What happened to Kerlon? The seal-dribbling Brazilian wonderkid who signed for Inter

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YouTube was still in its formative years when a little-known Brazilian named Kerlon took the new website by storm.

Since the start of the 21st century, many young Brazilians footballers have become viral sensations on the internet.

Ronaldinho's advert with Nike was the first video to hit one million views on YouTube and - despite European fans never watching a full Santos game - Neymar became one of the most talked about footballers in the world before his move to Barcelona.

Having come through the Cruzeiro youth academy, Kerlon achieved world fame as a teenager for inventing a new skill, the "drible da foquinha", or seal dribble.

Now aged 30, the attacking midfielder was the top scorer at the U17 World Cup in 2007 and every top club in Europe was interested.

He was the Martin Odegaard of 2007.

What happened to Kerlon?

First of all, it's imperative that you watch a clip of Kerlon's magnificent skill.

At the age of 19, he came so close to leaving Cruzeiro in a big-money move to Manchester United but ended up staying in Brazil for one more season before joining Inter Milan in 2008.

This was when his stock began to drop considerably.

Kerlon spent his first year in Italy on loan at Chievo but made only four appearances in an injury-prone debut season outside of Brazil.


He was unveiled at Ajax on a season-long loan as a member of the first team in 2009 - but he was only ever involved with the Ajax reserve team.

Kerlon returned to Inter Milan in the summer of 2010 but suffered an injury in pre-season which kept him sidelined until 2011.

Two loan spells back in Brazil followed where he amassed a total of five league appearances and it was no surprise that Inter released him when his contract expired in 2012.

Next, a move to Japan followed and Kerlon racked up nine goals for Fujieda MYFC before his knee troubles returned and he was forced to return to Brazil for surgery.

That footage of him attempting the seal dribble in Japan went viral for all the wrong reasons in 2012.

Unsuccessful stints in Barbados, the U.S.A. and Malta eventually lead the Brazilian to his final destination in professional football.

The curtain closes on Kerlon's career

He joined Spartak Trnava in Slovakia on a one-and-a-half year deal in 2016 and - after a career which promised so much - retired in October 2017 at the age of 29.

“I had the privilege of doing something unique in the game,” Kerlon wrote in a touching note to GloboEsporte.


“Guided by my greatest partner and friend, my father, we created a skill that had never been seen before. I did it in big moments, both for Brazil and for Cruzeiro, even in a big derby at a packed Mineirão.

“Even knowing that I would suffer a foul or a violent challenge, I still tried it, flicking the ball up in the air and travelling metres with the ball on my head, not letting it drop. That was my style of football: irreverent, with lots of joy.”

Those are some beautiful parting words.

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