Chelsea legend leaves boyhood club Corinthians over death threats
Ex-Chelsea and Brazil forward Willian has left boyhood outfit Corinthians due to receiving death threats, according to the 34-year-old.
After leaving Brazil young for Europe, many aging stars from the "country of football" return to their homeland in the twilight of their careers for a swansong that sees them trying to repay the club that gave them a start in the game and their fans.
For Willian, however, his attempt at this has gone horribly wrong and has seen him hounded out of the club by the Sao Paulo side's passionate supporters who forced him to end his near-one year tenure there after joining from Arsenal as a free agent in 2021.
"I did not come to Brazil to get threatened," Willian explained to reporters from the country's largest media outlet, Globo Esporte.
Former Chelsea and Arsenal winger Willian has signed termination of the contract with Corinthians. He wants a new challenge in Europe. 🚨🇧🇷 #transfersDiscussions ongoing to find the best solution with his agent. pic.twitter.com/fhaFwiOoJT— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 12, 2022
"Whenever Corinthians lost, and if sometimes I was not doing well in the game, my family received threats and curses on social media.
"My wife, my daughters ... after a while [they] also started attacking my father, and my sister," he added.
With cross-city eternal foes Palmeiras winning back-to-back Libertadores titles in South America's equivalent of the Champions League while also topping the league, Willian was attacked by some Corinthians fans in recent weeks as the 2012 Club World Cup winners were eliminated from the Libertadores and the Copa do Brasil.
Things are slightly improving with the team managed by Vitor Pereira now second in the Brazilian A and six points behind leaders Palmeiras.
But on the eve of a derby between the two arch-enemies scheduled for Saturday night, Willian has terminated his contract as also confirmed by his ex-employers.
"Corinthians accepted the dismissal of the athlete, the anticipation of the end of the contract. Willian alleged private and family problems and the desire to leave Brazil. Corinthians is sorry, but respects the player's decision," the club said in a statement.
Enjoying life in west London for seven years from 2013-2020, before a move north to Arsenal where he spent just a sole year, Willian is now being linked to Chelsea's neighborhood rivals and Premier League new boys Fulham.
By joining them before the close of the transfer window, Willian would also have improved chances of making Brazil's 23-man squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year.