AS a 17-year-old making his way in Brazil, Joelinton Cassio Apolinario de Lira had caught the eye of the first team coach at Sport Recife.

Having spent two years playing in the youth team, he was promoted to the senior set-up the following year and made his debut five-and-a-half years ago. He had a part to play, despite his teenage years, in helping Sport to win promotion and the league cup.

His coach, Eduardo Baptista, truly appreciated him and felt he could go on to be a real Samba success story. Even after Baptista left to take over Fluminese, he had indicated to Sport and the club’s fans through the media how he felt the youngster would go on to bigger and better things – outside of Brazil.

In fact he predicted that Joelinton’s game would actually be more suited to the European scene, where Baptista felt he had the potential to go on and play in the big leagues on this continent. Having achieved the first stage of that in Germany, he now faces the challenge of fulfilling his potential in the Premier League with Newcastle United.

Joelinton moved to Hoffenheim as an 18-year-old, just months after helping Sport to promotion and then following that up with goals in the Brazilian Serie A, including goals against Fluminese and Sao Paulo.

His five-year deal in Germany meant Hoffenheim would tread carefully with him, so he was sent out on loan for two years to Austria club Rapid Wien, scoring 15 times in 60 appearances. And on his return to Hoffenheim, he soon established himself in the first team.

Now he faces the challenge of proving himself in the Premier League, weighed down – fans will hope not too heavily – with the £40m transfer fee that has made Joelinton Newcastle’s most expensive buy, after just one full season with Hoffenheim scoring seven times.

But he is renowned for being a striker with a big frame, unselfish and his role in the German team was highlighted by how he didn’t score that many of the 70 scored by Hoffenheim last season. How will he find the Premier League?

Joelinton said: “It’s difficult to answer and to compare England and Germany now in terms of football, but it is a very competitive league in Germany. I hope to be able to say what the difference are between the two leagues in the a few months’ time.

“I’ve always played centre forward, but I’m happy to play in other positions. I don’t know anyone who has lived here or played here, but I’ve watched the league for a long time now, you can see that in the fans. I was not able to talk to many people about playing in England because of this, but I am sure I will soon learn.”

Joelinton already speaks a little English, but not fluently, so he conducted his interview through a translator. Bruce, who has a track record for signing overseas players throughout his managerial career, is looking forward to working with him.

“Steve is a great guy, a father figure for the squad,” said the 22-year-old. “He demands a lot on the training pitch, very intense and I like that. He talks to the players, and I like that from a coach.”

It was Bruce’s decision to hand Joelinton the No 9 short at Newcastle, bearing in mind that the club’s record buy ought to be able to follow in the footsteps of greats such as Jackie Mliburn and Alan Shearer.

Bruce said: “He is aware of the No 9 jersey and what it brings. He needs big broad shoulders to deal with it and he has that in abundance. He has the potential to be a top-class centre-forward. I am delighted to have had him as my first signing.”