This article originally appeared on VICE Brazil
Maurício dos Anjos is a bigger football fan than you. Yes, you might know your team's win percentage for the past 40 years, or the name of every manager to have ever graced a Premier League pitch, but have you had your club's uniform tattooed life-size onto your own body? No, you have not, and fair enough, because doing so is an exceptionally big life decision.
Last Friday, after a year of visits to a tattoo shop, the 33-year-old Brazilian finally finished getting his torso covered with his team, Flamengo's, strip. The tattoo, which covers 40 percent of his body, is a replica of the top-tier side's 2015 home shirt, though dos Anjos spared himself the sponsors' logos. The design, which took 32 sessions and over 90 hours to complete, covers his entire torso and back, from the waist to the neck, including his shoulders and arms.
To date, only one other football fan is known to have done something similar. In 2010, Felipe Alvarez from Colombia tattooed the Atletico Nacional jersey using only shades of green, with none of the jersey's white stripes. But given the fact dos Anjos decided to include every stripe and shape of the Flamengo jersey, he seems to have surpassed that effort.
"Having the sacred mantle on my body is a dream come true," dos Anjos says. Now that his tattoo is complete, what's next? Matching shorts? Knee-high socks? VICE Brazil sat down with him to find out.
VICE: So what exactly prompted this project?
Mauricio dos Anjos: I always wanted to have a Flamengo tattoo, ever since I became a fan as a child. My father didn't like tattoos, but once I turned 18 I was able to convince him otherwise, so I got a vulture [the team mascot] with the Flamengo shield on my biceps. Last year, I decided to get a tattoo of the jersey, which is something I'd actually been wanting to get for a while. But I thought it would be too expensive – between R$10,000 (£2,000) and R$15,000 (£3,000). So I chose to get something smaller, that covered only part of my shoulder and chest. The tattoo artist asked for R$800 (£165), but as we chatted he told me he'd do the entire jersey at no extra cost, just for the exposure.
What were the finishing touches you had done during your final session last week?
Just a few stripes on my right shoulder. The design is so big that some parts will need to be retouched in a few weeks. The whole process was only supposed to take four to five months, but there were some issues.
What kind of issues?
I decided to get a new artist in October, when the work was about 30 percent done. I had some personal issues with the first guy, though we're all good now. For two months after that decision, I saved money to be able to pay another artist, but then a friend called me to offer to pay for the rest. By that point, I'd even sold my motorcycle in an effort to get the money together.
Do you have any other tattoos?
I have one for my eldest daughter – her footprint, with her name and date of birth. It was on my back, but the jersey tattoo covered it, so I'll redo that one somewhere else. The vulture will stay, though, next to the sleeve. Considering it's related to Flamengo, I'd never cover it.
Which part of the tattoo hurt the most?
A lot of people told me that I'd feel a lot of pain on my ribs and armpits. The ribs hurt, but the spine was the worst – that was just terrible. My neck and stomach hurt pretty bad, too, but the rest was fine.
Honestly, did you regret starting this whole thing at any point?
Trust me, I never felt any regret.
What do people say when they see it?
People ask me if I don't find it strange that I'm always wearing a Flamengo shirt. And I just don't. To me, it's normal. But it doesn't seem like anyone I talk to about it actually dislikes my tattoo.
What about your wife? Didn't she complain?
When I told her, she said: "Stop – are you crazy? Don't do that." But then we sat down and we talked. She thought people would pick on me, say stuff behind my back or pick a fight with me because of the tattoo. And she worried that my family would get upset. My wife is also a Flamengo fan, but she isn't as crazy about it as I am. At the end of the day, she accepted it.
What do your kids think? Do they understand what you've done?
I have three-year-old twins, and a daughter who's five. The oldest gets it – she knows it's a tattoo. And some of her friends have said they've seen me online. Whenever I got home with the tattoo wrapped up in plastic, my twins asked me if I was hurt, so I had to explain. But because I'm always shirtless around them, they don't find it weird anymore.
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I saw on your Facebook page that you've been able to meet some of your idols because of the tattoo, right?
I met [former Flamengo player] Zico in Rio de Janeiro last December. He was shocked, and touched it to make sure it wasn't painted on. I asked him to sign my skin and I then got his signature tattooed. I've also met former Flamengo players Rondinelli and Ronaldo Angelim in Santa Catarina. They thought it was cool.
Do you still wear Flamengo jerseys now that you permanently have one on?
Yes, at least twice a week. I'm always shirtless when I'm at home, but when I'm outside that’s not really possible yet – a fresh tattoo shouldn't be exposed to the sun.
What’s next? Will you get the rest of the uniform tattooed?
People always ask me that – get the shorts tattooed, the socks, or the jacket. I may get another tattoo related to Flamengo, perhaps on my leg or my arm. But I'm not going to get anything as big as this.