Rangel turned his back on big money to make history with Chapecoense
Editor's Note: This is a translation from ESPN Brazil: Bruno Rangel abriu mão de dinheiro para voltar e virou maior artilheiro da história da Chapecoense.
There are few players who can boast of having a beautiful history with a team. Rogerio Ceni with Sao Paulo? Pelé with Santos? Zico with Flamengo?
Bruno Rangel was Chapecoense's Ceni, Pelé and Zico combined. He was the biggest idol in the club's history.
It was an inspiring story turned tragedy on Tuesday, when a plane crash caused most of the Chapecoense team, including Rangel, to lose their lives in transit to Medellin, Colombia, where they were set to take part in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana finals.
It was supposed to be the journey of their lives. Chapecoense's appearance in the finals of the second-most important club competition in South America marked the first time that a team from the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina had reached the decider of an international tournament.
Born in the town of Campos do Goytacazes, deep in the Brazilian province of Rio de Janeiro, Rangel was signed by Chapecoense for the first time in 2013, after he excelled with CA Metropolitano and, before that, with rivals Joinville.
That season, Rangel -- wearing the No. 9 shirt -- showed his skills for the fastest-growing team in Brazil. He scored 39 goals in 34 contests in the Brazilian Serie B, nine more than his closest rival Marcos Aurelio, then playing for Sport.
Rangel would then put a hold on his tenure with Chapecoense to fulfill a lifelong dream by playing football outside of his country. His chance came in 2014, when he was signed by Qatar's Al-Arabi.
However, his desire to play at home was stronger. No amount of money earned in the Middle East would make him as happy as playing in front of the Arena Condá fans, who, in a very short period of time, had come to adore him.
"I'm coming back to the place where I was the happiest, always treated well and in which I had the best time of my career. Now, I have to count down the days until I leave Qatar and help the team and [then-manager] Gilmar [Dal Pozzo] and make fans happy. They have given me so much strength over the past year," Rangel said at the time, at his happiest.
"To play abroad was a dream come true. It was very important for me and my family," he said. "Having concluded that phase of my life, I'm coming back to a place where I learned how to love. I want to give all that happiness to the community of Chapecó, and I want to be happy again in Chapecoense."
From that year forward, Rangel made Chapecoense his primary focus. In just three seasons, he surpassed former striker Índio en route to becoming the club's leading goal scorer in history, breaking a record that dated to 1973.
Rangel reached the mark in an astounding rout against Avaí in the Campeonato Catarinense, the main competition for the state of Santa Cantarina. He scored his 80th strike against Santa Cruz in the 23rd round of this year's Brasileirao tournament. In the time since, he scored once again against Corinthians in Arena Corinthians.
"I want to play for a so-called large club. Unfortunately, people today look more at age instead of the quality of play," he said in July in an interview with Brazilian sports daily Lance. "That makes my dream impossible. Even worse yet, since I don't have the experience in large clubs, such as Grafite or Zé Roberto, there are no proposals on my table."
His dream was cut short. However, he, along with goalkeeper Danilo, is an immortal figure in Chapecoense's fateful history.