Meet Elton, the world’s shortest footballer nearly arrested for posing with female fans and nicknamed after Maradona – The Sun
AT just 5ft 1in, Elton is truly football's pocket rocket man.
Full name Elton Jose Xavier Gomes, the diminutive attacking midfielder has carved out a 16-year career as a professional… despite the fact he'd be under average height in most under-14s matches.
The fleet-footed creator emerged at Corinthians in his native Brazil, playing alongside high-profile team-mates in former Manchester City pair Carlos Tevez and Jo.
As a teenager, Elton was able to make up for his small frame with his natural talent – forcing his way into the first-team set up and bagging himself a title winner's medal in 2005.
Albeit five inches shorter than Diego Maradona, Elton was soon nicknamed "Elton Maradinha" after the Argentine star – in homage to his dribbling skills and long, curly dark hair.
A fraction taller than pop-star Kylie Minogue, and shorter than the Aussie's sister Danni, Elton didn't let his height get in the way… and was unfazed by his comparisons with El Diego.
He told UOL Esporte: "I was happy with that nickname, I was not pressured in any way."
At 21, he earned a move to Europe – signing for Romanian side Steaua Bucharest.
His stint was brief, but he left an impression – so much so that despite playing just EIGHT matches, Elton was subsequently voted into Steaua fans' team of the decade in a 2009 poll.
Elton swiftly embarked on a move to the Middle East, where he was to have his biggest impact as a player.
He signed for Al-Nassr in 2007, becoming loved for his tricks, flicks and wand of a left foot.
Such was the adoration that supporters felt for their unusually sleight star, that some of them started wearing wigs as a tribute to their favourite player's hairstyle.
After a brief spell back in Brazil – as well as in Dubai – Elton returned to Saudi Arabia in 2011 for the most successful stint of his career, ready for the love of his new set of fans.
"Elton Maradinha" was now "Elton Arabia", the untouchable Brazilian with magic in his boots.
He scored 48 goals in 121 games over five years at Al-Fateh, winning the league title and gaining hero status once again.
They were dressed in those black clothes all covered, and the security guard came to arrest me. They took me to the police car and I had to call the club Sheikh.
But that heroism nearly wasn't enough to get him out of one unusual scrape with the law.
Elton was nearly ARRESTED for taking pictures with female fans.
"I was taking a picture with the women," he explained.
"They were dressed in those black clothes all covered, and the security guard came to arrest me. They took me to the police car and I had to call the club Sheikh.
"It was a moment that scared me a lot, but then I got used to the country's culture."
Despite leaving Al-Fateh in 2016, a now-34-year-old Elton can still be found in Saudi Arabia turning out for Al-Wehda.
Indeed it is a country that has become home for the pocket rocket from Palmeira dos Indios.
He has previously admitted: "I have been in Arabia for nine years and I only have good things to say.
"Life is peaceful here, I have nothing to complain about. The Arabs are very fond of me."
While nearing the end at 34, this tiny dancer remains capable of dazzling defenders, and most certainly is still standing tall in his 5ft 1in frame.
The sun hasn't quite gone down on the remarkable career of El Maradinha.
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