playing with him when I was very young. I probably started beating him when I was about 12.”

It was then that both father and son entertained the thought of taking eFootball more seriously.

Added Yuri_FPOLIS: “I am a very competitive guy, and started training so I could beat my dad and his friends, So my dad always supported me playing eFootball and even more after noticing I could actually get somewhere playing.”

He is also quick to give his esports community back in Brazil — PESFloripa, a group of gamers who play and train together in the city of Florianópolis — credit for helping build up his game.

“Everything I’ve won is thanks to them,” said Yuri_FPOLIS.

“Before every tournament, they would help me train – no matter how long it takes. In tournaments, they are the ones screaming the loudest.”

It is this sense of camaraderie that makes him resonate with the Team #worldconnected concept — which brings athletes of different backgrounds, including those who represent the refugee community, people with disabilities, wounded servicemen and women, and other underserved communities.

The premise that everyone, regardless of their background, race, has a place in a global community and feels that they belong is what the Global Esports Federation believes in, and something Yuri_FPOLIS also feels strongly about.

He said: “It doesn’t matter where you were born or who you were. When you sit next to each other and turn a video game on, all you want is to have fun. That is what’s amazing about what the GEF and GEG are trying to do.”


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