Adriano will surely go down as one of the most frustrating players in the world. The Brazilian had all the assets needed to be one of the very best strikers — power, pace, guile and a lethal left foot.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Flamengo youth team product Adriano was already in the first team at Flamengo by the age of 18. He'd been capped by the Selecao, scoring seven goals in 19 games, attracting the attention of European clubs, particularly Internazionale - who paid over £10 million to bring him to Italy in 2001.
He moved to Internazionale and scored an emphatic free kick on his debut against Real Madrid. He had a successful loan spell with Fiorentina before playing for Parma in a co-ownership deal that existed with Inter. Internazionale owner Giacinto Facchetti saw that he had made a mistake in allowing the Brazilian to leave and parted with double the money they had originally paid Flamengo to obtain his services.
In his time with Parma, Adriano formed a formidable strike partenership with Adrian Mutu in which they scored 23 goals in 37 games for the club. He carried this form into the following season with Inter, he was phenomenal from then scoring 65 goals to achieve four successive league titles. He also won two Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana trophies along with the Copa America and Confederations Cup with the Brazilian national side in 2004 and 2005.
He became a legend at the San Siro, his goal-scoring record for his country was incredible. He averaged well over one goal every two games, picking up awards for top scorer in both the Copa America in 2004 and the Confederations Cup in 2005.
Adriano was respected and his talent was adored world-wide. He had everything going for him. He was tipped to be the next Ronaldo and played along-side the Brazilian legend on many occasions for the national side.
This was a period of the striker’s life where success was bountiful.
Adriano had everything going for him, he was one of the most famous talents in football at that time. That's where it all start going wrong and overnight his world suddenly came crashing down.
Following the death of his father in Brazil, Adriano’s fitness and work ethic dropped. Mid season partying, drinking and missed training sessions meant Inter’s patience began to wear thin. They went through every disciplinary measure in the book. He was fined, benched, put in the reserves and finally allowed to leave Italy to go and recuperate in an effort regain his fitness.
He did so with Sao Paulo as he went back to Brazil in which he enjoyed a return in form before his commitment once again waned and the club became tired of chasing him up to find out why he wasn’t at the training ground. His lowest point was during a game in 2008, as he head-butted a Santos defender and almost risked an 18 month suspension. The incident pushed officials at Sao Paulo too far and they cut short his loan spell.
He was now a journey man as he played for Flamengo and Corinthians in Brazil, as well as a year at Roma - who attempted to reignite his career in Europe. He signed on a three year contract but only managed seven months of it, in which he featured just five times.
10 years ago, a young Adriano was on top of the world scoring goals for fun and adored by millions of fans. Now, a near forgotten man, the footballing world still wonders; what might have been.
It is agreed that his father’s untimely death is the main factor why his career is what it is today, he went off the rails at a time where there was no one to put him back on them.
He had it all and lost it all, a man tipped as one of the most promising talents in world football is now forgotten. Adriano will always remain a player that many ponder what: could’ve, would’ve and should’ve been.
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