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Juninho Pernambucano is taking his shots from the press box now

Ross Haley catches us up with Brazilian soccer legend and short-lived RBNY player, Juninho Pernambucano.

New York Red Bulls v Seattle Sounders - FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Antônio Augusto Ribeiro Reis Júnior, also known as Juninho Pernambucano, also known as Juninho also known as Shooty O’Free-Kicks, has found himself in the middle of the Brazilian soccer news cycle.

The former midfielder criticized Flamengo on Seleção Sportv, claiming that the club “is a mess because nobody is allowed to work” and that the club’s players won’t play with defender Renê due to him hailing from Northeastern Brazil.

The Rio de Janeiro-based club responded on its official website, defending its inclusivity:

The Flamengo Regatta Club is publicly deeply lamenting the serious and unfortunate accusation and is sure that the professional is deeply unaware of the red-black history written by Dida, Zagallo, Junior, Nunes, Bebeto, Obina, Ronaldo Angelim, among others.

We are the Most Beloved team in Brazil by our plurality. We are not a “mass crowd”, we are a nation. We are spread throughout the 26 states, in the Federal District, we are of all colors, creeds, sizes and genres. We are from the south, southeast, center-west, north and northeast. We are from Brazil and abroad. We are all but a few! In our grandstand the mixture of accents, faces, social class and everything that forms the human being will always be present.

Flamengo will always be at the forefront of all fights. Be against racism, women’s struggle for respect at work, social causes and anything that is relevant to building a better world. Our DNA does not match discrimination, let alone xenophobia.

This isn’t the first time that Juninho has caused a stir with his comments. In December, he backed out of the Guanabara Cup final broadcast after receiving death threats following his criticism of starlet Vinicius Junior’s chororo celebration.

Juninho is most known to New York Red Bulls fans for his half-season stint in 2013 where he made 13 appearances and scored precisely zero of the fancy free kick goals for which he is most known. A rare miss during the Mike Petke/Andy Roxburgh era, the former Brazilian international failed to gel with the roster and quickly rejoined Vasco da Gama. It still escapes me why Juninho was given excessive defensive responsibilities and often played at the base of a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 midfield, but everything worked out in the end as that team went on to win the first hardware in club history, clinching the Supporters’ Shield.

Why did I write this post? Why should you care? Because it’s important to be well-informed and step outside of the Major League Soccer and English Premier League bubbles once in a while.

Nah, I’m kidding. I guess I’ll take any excuse to post this hilarious video of Juninho pegging then-Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

It’s a well-deserved red card, but at least it gave us an unforgettable moment in club history.

Juninho: he pegged Nielsen with the ball and now he’s pegging the Brazilian soccer world with his comments.