SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The former Flamengo goalkeeper who was sentenced to jail for his part in the murder of an ex-girlfriend made a return to the game on Saturday, with Bruno Fernandes given a warm welcome by fans at his new club Pocos de Caldas.
Fernandes, who is better known by his first name Bruno, was found guilty in 2013 of involvement in the murder of Eliza Samudio, a former partner and part-time model who was seeking paternity payments after giving birth to a son she said was his.
In a case that shocked both Brazil and the football world, Fernandes told the judge his friends strangled Samudio, cut her body up and fed bits of it to dogs.
He was given a 22-year sentence but having now served enough time to qualify for a part-release scheme he was allowed out to travel the 160 km from Varginha, where he served most of his sentence, to his new club in Pocos de Caldas.
The 34-year-old is allowed out during the day but must return to Varginha at night.
Fernandes appeared as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s friendly match against Independiente Juruaia.
His side won 2-0 and although he had few saves to make he was well received by a crowd of around 200 people, Folha de S.Paulo reported.
Bruno, who kept goal for Flamengo when they won the Brazilian league title in 2009, told reporters earlier in the day he was looking forward to playing for the minor league club and proving he was a reformed man.
“When people here in Pocos de Caldas get to know the real Bruno, the human being that he is, then a lot of minds will be changed,” he said. “I have a great opportunity to show the new me.”
A previous attempt at a comeback with Varginha club Boa Esporte in 2017 was abandoned after legal appeals cut short his part-release scheme.
Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Daniel Wallis