Rio de Janeiro, March 15: Convicted murderer Bruno Fernandes de Souza, who has signed a contract with Brazilian Serie B club Boa Esporte, insisted that he is "not worried about what other people say" after being allowed to return to football.
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The 32-year-old, once considered a prospect for Brazil's national team, was presented to the media on Tuesday, March 14, four days after signing a two-year deal with Esporte, reports Xinhua news agency.
"I have been preparing myself for this. To go through what I went through hasn't been easy," Fernandes, who is known simply as Bruno, told a news conference.
"I'm not worried about what other people say. What matters to me is to be able to restart my life. I have a lot of responsibility to play well," he said.
"I'm very happy to have been given this opportunity. People have put a lot of pressure on me due to what has happened in the past. I'm happy and motivated."
Bruno was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2013 after being found guilty of participating in the 2010 murder of former girlfriend Eliza Samudio.
He was released last month after being granted a writ of habeas corpus by a Supreme Court judge. No date has been set for the appeal hearing.
Boa Esporte's decision has evoked outrage, with three sponsors already withdrawing their financial support of the club.
Social media has been flooded with calls for Boa Esporte to reverse their decision but club officials have been steadfast in their support of the former Atletico Mineiro, Corinthians and Flamengo player.
Bruno admitted that during "the darkest period" of his life he felt he would not be given another chance to play football.
"I thought that it wouldn't be possible (to play again)," he said. "But I couldn't just throw in the towel. I couldn't let my career end there.
"People like my wife didn't let me give up. She was the one who motivated me most. I thank her for supporting me in my darkest moment," Bruno said.
He added, "The club's objective is to get promoted to the top division. But the most important thing is to play. I have to believe in myself. I know that I have a lot of hard work to do."