The Pele connection that sparked Araujo’s football journey

From the favelas of Brazil to the quaint streets of Adelaide – football has been a whirlwind ride for Adelaide United import Lais Araujo.

The 23-year-old Brazilian midfielder has been turning heads for Ivan Karlovic’s side in her maiden Westfield W-League season.

However, with a football at her feet, Aruajo has been turning heads since her youngest days playing on the street.

At the age of 12 her football journey took a dramatic turn when she was spotted by a charity backed by the daughter of all-time Brazilian great Pele.

She has since travelled the world playing football, and joined United on the back of a successful season with Norwegian top flight side Arna-Bjørnar and time in the US college system.

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Araujo told Seven News Adelaide she regularly reflects on the serendipity of success.

“Sometimes I even tell my teammates it is like I am living a life that is not mine,” Araujo said.

“I called my mum one time and showed her my neighbourhood and said ‘can you believe this?’

Whether she believes it or not, Araujo’s playing career has been and continues to be a story of success which grew from the unlikeliest of beginnings.

But the 23-year-old says she never fully appreciated just what crossing paths with Pele and his family meant for her at the time her footballing journey truly began.

“I didn’t really know how big it was at the time to meet Pele,” she admitted.

“My whole family was going crazy.”

Aruajo’s rise from the streets will be featured in an upcoming documentary, Warriors of a Beautiful Game.

“I am one of the main characters in the documentary,” she explained.

“They highlight my story and (discuss) not giving up on my dreams and things like that.”

Aruajo and her Adelaide teammates return to Westfield W-League action next Sunday, when they host Canberra United at Marden Sports Complex.

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Lais Araujo's rise is the subject of a documentary

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