He was born in Rio De Janeiro. Like many kids of his social milieu, he had deep faith in two things, football and religion. By the age of 21 he was the tallest player in his youth team. He was a strong defender of 197 cm. But he was humble. He never misused his physical strength on the ground. In interviews he used to say, “Não costumo fazer faltas e não sou maldoso”. (I don’t commit fouls and I am not evil). May be that’s why he never really made it to the top league. Despite signing for a team like Santos he ended up in a humble Chapecoense, some thousand kilometers away from his native Rio.
But on 28th November, his team and the support staff boarded a flight for Medellin, Colombia to play the first leg of the final of Copa Sudamericana. Everyone in the team was looking forward to this historical moment. Unfortunately, the plane crashed. Due to poor management by Lamia. Out of 77 individuals on board, only six survived. Helio Neto was one of them. Thirteen days and millions of prayers later he regained consciousness. The first question he asked after opening his eyes was, “What happened in the game?”, before asking why he was injured. All his mind could think of after coming out of coma was the game. Salute!!
While I am writing this, Helio is still under intensive care and is still not completely out of danger. As his father predicted, I am sure he will be fine and will be playing again some day.
By the way, a journalist Roberto Cabrini discovered Helio’s personal Bible from the debris of the plane. He found a particular page bookmarked. The page that talked about, ‘being safe in the shadow of His wings’.