The world's sexiest footballer
Laisa Andrioli promenades slowly through the Sao Paulo night, looking for a quiet table in a bar where she can chat to FourFourTwo.
"My legs are tired from training this afternoon," says 22-year-old Brazilian stunner, with a smile that would melt Antarctica. "But I would never show up for this interview without high heels." And we wouldn't want her to. Gentlemen, meet the world's sexiest footballer...
A tasty striker for Sao Bernardo, who play in the Sao Paulo State professional ladies' tournament, Laisa is a former Brazil under-21 international player, who has also donned the shirts of Internacional and Palmeiras during her career. But it was when she wore no shirt at all that Laisa really made her mark.
Recognising her considerable gifts, early last year a Brazilian men's magazine invited her to pose for pictures wearing nothing more than a pair of football boots. Unsurprisingly, the snaps and accompanying article were a hit on the newsstands and the internet. Jaws dropped across Brazil, quickly elevating Laisa to the elite of the nation's beauties and turning her life upside down.
Now, between training and matches, she spends her time modelling and appearing as a guest in TV and radio shows (although, frankly, she's wasted on the radio). But her passion for, and commitment to, her sport are undiminished.
"Football is my life," says, sipping on a cola. "It's what I always wanted to do. Too bad here in Brazil it's almost impossible for a girl to make a living exclusively out of it. The prejudice is huge, people still think it's a man's game and that only man-like, ugly women play. With the pictures, I tried to show they have the wrong idea. There's a lot of beautiful girls in my squad, and we can be sexy too."
Ever-diligent, after our first meeting with Laisa, FFT goes incognito to Sao Bernardo's next game Ã¢ÂÂ away at Nacional Ã¢ÂÂ to see if she was telling the truth about her team-mates. Granted, there are some nice-looking ladies on show, but the 5ft 6in, eight-and-a-half stone brunette is in a league of her own.
It's a fierce game of football, in which our beauty scores a beauty in the first half, but is inexplicably substituted at the beginning of the second. She spends the rest of the game sitting on the bench, so the only thing you can see was her ponytail. Curses.
Such heresy is punished in the 90th minute, when the referee awards a penalty Ã¢ÂÂ for a foul clearly outside the box Ã¢ÂÂ to Nacional, who convert to snatch a 3-3 draw. You'll be pleased to hear Laisa hasn't been withdrawn prematurely since.
Later that day, FFT calls Laisa to congratulate her for the goal and pour scorn on the coach for his substitution.
"You were there watching the game?" she asks, clearly surprised. "Why didn't you let me know? I would have run to the stands after scoring to dedicate my goal to you..."
FFT hangs up and cries himself to sleep.
So Laisa, where did it all begin?
I always used to play with my dad and his friends. But it wasn't serious until I met a veteran scout named Joao Pedro Paes, who encouraged me to go pro. I was 16 years old and I had to left my small hometown of Santo Antonio da Patrulha to live in Porto Alegre, to play for Internacional. It wasn't easy, but I succeeded, despite the conditions not being always good.
Did you ever imagine "peeling off" for an magazine back then?
Not at all. I'd never seen myself as a femme fatale, someone who would grace a magazine like that. But I loved the results, the pictures were fantastic.
How did you react when you received the offer?
It was a complete surprise. I called my mum to tell the news and asked her not to tell my older brother! No one knew until the magazine was out. I'm from a small town and I knew people would talk... but I couldn't turn down the offer. The money I got I would never get in my whole career as a footballer.
And how did people in football react? Some accused you of using the sport to promote yourself...
Only those who doesn't know me. I've been a part of the women's football structure for years, climbing step by step. Football is my life, there's no doubt. In fact, they tell me I helped to attack the stereotypes that surround the woman's game in Brazil.
Do you think if a male player posed nude today, there would be the same repercussions?
Only if he's too ugly! [Laughs] Like Ronaldo or [Corinthians midfielder] Dentinho. It would be an infinite motive for jokes.
Speaking of which, what was the story with Denilson? Some gossip columnists announced that you and him were dating...
Not at all. I've been a fan of Denilson for a long time Ã¢ÂÂ in fact, my dad liked him a lot. I said that in my interview for the magazine. And I managed to talk to him by phone after the photos were out Ã¢ÂÂ he was very kind, but there was no date whatsoever. From him, I want only his friendship Ã¢ÂÂ and perhaps an autographed shirt!
How would you describe yourself as a player?
Many coaches tell me I have a similar style to [Villarreal and Brazil striker] Nilmar. I'm fast and I love to take on defenders. But in order to do that, I have to be fit Ã¢ÂÂ and I'm not 100% right now, since the season is just beginning. Hmm, should I have ordered a Diet Coke instead?!
Portrait Amaury Barcella