Lucas Moura this morning became the hero of one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.
But rewind just 16 months, and you’d have more likely have found him sitting on a bench.
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Once one of the hottest young footballing talents on the planet, a battle for his services back in 2013 saw French champions Paris Saint-Germain dish out a hefty transfer fee to sign the then 21-year-old. But after a few strong campaigns, he was essentially discarded in, ironically, PSG’s desperate hunt for European glory.
After playing 29 or more matches across his four full seasons at the club, Moura was effectively relegated to a bit-role to accommodate new big name recruits.
The Brazilian played just 71 minutes of league football — not starting a single match or making a single appearance in Europe last season — as then-manager Unai Emery froze him out.
Back in November he shared the hell of his final days at PSG.
“It was very hard — the worst seven months of my life,” he told ESPN Brazil.
“I had come from a very good season, I was second top scorer of the team, only behind Cavani. The following season, I wasn’t even called up. I used to go to practice, I wasn’t even in the game. I used to go back home. It was very difficult.”
He was of interest to Napoli, Sevilla, Valencia and a club in China, but ultimately favoured a move to Spurs.
He landed in the Premier League for a fee of £25m, putting pen to paper on a five-and-a-half year deal. And now he’s having the last laugh over his former club.
PSG have notoriously failed in their hunt to lift the Champions League trophy. Despite staggering raids for Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and other big names, the French club has failed to even reach a semi-final.
In fact, the’ve been dumped in the Round of 16 in the past three season. Barcelona ousted them in miraculous fashion in 2016-17, then Real Madrid the following year, while this season it was an embarrassing defeat to Manchester United.
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Moura, meanwhile, will now take his place in the final in a few weeks’ time, with a chance to complete his former club’s dream without them.
“Impossible to explain what I’m feeling,” Moura said after steering Spurs into the final.
“I’m very happy and very proud of my team-mates. Always believe in this moment. We gave everything on the pitch and deserved this moment – we are family. Impossible to explain. Big gift from God I’d like to share with team-mates, friends and family.
“It’s about not only me but my team-mates and teamwork. Everyone worked really hard. Too difficult to play here against Ajax but I always believed in my team-mates. Even without key players we did really well. We need to fight in every game like this.
“The football is amazing – it gives us a moment like this. We cannot imagine. The best moment in my life – in my career. I only need to say thank you to my team-mates.”
The manager who put Moura through hell — Emery — is meanwhile stuck in the Europa League with rivals Arsenal. The player he let go will finish above his side on the ladder and play in Europe’s biggest game.
And the wheels have completely fallen off at PSG, as they’ve failed to win six of their last seven since wrapping up the title.
One of the great cases of football karma.