Former Bayern Munich defender Breno has been jailed for almost four years after being found guilty of arson.
The Munich State Court sentenced the gifted 22-year-old to a prison term of three years and nine months after finding him guilty of deliberately starting the fire which destroyed his Grunwald villa last September.
Having already garnered a reputation as one of the most talented young defenders in world football, Breno was captured by Bayern for a 12 million Euro fee in 2008 from São Paolo.
"He's an absolutely stunning prospect," enthused former Bayern star Giovane Elber. "Even at such a young age, he's already genuinely world class," Breno's compatriot Elber waxed lyrical after his signing.
Ultimately, it was a huge fee and burden for a player aged just eighteen and thousands of miles away from home comforts. Despite high hopes initially of being able to follow in the footsteps of ex-Bayern & Brazil World Cup winning defender Lucio, the youngster's spell in Munich seemed jinxed from the outset. Breno suffered a host of niggling injuries, and could only show off his true qualities as a footballer during a loan spell with Nuremberg in 2010. But even that promising foray in Franconia was cut short by a serious cruciate knee ligament injury.
He became a free agent upon release (June 30th) by the Reds at the end of a particularly unhappy and unsuccessful season for all parties. Despite this, it was thought that he had already agreed terms on a new contract in Italy with Serie A Club Lazio Rome.
These plans have been dashed.
Breno was reported to be in a drunken state when the fire started in his home, shortly after his wife and children had left the villa in September 2011.
Shortly before the verdict was announced, Breno suddenly broke his silence.
"I would like to apologise for that night," he said. "I have not been a good role model.
"I am just a person who believes in God and I thank him for protecting my family."
Breno's lawyer Werner Leitner had recommended a suspended sentence, or a milder two-year jail term should his client be found guilty.
"He has nothing but family and football," he explained. "Give Breno a chance."
Prosecutors demanded imprisonment for at least five-and-a-half years.
Judge Rosi Datzmann, in her summing up, said the accused had "burdened himself with guilt with this action", and suggested that Breno might be deported back to Brazil after spending at least two-and-a-half years in a German prison.
Breno's former employers Bayern responded with a statement stating their regret at the conviction.
"We hoped that Breno would have been able to resume his career as a footballer and, consequently get his life back together with his family," said the statement.
"FC Bayern will continue to support Breno."
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